I have not posted for a while as I have just arrived from Okinawa, Japanese Island, where the longest life humans are.
So as you can guess today’s post will be about Japan.
Did you know that only 20-30% of our life expectancy can be determined through our genes? If you want to live to be 100, you may need more than just a sound set of X and Y chromosomes passed down from your parents. Lifestyle is the most important factor in determining not only how long you live, but the quality of your long life. It turns out the people from a small island off the coast of Japan, Okinawa, have figured out a secret recipe for living to be more than 100 years
I want to touch base the topic of Longevity Secrets from Japan and share some true stories from my vacation from Okinawa, and not only, my observations of people life style, food secrets, as well some weird things in Japan.
We flu there on 09/30, 2 hours flight from Shanghai, but because it was Chinese holidays, tickets were extremely expensive. You could easily fly to Europe for this price, for 2 adults and 1 kid over $3K. I did booking in August.
We have chosen Okinawa as our Polish friends were going there they wanted to see the Japanese Island were are longest lived people.
Okinawa (沖縄県, Okinawa-ken) is Japan’s southernmost prefecture, consisting of a few dozen, small islands in the southern half of the Nansei Shoto, the island chain which stretches over about one thousand kilometers from Kyushu to Taiwan.
Okinawa Prefecture can be divided into three major island groups, the Okinawa Islands (Okinawa Shoto) around Okinawa Island (Okinawa Honto), the Miyako Islands (Miyako Retto) around Miyako Island and the Yaeyama Islands (Yaeyama Retto) around Ishigaki Island.
Okinawa’s climate is subtropical, with temperatures barely falling below 15 degrees in winter. The seas surrounding Okinawa’s islands are considered among the world’s most beautiful with coral reefs and abundant marine wildlife. Consequently, snorkeling and scuba diving are among Okinawa’s top attractions.
The islands making up Okinawa Prefecture, are also known as the Ryukyu Islands, named after the native culture, which is distinctly different from that of the rest of Japan in terms of language, cuisine, arts, etc.
An independent kingdom and tributary state to China for several centuries, the Ryukyu Islands came under control of the Satsuma feudal fief (today’s Kagoshima Prefecture) in the 17th century, and were made a Japanese prefecture in 1879, accompanied by efforts to assimilate the native population. But despite these past efforts, the Ryukyuan culture survived and is now Okinawa’s other main attraction.
Towards the end of World War Two, Okinawa became the stage of one of the war’s bloodiest battles, when American troops invaded the islands. Okinawa remained under US administration until 1972, while several thousands of US military members remain stationed on the spacious and controversial US military bases on Okinawa Main Island today.
We stayed in Renaissance Okinawa Resort, a very nice 5 star hotel.
Hotel has 377 elaborate guest rooms including 15 suites afford magnificent sea views. For comfort of an even higher rank, rooms on the highest floor feature luxurious furnishings and private access to an exclusive lounge providing superb club services. There were 30 kinds of marine activities such as diving, yacht sailing, jet ski, etc. and field programs to come in touch with the nature of Okinawa, as well as dolphin programs to learn about while playing with dolphins.
The hotel has 5 unique shops offering a variety of items, one with the brand I like since provides a good quality clothes – Desigual with great design and holiday’s colors.
I was surprised that only few staff hotel members are speaking English, especially that for one night you need to pay approx. 45K JPY.
Anyway I was kind of positively surprised as in the package we had breakfast and lunch buffet which served a big variety of dishes.
About food a bit later on. The bill was surprising me more as a night charge was higher than what I got confirmed thru reservation.
Overall I was curious why Japanese lives so long and what makes them more healthy then other nations. What type of food they eat and what type of life style they have.
In Okinawa you would be surprised how much pork they eat. We recently rejected the pork due to its unhealthy fats.
It is true that for loosing weight pork is not the best kind of meat, however the way it is prepared and served with special vegetables, like a bitter melon makes a big difference.
Basically bitter melon is added to a lot of dishes and I will show a few photos later in the article. Japanese they even drink juice made from bitter melon which is bitter but also a kind of refreshing, you can buy it in form of dry powder. I wrote about health benefits of bitter melon before.
