Saturday, May 31, 2008

Telephone Booth

In the age of cellphones and PDA's, telephone booths have become an endangered speices in large cities in Japan. However, in many smaller cities, such as Aomori, where the population is rapidly ageing, access to public telephones has to be maintained for those elderly citizens who are not entirly satisfied with cellphones.

I saw this telephone booth in Aomori, the Northernmost city of Honshu Island, when I visited there at the end of May. It was built on a concrete mount about one meter higher than the level of the street.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Taiyaki (fish-shaped pancake)

Taiyaki is a popular sweet which is mainly sold from Fall to Spring. It is sea bream-shaped pancake filled with sweet bean paste. When I went to Nagaoka station last Saturday, I found a taiyaki shop saying that they are closing soon because Spring is ending. It was a cool evening and I thought it was a good time for me and my wife to warm ourselves with the hot, sweet taiyakis.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Boxed Dinner

On the train trip back from Nagaoka City, Niigata prefecture, I had this boxed dinner. The box was made from the skins of bamboo shoots, a material not commonly used for this type of boxes. It reminded me of the bamboo shoots I took out this Spring in my garden. The skins might actually be imported from China, but the association and the soft touch of the box made me choose this out of several kinds. The hope was that the appearance would not betray the content.

Monday, May 19, 2008


On the edge of Meiji Park in Tokyo I found an unusual patch of greens. The grass didn't look like the usual kind we see in other parks. It was not a lawn. I took a bunch of it home with me. Upon seeing it, my wife immediately said that it was wheat. The idea of someone growing wheat in a Tokyo park is mind-boggling.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Yokan (jellied bean-paste)

Yokan is not my favorite because it often is too sweet. But this particular yokan is made of persimmon fruit and not so sweet. I like the idea of putting it in the bamboo container because by doing so the whole product becomes biodegradable. I also like the way they color and fold papers to decorate it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Foliage Plant

As the breeze from the window in my offce touched my forehead, the plant by the window drew my attention. The color of green was so gentle, the joggle of the leaves so soft. But I drew this efuto, rather wildly.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kumpei Raccoon

Kumpei Higashi produced an abundance of manga books, illustrations, and children's stories. There is a museum of his works, called Kumpei Dohwa-Kan, not far from our mountain villa. In early May we went there to see his work. There I bought this stuffed animal, called Kumpei Tanuki (raccoon), representing one of his characters. According to his widow, the face somehow resembles Kumpei himself.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Every Spring my wife and I look forward to getting taranome when we go to our mountain villa in Yamanashi prefecture. Taranome are Spring shoots of the taranoki tree, one of the most common wild trees in Japan, although it gets increasingly scarce as urbanization spreads toward the countryside. People are generally allowed to get into another person's property to take taranome and other Spring shoots of wild trees without permission. Therefore, we were expecting to see many of the shoots taken out when we get to the villa. This May we were fortunate to have a few shoots left intact. The taranome tempura was very good.