Harvesting myoga

Last Sunday, I harvested myoga (みょうが, 茗荷) grown on my balcony. Myoga (Zingiber mioga) that is used in Japanese cuisines is a close relative of ginger (Zingiber officinale). Unlike ginger whose edible part is rhizomes, myoga plants do not have fat roots. The part of the moyga plant that the Japanese eat is flower bud. Can you see the flower of myoga in the photo below?

Close-up view.

I could harvest eleven myoga from three containers last Sunday.

Raw myoga is used as trimmings for tofu, noodles and sashimi, but this time I made sweet pickle (amazu-zuke, 甘酢漬け) of myoga.


1. Mix the followings in a container to make pickling solution. A half-cup (100 ml) of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Dissolve the ingredients well.

2. Slice each myoga longitudinally into two halves.

3. Boil the sliced myoga for 40 seconds in boiling water.

4. Drain the hot water off the myoga.

5. Put the boiled myoga into the pickling solution while myoga are still hot.

6. Store the myoga in pickling solution overnight in refrigerator. You can eat the pickle next day. The myoga in pickling solution can be stored for a month in refrigerator. Pickled myoga is usually served as thin shreds since it has rather pungent taste.

Myoga plants can be grown pretty easily in garden and in containers. Roots of myoga are sold in February to April in many homecenters and gardening shops in Japan. Just by putting the roots in soil, you can harvest myoga in summer every year, since myoga is a perennial plant. One essential thing that you should know to grow myoga plant is that it hates direct sunlight, so you should keep the plant in the shade. I am growing the myoga plant in the northern balcony of my apartment.


B.B. Queens - Odoru Ponpokorin

Smash hit of B.B. Queens in 1990 when Japanese economic bubble was at its peak. This song is symbolic of those lighthearted days.

The male vocalist in B.B. Queens, Fusanosuke Kondo, is a blues singer who usually sings songs like this one (cover of "Sweet Little Angel").

[HT to gorogoro117]


Diary of Nobuo Tatsuguchi

This story describes the last days of a Japanese soldier on Attu Island. It's a rather old article dated 2005, but even after reading it many times it's still moving.

The diary of Nobuo Tatsuguchi, an American-educated Japanese doctor who was killed during World War II, quietly recorded the tragedies of the war, his own suffering and the last moments of Japanese troops on Attu Island at the western tip of Aleutians in the Bering Sea.

Taeko Tatsuguchi, his 92-year-old widow in Los Angeles shared her memories of her late husband and the war with Kyodo News.

''He was a faithful Christian doctor and a gentleman who devoted himself to God and communities,'' said Taeko.

Nobuo Tatsuguchi was born in Hiroshima on Aug. 31, 1911, as the second son of a Christian dentist who had been educated in the United States. Tatsuguchi also studied medicine at the College of Medical Evangelists, now Loma Linda University, in southern California.
As background information, I'd put below an outline of the Battle of Attu from Wikipedia.
On 11 May 1943, the operation to recapture Attu began. A shortage of landing craft, unsuitable beaches, and equipment that failed to operate in the appalling weather caused great difficulties in projecting any force against the Japanese. Many soldiers suffered from frostbite - because essential supplies could not be landed, or having been landed, could not be moved to where they were needed. Army vehicles would not work on the tundra. The Japanese defenders under Colonel Yamasaki did not contest the landings, but rather they dug in on high ground away from the shore. This resulted in bloody fighting: there were 3,929 U.S. casualties: 580 were killed, 1148 were injured, 1200 had severe cold injuries, 614 succumbed to disease, and 318 died of miscellaneous causes - largely from Japanese booby traps and from friendly fire. The Japanese were defeated in Massacre Valley (with some soldiers led by Sergeant Morgan Sinclair). The death count for the Japanese was 2035. The Americans then built Navy Town near Massacre Bay.

