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2014年3月23日 (日)

Lesson for a mother and her son/母と息子の料理レッスン

The lesson I had this afternoon was a birthday gift lesson from a mother to her son. We did three kinds of sushi rolls, soup and a fish dish. Request for sushi is not surprising at all, but interestingly how to fillet a fish was one of the things they wanted to learn in the lesson. It was a wonderful sight that a to-be-14-year-old boy fillet a fish. Even in Japan, where fish is much more popular, many housewives don’t know how to do it and prefer to buy fillet. Well done, K!





2014年3月21日 (金)

Spring Equinox Day & bota-mochi/春分の日&ぼた餅

Spring Equinox Day is around 20th March (20th March this year), and the day is the middle of higan, a week-long Buddhist ceremony celebrated in Japan (Higan literally means the other shore and is the next world for Buddhists.) People clean family Buddhist altar, serve flower and water, invite Buddhist monks to read a sutra, and visit and clean family graves. This is the same with Autumn Equinox Day and higan in September.

Buddhism teaches how to reach from shigan/this world, the agonies of life, to higan/the other world, nirvana. It’s said that rituals are held on Spring and Autumn Equinox Day when day and night are equally long, because Buddhism values middle of the road.  

People prepare for bota-mohi (ohagi) for the day. Bota-mochi is for spring and ohagi is for autumn, because of the seasonal flower/plant; botan/tree peony and hagi/bush clover. Some says koshi-an/sweet smooth bean paste for bota-mochi and tsubu-an for ohagi. There’s no clear distinction between bota-mochi and ohagi. 





2014年3月 3日 (月)

Joushi, Hina-matsuri & Chirashi-zushi, Clear soup with hamaguri/上巳とちらし寿司、蛤のお吸い物

Joushi is one of the five sechinichi. (There’re five sechinichi in a year; Jinjitu on 7th January, Joushi on 3rd March, Tango on 5th May, Shichiseki on 7th July and Chouyou on 9th September.) It’s considered in ancient China that negative vibes that cause people harm penetrate on sechinichi, and people used to enter river to wash away physical and mental impurities. The sechinichi was brought in Japan and combined with a Japanese custom that had been already existed; Japanese people used dolls as effigies to rid them of misfortune and disease.

The origin of hina-matsuri/doll festival dates back to the Heian Period (AD794-1192) . People used to float dolls down the river as they believed the dolls would carry their impurities away. This custom started in the Imperial court and spread to commoners around the Edo Period (AD1603-1867). Dolls of emperor and empress, and attendants along with furniture and household goods represent the Imperial court. Traditionally emperor doll used to be on the left (right from observers), because the left side was superior. Since the cultural enlightenment after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, emperor doll sits on the right (left from observers), but some regions and families still decorate dolls in a traditional way. 

Chirashi-zushi and clear soup with hamaguri/common oriental clam are the festive dishes for the day. Auspicious ingredients such as shrimp (longevity), renkon/lotus roots (prospect), beans (live healthy and work mameni/diligently, mame means beans) are used for the sushi, besides something green, yellow and red that would make it colorful and represent spring.  Hamaguri/common oriental clam is bivalve, that is, shells are paired, and it represents faith and good match.





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