Happy New Year!
I would like to start this year’s blogging with the topic of nanakusa-gayu we eat on January 7. This is to pray for good health as well as to sooth our stomach by eating warm porridge after we eat a lot during the new year’s vacation.
As I introduced two years ago, the seven herbs are: water dropwort, shepherd’s purse, cudweed, chickweed, nipplewort, turnip and radish. They are called “haru-no-nanakusa (7 spring herbs)”.
This year, I got the assortment including red turnip and radish, which made the porridge look more colorful and fun.
Cook rice with five times the amount of water to rice. Boil and cut the herbs to add into the porridge. Serve with salt or soy sauce.
Although Google is running a nice campagin, almost no one on the street here is talking about International Women’s Day!! They seemed to be more interested in so-called “White Day” – Men receive chocolates from women on the Valentine’s Day and will give candies to women in return on March 14 (Yes, I know. It’s quite strange!) .
Unfortunately, Japan is so much behind in gender equality.
The glass-ceiling index (2015): next to last among OECD countries
Gender Gap Index (2015): 101th place among 145 countries.
I love Japan, but I can’t deny these results. Actually, they reflect the realty. I really hope this situation will change!
Globally speaking, most people will think of “tsugaru-jamisen” when they hear the word shamisen. However, tsugaru-jamisen is one of the styles born in the Tsugaru District in Aomori prefecture. There are many shamisen styles and schools in Japan.
Okinawan sanshin is also shamisen, it’s actually the ancestor of the shamisen of Mainland Japan. Although both Okinawan sanshin and Mainland shamisen have the same structure, they are very different in materials, playing methods, sound and tunes. The original sanshin was brought from the south part of China during the Ryukyu dynasty.
Sanshin is spread not only in Okinawa but also in Amami islands. Each community on each island has a different style of playing. My husband from Okinoerabu Island plays sanshin – acually it’s called “sanshiru” there – and just opened his website “Sanshiruko“. If you’re interested in it, please check it out!
Below, click and enjoy some of the sanshiru music! 😉
To learn more, visit https://sanshiruko.wordpress.com/
Today, March 3 is hina-matsuri (Doll Festival) to celebrate girls’ health and happiness.
So I made chirashi-zushi (vinegared rice topped with a variety of ingredients) and bought hina-arare (sweetened rice puff) to enjoy this seasonal event 🙂
In Japan, we say “Baka ha kaze o hikanai” which means a fool never catches a cold. I got a cold this Monday… So it’s proved I’m not a fool… but I prefer being a fool rather than being sick !
Let me introduce some folk remedies for colds in Japan on this occasion. Traditional examples are eating rice porridge, drinking sake-nog, wrapping a grilled green onion covered with cotton cloth around one’s neck etc… Today, many people like to take a sports drink or energy drink as well.
In the past, we were told not to take a bath when we catch a cold, but now it’s said it’s better to do so.
My favorite ones are: wearing lots of cloths, wrapping a towel around my neck, putting a instant hot pad between shoulder blades – there is an acupressure point effective for colds… and above all, eating “pucchin purin (popular pudding among kids)”. Usually I prefer more natural pudding. I don’t know why I feel like eating this only when I have a cold, but it seems it’s not only me.
Do you have any special remedies for colds?
Today, Feburuary 3rd is Setsubun in Japan, which is considered to be the day before the start of spring. On this day, people throw / eat roasted soy beans to get demons out of the house and invite lucks inside the house. It is said that eating the same amount of beans as your age will bring you health and luck. Another traditional custom is to decorate holly leaves with grilled head of sardines – the edgy holly leaves and strong smell of the grilled sardines were believed to get the devils away.
So we (just) ate the soybeans and enjoyed simple “fuku-cha (lucky tea)”, hoping lots of lucks come in!
Recently, special rolled sushi for Setsubun called “Eho-maki” has become popular, yet actually it’s not an old tradition in most areas – it’s rather a new custom promoted by the food industry. I’d like to exlain this in more details on another occasion…
Happy Setsubun day!