Posts

Showing posts from 2013

Samurai Food Movie

Image
If you like traditional Japanese food, you will love this film. How did the current amazing food culture here evolve? Well, we'll never know exactly, but Japan created a food culture that recently got UNESCO status. I agree with that, but I would also like to know more about what people ate back in the old days. Much of it came from the Buddhist temples, but here we have a fresh take on what made it all available to a lot of people.

Bushi no Kondate (Recipes of the Samurai) was released here on December 14, 2013 and I love all of it. The Japanese website has all kinds of bells and whistles, do explore bushikon.

The film illustrates dishes for all sorts of occasions—tai no karamushi (steamed sea bream stuffed with a mixture of okara bean-curd lees, pine nuts, ginkgo nuts, lotus root and others) for a wedding banquet; jibuni, which is a local stew containing duck meat or chicken, vegetables and sudare-fu (a type of wheat gluten) with soy sauce, sugar and other seasonings; and a…

In Praise Of Tofu - And Other Plant-Based Foods (Especially All The Green & Purple Ones)

Image
Great video by Dr. Neal Barnard about brain health, and how research supports eating a plant-based diet will help you avoid Alzheimer or dementia or forgetting your name at old age.

No kidding, the research is solid, showing that saturated fats and meat will in fact help build up bad stuff in your brain, adding to the metals you are exposed to and other stuff. You are at a higher risk.

Don't take my word for it, just watch the video.

One hour of very enlightening data and some laughs, Dr. Neal Barnard is that kind of guy. Come on, you have the time, or make the time. Your very own brain deserves it. They didn't teach you this at school, so it is up to you.



And why are old people in Okinawa so... old?

That is not going to continue to be the pattern if younger generations now change to eat spam (Spam?) and other dietary practices introduced after 1945.

Try Okinawan sweet potatoes as your basic food, instead of wheat or rice...

The Okinawan sweet potato is not related to the pota…

Rural Vs. Urban - So How Is Our Human Brain Supposed To Deal With The Constant Onslaught...

Image
Preferring the rural to the urban? Happen to be more happy in the countryside? Farm rather than firm?

Could that be "hard-wired" into your brain? Interesting piece of work by psychologists, who decided to take a look at how we are all trying to cope with our environment. While I have issues with the language, the study is interesting. I don't feel "hard-wired" but I do prefer trees to concrete.

Thanks (as always) to Tom for finding.

If you live in a mansion (apartment) in a high rise building in a city like Tokyo, Seoul or Beijing, you are obviously not in touch with what your brain is prepared to deal with. Make that London or New York, or wherever. Or Rio. Or Kiev. Or Stockholm. No wonder so much of the news is just about issues that do not really matter. People living in superlarge cities will find it more and more difficult to secure food, energy, news, "feeling at peace" than before.

Rural vs. urban may become the most serious battle, once WTO a…

Support Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ)

Image
Get the latest Japanese newsletter from Consumers Union of Japan, in Japanese. CUJ was founded back in 1969 and has been an independent voice for a long time.

Do check out the CUJ history, in English. I remember how proud we were when we got the NPO legislation status. Our main focus has been on the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, and the WTO, and the TPP. We also care about food labels and other cases of consumer fraud.

Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ) is a politically and financially independent non-governmental organization (NGO). CUJ is funded by membership fees, sales of its publications and donations. CUJ was founded in April 1969 as Japan's first nationwide grassroots consumer organization. It was officially certified as a non-profit organization on May 1, 2006 by the new Japanese NPO legislation.

NPO, NGO... these are the ways the government tries to keep people at bay. But Consumers Union of Japan and its many campaigns have managed to stay independent over 40 yea…

Thanks From The Philippines...

Image
... but a month later, NHK World reports that almost 4 million people are still displaced by the November 8 typhoon.

NHK World: 4 mil. still displaced in typhoon-hit Philippines
Almost 4 million people are still living in shelters in the Philippines one month after the year's most powerful typhoon hit the country.
Typhoon Haiyan swept through the country's central region on November 8th, bringing torrential rain and storm surges.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council says 5,796 people are confirmed dead and 1,779 others remain missing.
On Sunday, people in the affected areas attended Masses. In Tacloban, the main city of hard-hit Leyte Island, hundreds of people gathered at a local church from early in the morning and prayed for the victims.
The island's coastal regions still lack electricity and running water.
The Philippine government and international organizations are continuing relief activities, distributing supplies and providing medical…

GMO Corn Rejected By China, This Could Be Huge

Image
Illegal genetically modified organisms are a problem that raise regulatory concern. I wonder if Japan has tested for the GMO corn that China recently rejected. The biotech corporations that promote their GMO seeds appear to not have the situation under control, which is of course worrying. We all hope we can avoid the kind of food safety scandals that emerged when GMO potatoes and other illegal GMOs were found in the market.

