Ru the day

I had some spicy Japanese curry rice for lunch today. Japanese curry rice isn't usually as spicy as Indian curry. But whatever was in today's ru really had some kick. After one spoonful, I had a sudden hiccup/convulsion that almost knocked me out of my chair. The two co-workers I was with started laughing, and I laughed, too. It was the shock of it that had me laughing, rather than embarrassment. And then before I knew it, the guy next to me who also had ordered curry started hiccupping as well.


Thumbs Up

"No Country For Old Men" just opened here in Japan last Saturday. The title is shortened here to just "No Country." I went to see it on Wednesday night with Rie. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the Coen's "Fargo," which I can watch over and over.

On March 11, Javier Bardem came to Japan to promote the film. For some inexplicable reason, the actor was paired up on stage with Edo Harumi, a 40-something-old (?) comedian who recently won a TV comedy contest and has been showing up everywhere on variety shows. Her schtick is always the same. She wears a black suit-dress, then proceeds to rip it off to reveal some kind of red leotard underneath, then the song "My Sharona" starts to play, and she dances to the beat while reciting phrases that all end with the sound "gu." The "gu" sound means "good," and every time she says it, she gives a double thumbs-up to the cameras. I don't really see what's funny about it except for the fact that it's so bad it's funny. . . sort of.

I saw a bit of the press conference on morning TV news, and Bardem seemed somewhat amused, if a bit confused, by Harumi's presence. Yet he still went along with it and posed with her, both holding up their thumbs. Unfortunately, Rie couldn't get this image out of her mind, and it kind of ruined the movie experience for her. For some reason, I had forgotten about it, but I did think the first shot of Bardem looked a lot like Bananaman Himura. He's got the same bowl haircut!


Sutaa Waazu

I'm always searching for new ways to study and improve my Japanese. Recently, I discovered if I use the Force, I might be able to master my language skills. Since I practically know the lines of the movie "Star Wars: A New Hope" by heart, reading the script in Japanese allows me to understand the meaning without having to translate it. I found that this Star Wars website has the dialogue from all the movies in English and Japanese, including Episode 4, which I will always refer to as "the first Star Wars." I'm not sure if it's a Lucas-sanctioned site or not, so who knows how long it might be up. I already saved a hard copy just in case. By the way, if you want to say "May the Force Be With You" in Japanese, it's "Fousu ga tomo ni aran koto o!"



I love the traditional Japanese sweets known as wagashi. Over the weekend a show on TV featured a walking tour that included Kakushin Wagashi, an old store near Kagurazaka Station. The third generation owner decided that when he took over the business he would make wagashi that hadn't been made before. Some creations are decidely un-Japanese, like the "Indora," a dorayaki pancake-sandwich treat that replaced traditional bean paste with a mixture of spicy curry and almonds. But the shop's most popular sweet, especially among children, is "Oppai-chan." Oppai in Japanese means breasts, and that is exactly what this wagashi looks like. As for flavor, it's milk-flavored with apple slices and white bean paste. My mouth just waters at the site of it. . . or should I say them?

Manga Nightmares

I found a new subculture-ish bookstore on Kamiyama Street this weekend on my walk back from Shibuya. It was a very minimalist shop, which made it easy to spot things that might be worth reading. I wound up buying a copy of Ebisu Yoshikazu's "SF & Mystery Compilation," just one part of what appears to be a large collection of his comic works. Basically, I bought it because the artwork and subject matter appealed to me. I had no idea who he was until I got home and Rie told me that this is the guy that appeared on the TV show "Ikari Oyaji," loosely translated as "Angry Old Man." In the episode that he was in, he yelled at an onsen geisha for being stupid and having no life. Basically, that's what goes on in that show all the time. People with no lives get yelled at by older male TV personalities (but sometimes female ones appear, despite the show's name). Anyway, I read just a bit of the comic before going to bed, and I wound up having some pretty strange dreams. A look at Ebisu Yoshikazu's official website might help explain why.

Cool Cover

I've been watching a lot of the anime Manga Mukashi Banashi lately. The opening theme song and the closing song is pretty cool. Since the beginning of the year, Nissan has been running a commercial that features a punk-rock version of the closing theme, "Ningen-tte Ii Na." The band that covers the song is called GaGaGaSP, although the commercial credits them as GaGaGaDX. Maybe they're in the midst of a name change? Here's the commercial:

And here's the original closing titles from the anime for comparision:


Soy Sauce for Ice Cream

I love Japanese sweets. One of my favorites is mitarashi dango, round rice dumplings on a stick covered with a sticky, sweet and salty syrup. The base ingredient of that syrup is soy sauce. I always wanted to use that syrup for pouring on top of ice cream, since it is similar to caramel. Well, I found out recently that there already is a company out there selling soy sauce for ice cream. It's got a very original name: "Aisu-kurimu ni kakeru shoyu" (loosely translated, "Soy Sauce for Pouring Over Ice Cream"). I haven't found it on the shelves of the local supermarket, so I might either have to order it online or do what I originally was planning on doing, making my own. Additionally, I found some other interesting recipes in English from the official Kikkoman site, including this one for Green Tea and Soy Sauce Ice Cream.


Homeless Humor

I haven't read anything in a while except for news and stuff online. So I finally bought a new book to read, called "Homuresu Chugakusei" (Homeless Junior High Student). It's written by Tamura Hiroshi, a member of a comedy duo called Kirin. Supposedly, it's autobiographical and it tells how he had to live for a while in a park after his family got kicked out of their house. Since I've only been reading it before I go to bed, I haven't gotten very far, but it's a nice antidote to the TV and Internet. At the bookstore, I found that there is a comic based on the novel, and I also heard that there are already plans to make a movie version. A short while back, Tamura was the center of a prank by the London Boots comedians, in which three women pretended to be interested in him over the course of several weeks. Think of MTV's "Punk'd," but done in a way that can actually mess up someone's life!