On May 29, the last of the Japanese forces suddenly attacked near Massacre Bay in one of the largest banzai charges of the Pacific campaign. The charge, led by Colonel Yamasaki, penetrated U.S. lines far enough to encounter shocked rear-echelon units of the American force. After furious, brutal, close-quarter, and often hand-to-hand combat, the Japanese force was killed almost to the last man: only 28 prisoners were taken, none of them officers. U.S. burial teams counted 2,351 Japanese dead, but it was presumed that hundreds more had been buried by naval, air, and artillery bombardments over the course of the battle.
The photo at the top of this post is from this page. According to the page, "The Japanese soldier to whom the film belonged was more than likely killed in the Battle for Attu some time during May of 1943, as there were only 28 surviving Japanese soldiers". Although the owner of the film tried to get the photos to the surviving families of the soldiers seen in the photos, it has not been successful to find the families.

Also, You can read a translated text of the diary of Nobuo Tatsuguchi here.


American crawfish and weed in Japan

According to Shinano Mainichi Shimbun, shipping of amerika-zarigani is now at its peak around the Lake Suwa. "Amerika-zarigani "or simply "zarigani" is a Japanese name for red swamp crawfish (Procambarus clarkii) that is native to North America.

When I was a kid, it was one of the pastimes to fish amerika-zarigani in the pond in my neighborhood. According to Japanese Wikipedia, this crawfish was first introduced into Japan from America in 1927 as a food for cultured bullfrog. The crawfish escaped from the cultivation pond and propagated in the nature. Now we can see amerika-zarigani everywhere in Japan. Although I didn't think of eating that crawfish when I was a kid, according to the Shinano Mainichi Shimubun article it is used for French cuisines in some restaurants nowadays.

Another common organism in Japan that has "amerika" in its name is the weed "devill's beggarticks" (Bidens frondosa) that is called amerika-sendangusa in Japan. After the Japan's surrender in WWII, American occupation force came to Japan. At the time, seeds of amerika sendangusa also came to Japan being attached to the soldiers and cargoes. The seeds of the plant have hooked barbs that attach onto clothing. When I was a kid, it was also a pastime to play with the seeds of america-sendangusa throwing them onto the clothes of friends each other.


WaiWai Correspondents' Club, Part 2

About a month ago, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age published reports concerning the WaiWai issue. Both articles that were similar to each other were written by a reporter Justin Norrie. I had something to say about those reports, but, since I am not good at commanding English as you readers may easily notice, I had not been able to write about them. I just noticed that Jun Okumura at GlobalTalk 21 has written about the article published in the Age. In the post, he wrote many of the things that I wanted to write. Please take a look at his post here.

I'd append here some additional comments concernig the Justin Norrie's article.

In the article, Mr. Norrie wrote:

In the past month the 39-year-old, originally from Melbourne, has become one of the most reviled figures in Japan, (...)
There seems to be a factual error. The editor of the WaiWai column, Ryann Connell, is not 39 years old, but 53 years old. According to his profile page written by himself, he was born March 25, 1955 (this page has a link to the cache of his profile page. Click the link at the top of the linked page to see the cache).

Then the article says:
When contacted this week, Connell said he was unable to comment. But The Age believes he has received death threats and is under strict police instructions to stay at home until things die down.
Connell was unable to comment, then how The Age was able to "believe" Connell had received death threats?

Mr. Norrie's another article in the Sydney Morning Herald has a similar paragraph.
When contacted this week, Connell said he was unable to comment on "any aspect of the case". But the Herald understands he has received several death threats and is under strict police instructions to stay inside his suburban Tokyo home until the matter dies down.
Connell was unable to comment on "any aspect of the case", then how the Herald was able to "understand" Connell had received several death threats? No one but the Herald and The Age can understand.

His reports on the WaiWai issue were so interesting that I tried to find other articles written by him. Of the articles found, this one titled "Boyos abroad raising the flag, shaming the nation" was especially interesting. He wrote in the article:
In the run up to Australia Day this year, organisers of the Big Day Out music festival triggered a nationwide round of chest-beating by declaring the national flag unwelcome at the Sydney event. Their aim, they said, was to prevent aggressive displays of nationalism and ethnic violence.