I will also later show one of the famous traditional Okinawa dish made from a bitter melon.
Let us have a more deep look into Okinawa cuisine history and influence of other cultures.
Okinawan cuisine is the cuisine of the Okinawa islands of Japan. The cuisine is also known as Ryukyuan cuisine, a reference to the Ryukyu Kingdom. Due to differences in culture, historical contact between other regions, climate, vegetables and other ingredients, Okinawan cuisine differs from mainland Japanese cuisine.
Okinawan cuisine incorporates influences from Chinese cuisine and Southeast Asian cuisine due to its long history of trade. The sweet potato, introduced in Okinawa in 1605, became a staple food in Okinawa from then until the beginning of the 20th century. The Goya (bitter melon) and Nabera (luffa or towel gourd) were “likely” introduced to Okinawa from Southeast Asia. Since Ryukyu had served as a tributary state to China, Ryukyuan cooks traveled to Fujian Province to learn how to cook Chinese food; Chinese influence seeped into Okinawa in that manner. The method of distillation of awamori likely originated from Siam (Thailand) and traveled to Okinawa during the 15th century. After the lord of the Kagoshima Domain invaded the Ryukyus, Okinawan cooks traveled to Japan to study Japanese cuisine, causing that influence to seep into Okinawan cuisine.
Okinawa was administered by the United States after World War II, during which time various canned foods were popularized. American hamburger shops entered into the Okinawa market earlier than on the mainland. It was during this period that Okinawans became familiar with Americanized food culture. The cuisine has evolved in modern times, especially because of the American military presence on Okinawa since the end of World War II.
Besides vegetables and fruits, the influences of southern and southeastern Asia are evident in Okinawan cuisine in its use of herbs and spices, such as turmeric, used in Okinawa more often than in mainland Japan, but less frequently than other tropical island cuisines. Okinawan cuisine’s condiments consist mainly of salt, miso, bonito flakes (katsuobushi) or kombu. Compared to mainland diets, Okinawan dishes do not use as many kinds of mushroom.
Another characteristic of Okinawan cuisine is its reliance on meat. The main protein sources of Okinawan cuisine are derived from livestock, specifically pigs. Buddhism spread less widely in Okinawa, and the islands were less influenced by the non-meat eating practices of the Tokugawa shogunate. Okinawan has had a culture of using livestock since the Edo era. An Okinawan saying states that Okinawan cuisine “begins with pig and ends with pig” and “every part of a pig can be eaten except its hooves and its oink.”
Despite being surrounded by the sea, Okinawans eat relatively little seafood compared to other maritime cultures. Fish and other seafood products were traditionally difficult to preserve in the high temperatures of the Okinawan islands. Additionally, the islands are surrounded by relatively few fish species. The primary preparations of fish are pickling in salt (shio-zuke), dried, grilled, simmered in soy sauce (nitsuke), and as kamaboko, a processed seafood product typically made from white fish. Sashimi is served in Okinawa, but is limited by the inability to retain freshness due to high temperatures on the islands. Sashimi, unlike on the main islands of Japan, is not part of a full course meal.
Edible kelp varieties are also popular ingredients, such as kombu.
Kombu (昆布 konbu?) is edible kelp from the family Laminariaceae and is widely eaten in East Asia. It may also be referred to as konbu(Japanese), dashima (Korean: 다시마) or haidai (simplified Chinese: 海带; traditional Chinese: 海帶; pinyin: Hǎidài). Some edible kelps in the family Laminariaceae are not always called kombu, such as arame, kurome (ja) (Ecklonia kurome) or Macrocystis pyrifera. Most kombuis from the species Saccharina japonica (Laminaria japonica), extensively cultivated on ropes in the seas of Japan and Korea. With the development of cultivation technology, over 90% of Japanese kombu is cultivated, mostly in Hokkaidō, but also as far south as the Seto Inland Sea.
Kombu is sold dried (dashi kombu) or pickled in vinegar (su kombu) or as a dried shred (boro kombu or shiraga kombu). It may also be eaten fresh in sashimi.