Consumers want better labels to be able to avoid this all together, but we learn that TPP and other trade agreements may be used to block such information. Who benefits?

Bloomberg.com: China May Halt Corn Imports From U.S. on GMO Cargoes, Yigu Says

Buyers in China, the second-biggest corn consumer, may halt purchases from the U.S. as quarantine officials reject more shipments with a non-approved genetically modified variety,said Yigu Information Consulting Ltd.  

UPI.com: China rejects 60,000 tons of genetically modified U.S. corn

Read more: http://www.upi.com/B…

This And That

Image
I was interviewed today about food safety by ABC Radio and it should be broadcast in Australia on Wednesday. If Kurashi has any readers down under perhaps you will be able to catch it and tell me how I did. I like radio, and sometimes quote Ralph Nader from back when he was a consumer advocate who used to say that local radio is the most important channel to reach people. Might have been so before facebook and twitter and mixi and whatnot.

But I still do like radio.

Also, just back from The Philippines and a great meeting with Third World Network in Quezon City, near Manilla. Photo attached shows how seriously in 12 Asian countries we all take the issue of genetic engineering and the onslaught by American (Monsanto) and Swiss (Syngenta) and German (BASF, Bayer) corporations that aim to take over the world's food supply through patents and immoral practices. Be it rice or eggplant, they want to control it. And next is animal genetic resources, as ETC Group pointed out during the me…

Note From The Dear Old Moss Temple, Kyoto

Image
Just a personal note here from Koinzan Saihoji, the Moss Temple of western Kyoto, which I had reason to visit today. Didn't know it was the site of a villa (abode? hut? cottage? retreat?) of Prince Shotoku, then lots of water under the bridges, then more gardening mumbo-jumbo until Zen priest Muso took up residence and constructed this marvelous place. But I digress.

But before I stop digressing, I should add that 120 kinds of moss thrives here, something for all of you fans of biological diversity.

I have had reason to visit it frequently, as a matter of fact, and they recognize me there. Today, the kind fellow in a distinguished cloak greeting us at the gate to check if we have the proper post card which allows us to enter or not, later found me sitting in one of the garden's many resting places. He approached me and asked, again as a matter of fact, if I knew the Swedish lyrics of jazz standard Dear Old Stockholm. Well, there I am, enjoying the 120 different kinds of moss …

Shimakura Chiyoko RIP - Jinsei Iro Iro

A great enka singer has passed away and it was big news.

Her tunes were in movies from the 1950s, and here is her big hit, Jinsei Iro Iro.



死んでしまおうなんて 悩んだりしたわ
バラもコスモスたちも 枯れておしまいと
髪を短くしたり 強く小指をかんだり
自分ばかりを責めて 泣いてすごしたわ

ねぇおかしいでしょ 若いころ
ねぇ滑稽(こっけい)でしょ 若いころ

笑いばなしに 涙がいっぱい
涙の中に 若さがいっぱい
人生いろいろ 男もいろいろ
女だっていろいろ 咲き乱れるの

I once wanted to die and I was really in trouble.
I needed no roses nor cosmos flowers and wished they would all die away.
I often cut my hair short and bit my finger.
I thought I would be blamed alone and kept crying all day long.

Don't you think now that was youth itself?
There were things so funny when we were young.

We cried so often for every story.
And there was always a lot of youth in our tears.

There are many kinds of men and there are many kinds of women.
So we women are once in a while free to enjoy our lives.

(...)