While the festival passed peacefully, the anticipated outbursts of drunken thuggery and cultural friction were unravelling 8500 kilometres away, on the freezing streets of Hokkaido, in northern Japan.

At Niseko, a small ski resort town dubbed "Little Australia" in honour of the Antipodean property developers and skiers who have driven its revival, the Japanese owners of Cafe Pow Pow had thoughtfully thrown a barbecue to mark the special day for their patrons.

They had supplied Australian wine, beer, meat pies and fish and chips - even fireworks. Before long their guests quaffed the lot and - amid the occasional refrain of "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!" - began throwing punches and glasses around the bar, then out in the street, in one of at least three brawls across the town that night, witnesses recalled.

"This fighting is common for Australians," a female bar worker at Pow Pow told the Herald. "They get drunk, take off their clothes, sometimes smash glasses and have fights - like it's fun."

The Australia Day skirmishes received no media attention.
Australian residents in Niseko had something to say about the report. The Australian Alpine Club Niseko wrote in their blog post titled "lost in translation?",
Justin Norrie, the Tokyo correspondent for the 'Sydney Morning Herald' recently wrote about alleged bad behaviour by Australians in Niseko, apparently evidenced by a brawl at Cafe Pow Pow on Australia Day this year. Bar staff from Cafe Pow Pow were quoted and the reporter observed that "[T]he Australia Day skirmishes received no media attention." The story has since been widely circulated on the internet.

A slight problem with the story is that according to Cafe Pow Pow and some who frequented the establishment on Australia Day, no such event occurred. This might explain why it received no media attention.

The following article was also interesting.
Australia also should "Rail at Australian's Tabloid Trash" about Japan.


Google maps street view has become available for Japan

Google has started the service of google maps street view for Japan. The street view is now available for Tokyo, Sendai, Sapporo, Hakodate and Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe area.

This is a link to a road in Akihabara area.


WaiWai Correspondents' Club

The latest issue of Number 1 Shimbun, a Monthly journal issued by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, has an article entitled "Wai oh Why?". The editorial of the issue says,

No. 1’s primary focus should be on stories that directly concern and are of interest to journalists – we’re a press club, after all.

For example, in this month’s issue, we’re running a fascinating story by Gavin Blair about the Byzantine machinations surrounding the Mainichi Shimbun’s closure of the WaiWai Web site.
The article shows how much ill-informed foreign correspondents in Japan are. The article describes the fuss on the WaiWai column as follows.
By June, Mainichi had issued an apology, removed all the archived stories, asked search engines to do the same, and promised to punish those involved.

Still, the protesters were not satisfied, bombarding companies that advertised with the Mainichi with demands to withdraw their sponsorship and calling for further punishment of its editors and Connell.
I don't think this is a correct description on the fuss about the WaiWai column. The initial apology from Mainichi issued on June 25 did not mention that the WaiWai column contained wrong information, although it was what many Japanese demanded. The apology from Mainichi stated,
Some of the articles in the "WaiWai" column carried in the Mainichi Daily News, the English Web site of the Mainichi Newspapers Co., Ltd., were inappropriate and made many people uncomfortable. (...)
WaiWai was meant to introduce aspects of Japanese society and social behavior by quoting magazines and other print media published in Japan. In late May, we received criticism saying the content was vulgar. The Mainichi Daily News Editorial Department deemed that some of the articles had inappropriate content and deleted those articles.
What many Japanese demanded of Mainichi was to clarify to the foreign readers that the WaiWai column contained wrong information about Japan, as I wrote previously. However, Mainichi's initial apology only stated that the WaiWai column contained "inappropriate" articles. It did not explain how the articles were "inappropriate". In addition, the apology could be taken by foreign readers as a statement suggesting that the articles contained correct information on Japanese society and social behavior, since it stated: "WaiWai was meant to introduce aspects of Japanese society and social behavior by quoting magazines and other print media published in Japan". The apology as a whole suggested that the only reason that Mainichi deleted the articles was that they were "vulgar". This apology indicated that Mainichi did not understand what in the WaiWai column made many Japanese upset. In addition, although the Mainichi announced punitive measures for people who had been responsible for the publication of the WaiWai articles, the Digital Media Division President was promoted the head of the Mainichi Shimbun Corporation on June 25, despite the fact that he had been the most responsible person for the WaiWai issue. Thus, the fuss continued until Mainichi issued more comprehensive apology on July 20.

