How Sweet It Is! Making wasanbon tea sweets

The frothy whipped green tea served in traditional Japanese tea ceremony is strong and bitter.  But unlike Western style tea or coffee, one does not ever add sugar!  That is not to say that we completely ignore Mary Poppins' maxim. Rather, for over 400 years in Japan, whenever traditional tea ceremony tea is served, it … Continue reading How Sweet It Is! Making wasanbon tea sweets

Nori making: insights into a staple of Japanese cuisine

Nori, those paperlike sheets of dried seaweed, are popular in Japan as a tasty snack, as well as featuring in sushi and other famous Japanese dishes.  But the stuff doesn't grow on trees!  Or does it? Rows of dark rectangles in the water--telltale signs of seaweed farming are portrayed in Hiroshige woodblock prints of the … Continue reading Nori making: insights into a staple of Japanese cuisine

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine: conflicts, cartography, and other “stuff”

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine sits in the historic Fukagawa district of Tokyo, a neighborhood that developed and flourished during the Tokugawa shogunate (1602-1868) when Tokyo was known as Edo.  Indeed, the history of the shrine, founded in 1627, is inextricably tied to that of Edo. Edo began its life as a fishing village wedged between rivers … Continue reading Tomioka Hachiman Shrine: conflicts, cartography, and other “stuff”

Noodling on Shikoku: lessons in traditional noodle making

Japanese people love their noodles.  Across the country, you can't visit any size community that doesn't have a ramen shop.  But ramen is a Chinese import.  There are lots of indigenous Japanese noodles, too.  On a recent trip to Shikoku, I not only encountered plenty of these noodles, I got to have lessons in how … Continue reading Noodling on Shikoku: lessons in traditional noodle making