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Japanese Culture

May Guide Sign

May is a great time for hatsu-gatsuo, as sashimi or sushi.

Hatsu-gatsuo, the “first catch” of bonitos in the late spring to early summer

is a key word indicating early summer according to haiku rules

and has been highly appreciated as a delicacy of early summer for centuries.

“ For the eyes, there are green leaves and for the ears, the cuckoo’s song.

In addition, for the tongue you have the first bonito as well.

” This is a well-known haiku poem written by a haiku poet in Edo period((1603-1867).

It describes how much delighted Edoites were with the freshest seasonal things of early summer including the first bonito.

Grated raw garlic and ginger go well with uncooked katsuo or bonitos.

It is a great pleasure to taste the season’s foods while feeling the seasons.

The katsuo is one of the most versatile fish in Japan and appreciated in many ways.

Dried and fermented it becomes katsuobushi,

one of the main ingredients in dashi stock and creates the basic and essential flavor of Japanese cooking.

Traditionally katsuobushi is used in blocks and shaved using a wooden grater box because of it increased hardness.

Nowadays prepackaged katsuo shavings are more preferred than driftwood-looking katsuobushi at most households.

And as it symbolizes a married couple, it has been used as a thank-you gift to people invited to the wedding reception.

Unlike maguro or bonito which is an endangered species, katsuo is very abundant near the sea in Japan.

So you can enjoy eating as much raw katsuo as you want without worrying its extinction.




















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Japanese Culture

April Guide Sign

Cherry‐blossom front is moving northward in Japan.

It’s time to appreciate its short-lived beauty and throw a hanami party,

Hanami usually means an outdoor party under cherry trees.

In recent years, many people buy foods for the party at convenience stores and supermarkets.

Wari-bashi or disposable chopsticks automatically come with the ready-made food.

It is made of plain wood usually wrapped in paper and can be easily pulled apart to make two sticks..

Japanese food culture and chopsticks are inseparable.

Most Japanese people have their own personal pair of chopsticks at home that are washed and reused .

However, when we eat out or buy a lunch box lunch,

we usually use the disposable chopsticks provided and throw them away after use.

Waribashi are said to be unique to Japan.

They appeared 300 to 400 years ago during the Edo period (1603-1868),

when eel restaurant owners devised them for sanitary reasons.

Today about 25 billion pairs of waribashi are used annually in Japan – about 200 pairs per capita,

becoming controversial as a symbol of throwaway culture.

In the past, used waribashi were returned to the earth,

but they are now regarded as a waste material with adverse effects on the environment when burnt or buried.

However, environment conscious people have tackled the problem as below:

(1) recycling used disposable chopsticks into paper

(2) carrying one’s own chopsticks to use rather than disposable chopsticks

when eating out – the so-called “My Chopsticks” the spirit of “mottai-nai” or “waste not want not”

There are many chopsticks do’s and don’ts you have to stick to especially in a formal situation,

You have to follow chopstick etiquettes even in an informal atmosphere as below:.

First, food should not be directly moved from your chopsticks to someone else’s.

It is included in Japanese funeral rituals. Secondly, you shouldn’t spear food with your chopsticks.

It represents an offering presented to the newly deceased.

As the proverb goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

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