Here is a rare live version with Mori Masako (left). Mori-san breaks down, the lyrics must be too close to her own troubles, I don'…

"Japan Is So Rich"

Image
Do watch the TED talk video, I have to share this post from Ten Thousand Things:


Alex Kerr's beautiful old/new Japanese country houses and the movement to save traditional Japan

Great talk and breathtaking photos by author and historic preservationist Alex Kerr at TEDx in Kyoto on his mission to save Japanese country houses.
Japan is so rich: the natural environment, the fantastic traditional culture, the wealth of beauty and materials and spirit of lifestyle that you find in these old places. It's there and it can be saved.Kerr uses double-paned windows for energy conservation. If his country houses were updated for solar, renewable energy, that would be even more modernizing, given 3/11's call to shift, downsize energy usage.
The reason small towns in Japan (and elsewhere) are experiencing depopulation is because they were built around local (agricultural, fishing) economies that have been collapsing under the global food industry's drive towards ever-increasing…

Protest Against New State Secrecy Law

If you wish to protest against Japan's proposed State Secrecy Law, this is your chance. NGOs are asking people to send fax or mail messages to opposition politicians who are trying to stop the bill:

Please send a message to express your concern about the new State Secrecy Law by November 7, 2013

The proposed State Secrecy Law will most likely be adopted this week by Japan’s Parliament, where the LDP can get a majority together with Komeito. However, many opposition lawmakers are trying to rally against the bill. They need your support! Please express your concern for how this new Law may violate people’s right to know. The clauses in the proposed Law are very vague on what exactly a “state secret” may be. It goes against democratic principles and at different events, answers to questions have not been properly answered.

We call for citizens and people living in Japan to send the following demands to the leaders of the oppositions parties:

1. The proposed National Security Coun…

Kaori Kobayashi - Free

I just love this tune.



Free, now that is a word that we all need to consider more carefully.

We need to stay free, stay cool, develop our aura, find ways to master the way of forgiveness, and maybe how to forget. And maybe how to find a way to continue to give. Not just let go but also hang on to the important stuff. Anyone has a better way to define "free" in words? Maybe it cannot be done.

I am glad we have gals like Kaori Kobayashi giving it a try, musically.

Miles Davis - Time After Time

Image
Enjoy your Culture Day evening, everyone.

First, Miles Davis, from a performance in Tokyo 1987. Some 8 minutes of pure loveliness.

(Thanks Per Bodner for the Miles Davies biography.)



Then, if you think you like jazz, finding his performances in Tokyo and Kyoto back in 1964 is a real treat. From back before everything went electric. Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. Sam Rivers on altsax. Here are the tracks (click on the mp3 files for the sound):

Tokyo, July 12, 1964:
http://ia700305.us.archive.org/12/items/MilesDavis1964-07-12HibayaYagaiTokyoJapan/

Kyoto, July 15, 1964:
http://ia700309.us.archive.org/3/items/MilesDavis1964-07-15MaruyamaKyotoJapan/

Found here.

Isn't the Internet amazing?

Japan: Radiation Education

Image
I believe in education... I remember learning about the Barsebäck nuclear reactors near my home town Malmö back when I was 10 years old, and when I tried to help collect signatures, one posh lady said, "Horrible, the anti-nuke people are using children to promote their opinion" and I remember distinctly how angry I got, "no, I'm not just a child, I am not being used...." It was my future that lady was dismissing.

Survival knowledge: Fourth-graders discuss the health effects of radiation exposure at Akagi Elementary School in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 21. | MIZUHO AOKI PHOTOS



Children taught radiation studiesThe Japan Times: Nuke education now compulsory subject in schools in FukushimaA group of elementary school students in Koriyama, about 60 km from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, may only be 10 years old, but they possibly know more about radiation than fourth-graders anywhere in the world.



Post…

TPP: Definition Of "Redact" Highlighted By US Rep. Alan Grayson

Image
From the dictionary

Redact:

to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release; broadly : edit. 3. : to obscure or remove (text) from a document ...

Over at Consumers Union of Japan we have come across this on several occasions, including our request to get details about Japan's handling of mad cow disease (BSE) and related documents, pertaining to beef imports from certain countries, and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms), and synthetic growth hormones (rBHG), where our experts finally in some cases were able to access data, but not allowed to photo copy it, thus had to endure a long process of writing it all down by hand.


POLITICO Pro October 25, 2013 4:13 PM Lawmakers rail against USTR’s use of the black marker


By Adam Behsudi

10/25/13 4:12 PM EDT
Rep. Alan Grayson couldn’t believe the response he got when he asked the top U.S. trade official to provide the negotiating positions of the other countries involved in the massive Pacif…