Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nara River Walk

It was supposed to be a lovely walk by the Nara river north of Hachioji with our recently arrived dog. Unfortunately, the 20 year old book, "Day Walks Near Tokyo" missed 20 years of changing river patterns and human habits. The path we were supposed to find petered out amidst thick growth rife with thorny plants and large spider webs.

Not all was lost. Sandy didn't mind the thorns a bit, and we found a nice rock outcrop near the river to enjoy our bento boxes. While sitting there, we could watch all the people who were--20 years after the book was published--making paths on the other side of the river for their picnics and fishing.

Finding a ice cream shop on the way home put a sweet spin on the whole outing.

Green in small spaces

While there is lots of concrete around, what I have discovered is that the Japanese bring nature to life in small spaces. Here are just a few examples of green space created around people's entryways, usually using potted plants.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The 5 of Japanese cooking

A japanese meal is supposed to exemplify these fives:

* Goshiki (five colors): aka(red); kiiro (yellow); ao (green); kuro (black); shiro (white).

* Goho (five methods): niru (simmer); musu (steam); yaku (grill); ageru (fry); tsukuru (create).

* Gomi (five flavors): shiokarai (salty); suppai (sour); amai (sweet); Nigai (bitter); karai (spicy).

* Gokan (five senses): miru (sight); kiku (hearing); kaku (smell); ajiwau (taste); fureru (touch).

A bit overwhelming to contemplate as a cook, but there is more::

* Gokan no mon — the five viewpoints or outlooks — a Buddhist doctrine referring to the state of mind to be maintained while partaking of the food. The first tenet is to ponder deep gratitude for the people who prepared the meal. Second is to perform deeds and have thoughts worthy of receiving such nourishment. Third is to partake of the food with no ire. Fourth is to realize that eating this food is feeding the soul as well as the body. And finally, the fifth consideration is to be seriously engaged on the road to enlightenment.

A little Japanese food for thought.

See this article from the Japan Times for more info