I’m going back to the UK for the Summer Holidays. So when I recently called home, my mother asked what I wanted to eat when I arrived. I instantaneously answered with “Fish and Chips”. Whether it be sitting in the garden of our family house back when I was a kid, or in the pub before an away football game, I have fond and delicious memories of eating them. In Japan, it’s not uncommon to find a rather underwhelming offering in Irish Pubs. But for a nation that slaps tempura batter on everything from prawns to asparagus, it’s strange that they’ve yet to understand the beautiful romance between the potato and white fish. That’s not to say the Japanese have no idea about the dish. On the contrary, if there’s one thing that Japanese people know about the UK aside from the Queen, Peter Rabbit and David Beckham, it’s “Fish and Chips”.
If you have lived or traveled around Japan, then you will have undoubtably sampled Japanese wagashi at some point. Usually enjoyed with green tea, wagashi are traditional confectionary that have been an iconic piece of Japanese food culture since the Edo Period (1603-1868). There is a dizzying amount of variety, ranging from Dorayaki to the bewildering world of Mochi, far from the realms of Butter Shortbread and Victoria Sponge Cake found back home.
As I previously explained, Hiroshima is famous for its variation on okonomiyaki. But when it comes to sweet treats, there’s nothing more popular than momiji manju. Every time I board the afternoon train, I can expect to see at least five people carrying bags containing souvenir boxes of them. And if you happen to be a salaryman taking a business trip to Hiroshima, you’ll definitely be expected to bring some back to the office. I usually buy them as a gift when travelling to friends’ houses. It’s a safe option if you’ve no idea what to get. Continue reading “Hiroshima and the Momiji Manju”
I go to an evening Japanese Language class once-a-week. It’s run by local volunteers who spend two hours of their own time teaching foreigners the language. We use textbooks, but I primarily use it for Japanese conversational practice. So each “lesson” boils down to talking about random things, much to the chagrin of one of the my fellow classmates.
Occasionally we’ll drop the textbooks and experience a part of traditional Japanese culture. Today we tried our hands at Japanese Flower Arranging (生け花). I’m no artist and have little understanding about flowers or horticulture, but I think I did a pretty good job. I kept it simple, remembering that saying “less is more” (here being the only situation where that advice seems relevant). The flower sensei didn’t even have to adjust anything on my display, unlike everyone else’s. Hahaha.
Back home, I’d rarely use the train unless travelling to London or the odd trip to Leeds. During my time at the University of Nottingham, I’d frequently take the “National Express” coach service to get home rather than deal with Northern Rail’s incompetence. Not only was it quicker, but more importantly it was cheaper. However after moving nearer to Hiroshima last year,returning my lease car and leaving ten minutes from the station, I’ve been travelling to work by train everyday. Continue reading “Things Japan Does Better than the UK: TRAINS”