After delivering misinformation on the fuss, the article in the Number 1 Shimbun suddenly changes the topic to a minor group who made a demonstration in front of the Mainichi's headquarters.
The Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai - Citizens' Group against Special Rights for Zainichi (Japan-born Koreans) – organized a demonstration in front of the Mainichi's headquarters on July 2 after WaiWai had been purged and punishments announced.
Several days before the demonstration, the Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Zaitokukai) announced on various boards at 2-channel that they will demonstrate in front of the Mainichi's headquarters. However, majority of 2-channelers who had been criticizing Mainichi responded to the call by warning other readers that attending the demonstration by the Zaitokukai would be perceived by other people as if the anti-Mainichi movement was organized by the particular organization. Many 2-channelers advised other readers not to attend the demonstration. Thus the demonstration on July 2 was a very small one. The attempt to attribute the anti-WaiWai movement to that minor group is just a delusive attempt to create the "Byzantine machinations" from nothing.

The author of the article seems to be fond of the WaiWai column featuring a tale of fishermen. He wrote,
It would be a shame to say goodbye to WaiWai without recalling at least one of its infamous stories in a little more detail. One, which combined the elements of humor, debauchery and a total lack of credibility, was the tale of fishermen having their way with various creatures of the ocean. Originally told by comedian Taro Makeburu, a former fisherman, to a Jitsuwa Knuckles columnist, it contained some of the following pearls: (...)
A small tidbit. The comedian mentioned in this article was not Taro Makeburu (負古 太郎) but Furutaro Make (負 古太郎). Furutaro Make was a member of the comedian group, Takeshi Gundan, lead by Takeshi Kitano. His name is a parody of a Japanese actor Shintaro Katsu (勝 新太郎). The kanji for "winning (katsu, 勝)" and "new (shin, 新)" in the Shintaro Katsu's name is changed into kanji of opposite meanings, "losing (make, 負)" and "old (furu, 古)", respectively, in the Make Furutaro's name. Just by seeing his name in the beginning of that article, Japanese can know that a bunch of jokes will follow in the article, but the authors of the WaiWai column and the Foreign Correspondents' Club's article had neither knowledge on the Takeshi Gundan's comedian nor ablility to investigate that background.

This WaiWai article fortunately contained a joke about moray that even foregin people could doubt the credibility of the article. Apparently that is the reason the Foreign Correspondents' Club's article mentioned that particular WaiWai article. However, can readers with little knowledge on Japan and Japanese people judge that the story on the bestiality restaurant is a fiction when he/she read it? The Foreign Correspondents' Club's article that intentionally avoided to mention problematic articles looks to be a desperate attempt to cover up the harmful nature of the WaiWai column.

As a minor note, the Foreign Correspondents' Club's article provided in the end a link to transcripts of WaiWai articles that is violating Japanese copyright laws; The Foreign Correspondents' Club, as an organization, seems to be trying to encourage and promote the violation of the laws. It's sad that this kind of people are working as foreign correspondents in this country.


Green algae in Quingdao city have found the way to go

In the Beijing Olympic, Quingdao (青島, Tsingtao) of China is hosting several events of the sailing competitions which will take place along the coastline by the city.

On July 1, Sankei MSN News reported that an algal bloom choked the coastline of the city and was threatning to impede the competition. In order to remove the green algae, 400 boats and 3000 people were mobilized for cleaning up the algal bloom. Perhaps, nutrients in the wastes flown out of the city caused the heavy algal bloom.

According to Asahi Shimbun on Aug. 1, the Quingdao City Communist Party stated that the algae were found to be green laver (Enteromorpha sp.) that is used for food in Korea and Japan and that they plan to export the algae to South Korea as a test for commercializing them.

I hope they never export the algae to Japan.