Here’s a very interesting article that sums up the idea that Japan is a rich country with a relatively low standard of living. That is to say that the nation is affluent because the citizenry put in long hours and live in cramped, uncomfortable apartments. I can definitely identify with this having lived in Japan for 3 years.
Not too much to report on the personal front. I was doing some web research this morning for work for Japanese university recruiting contacts and I came across the article above.
I do miss Japan a little, but I love my new job and my big city life in NYC.
I started working as an intern at an internet-based progressive multi-issue political campaign start-up yesterday (yeah I know, the description is quite a mouthful). It is a collaboration between MoveOn.org, TheResPublica.org, and PurposeCampaigns.com. The name of the new project has yet to be decided, but we are planning to launch the new site late this year. In the mean time, check out our ad hoc campaign to stop violence in Israel/Palestine here: CeaseFireCampaign.org. My role is pretty random and all over the place right now. There are only about 5-6 people right now, but they are looking to expand in the near future. I spent the morning trying to debug some rather arcane HTML and the afternoon “shopping” online for a new office space (we are subleasing a shared office space with a PR firm right now). I like the challenges of doing all sorts of different things and learning on the fly. I definitely got a crash course in advanced HTML and New York commercial real estate yesterday. I wonder what is in store for me today…
So after work yesterday, I walked over to Japas 38 (9 East 38th Street, between 5th Avenue and Madison) for a JETAANY meeting (Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme Alumni Association of New York). For the first hour, we talked business: introducing old and new members, upcoming events, new event ideas, fundraising, etc. Then we spent the next few hours having some drinks, eating sushi and other izakaya food, and singing karaoke. The karaoke machines and song selection were exactly the same as the ones in Japan! 超 Very なつかしいね！Reminds me of old times — actually only about a month ago, I was singing karaoke until the early morning on my last night in Japan, but it seems almost like a distant memory of a past life.
A Fred and LS original recipe. We made this cold noodle salad for lunch on Friday and enjoyed it al fresco on the terrace.
cooked udon noodles, rinsed in cold water
julienned carrots and cucumber and turkey cold cuts
chunks of avocado
wedges of tomato
chopped green onion
Arrange the vegetables on top of the noodles in a bowl. Garnish with some sesame seeds and season with Wafu Dressing. Mix well before eating. If you can’t find Wafu Dressing, any soy, sesame or miso-based Japanese-style dressing will do. A perfect lunch for a late summer day.
My review of Washoku: Recipies From The Japanese Home Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh has just been published online at JapanVisitor.com. Check it out here.
I sold off a bunch of old books and CDs that were gathering dust in my closet today. I made just a little bit more than 500 US dollars, which will pay for my plane ticket to NYC and then some.
I also had lunch with my mom at a Japanese bakery/cafe. I had a spicy sukiyaki beef sandwich. Yummy!
Last night, I had dinner with the girls (Tash, Natalie, Isa) at Hakata Kinryu Ramen, a ramen restaurant across the street from my house. In local foreigners lingo, we often refer to this place as the “Green Dragon” becauce of the cute mascot on the sign and on the menus, but curiously, the Japanese name of the restaurant actually means “Golden Dragon”.
Japanese-style ramen should not be confused with the instant noodles that we often refer to as “ramen” in the West. Japanese ramen is legitimate restaurant food made with fresh ingredients. There are a variety of different region variations of noodles, soups and toppings across Japan. Kyushu, and in particular, the Hakata area, is famous for tonkotsu (豚骨) broth, which is made out of pork parts and bones which have been boiled down for hours. Basically, it is liquid lard, but it tastes really good!
I ordered my usual favorite and a house special, the black sesame and black vinegar ramen (黒胡麻黒酢ラーメン) with a side of 3 deka-gyoza (でか餃子) a.k.a. giant pan-fried pork dumplings, a unique Kinryu spin on the traditional, regular-sized gyoza. The black sesame/black vinegar soup is a lighter than the tonkotsu pork broth, which is a good thing during the humid Japanese summer. The ground up black sesame adds a richness and complexity in flavor to the soup, while the black vinegar adds a little bit of a zing and lightness to the whole production.
I went to visit the Usa [oo – sah] Shrine with Tash yesterday. The Usa Shrine is one of the most important shrines in Shintoism and is dedicated to the god Hachiman, who is the god of war and the divine protector of the Japanese islands and the Japanese people. Even though this shrine is only 30 minutes from my house, in the 3 years I have lived here, I had never been there before, so I decided to squeeze in some last minute cultural sightseeing before I return to the other USA, the United States of America. The shrine is an oasis of nature, with big trees and overgrown foliage and of beautiful, traditional architecture in an otherwise mundane modern suburban city of Usa.
Omikuji (fortune paper strips) tied to ropes.
Ema (wooden prayer plaques)