Kombu is used extensively in Japanese cuisines as one of the three main ingredients needed to make dashi, a soup stock. Kombu dashi is made by putting either whole dried or powdered kombu in cold water and heating it to near-boiling. The softened kombu is commonly eaten after cooking or is sliced and used to make tsukudani, a dish that is simmered in soy sauce and mirin.
Kombu may be pickled with sweet-and-sour flavoring, cut into small strips about 5 or 6 cm long and 2 cm wide. These are often eaten as a snack with green tea. It is often included when cooking beans, putatively to add nutrients and improve their digestibility.
Kombucha 昆布茶, “Kombu tea”, is a beverage brewed from dried and powdered kombu. This is sometimes confused with the English word kombucha for the fermented and sweetened tea from Russia, which is called kōcha kinoko (紅茶キノコ) in Japan.
Kombu is also used to prepare a seasoning for rice to be made into sushi.
Kombu is a good source of glutamic acid, an amino acid responsible for umami (the Japanese word used for a basic taste identified in 1908). Several foodstuffs in addition tokombu provide glutamic acid or glutamates.
Kombu contains iodine, a mineral that is essential for normal growth and development. However, its high iodine content has been blamed for thyroid problems after drinking large amounts of soy milk in which kombu was an additive. Therefore people suffering from hyperthyroidism should rather eat wakame which contains a lower amount of iodine.
It is also a source of dietary fiber. Algae including kombu also contain an entire families of obscure enzymes that break down complex sugars that are normally indigestible to the human gut (thus gas-causing), like alpha-galactosidase and beta-galactosidase.
Genetically manipulated E. coli bacteria can digest kombu into ethanol, making it a possible maritime biofuel source.
Japanese name followed by species:
• Karafuto kombu (Saccharina latissima), contains mannitol and is considered sweeter
• Ma-kombu (Saccharina japonica)
• Mitsuishi-kombu or dashi-kombu (Saccharina angustata), commonly used in the making of dashi
• Naga-kombu (Saccharina longissima)
• Rishiri-kombu (Saccharina ochotensis), commonly used for soup stocks
Okinawans make salad, soup, or tempura using Cladosiphon okamuranus(モズク), Hijiki and so on. Okinawan cuisine frequently uses kombu, not only in making soup stock, but also in preparing braised dishes, stir fried dishes and so on. Okinawa is one of the largest consumers of kombu in Japan. but they don’t cultivate it.
Okinawan staple foods are traditionally potatoes, such as sweet potato or taro root, but they are substituted to rice or wheat flour, then Okinawans developed original dishes such as taco rice, etc.
After the end of the occupation, they still have original food cultures, and Americanized foods are frequently eaten in their diets. But, Okinawan people do not consume dairy foods so much, such as milk and cheese. Bread is not so popular as a staple food.
Meat and meat products
• Passion fruit
• Citrus fruit
• Goya/bitter melon
• Taro root
• Salad leaves
Grains and grain products
• White rice
• Brown rice
– Goya chanpuru
Overall Goya /biter melon is added to many dishes: salads, served with scramble eggs, in form of drink, even made salad dressing of it, which with mint gives very refreshing taste. In the Four Season Restaurant it such dressing was served in salad bar.
Here you can see photo of my breakfast salad, with green dressing, very tasty. I probably would not think you could comine ingredients like bitter melon and mint for salad dressing.
In the lounge you could find also a lot of unusual juices and of course bitter melon, here is the photo:
Chanpuru (Okinawan: チャンプルー Chanpuruu) is an Okinawan stir fry dish. It is considered the representative dish of Okinawan cuisine. Chanpuru generally consists of tofu combined with some kind of vegetable, meat, or fish. Luncheon meat (such as Spam or Danish Tulip), egg, moyashi (bean sprouts) and goya (bitter melon) are some other common ingredients.
Goya chanpuru (ゴーヤーチャンプルー), also transliterated as Goya champuru, is a type of chanpuru that is a popular and widely recognized dish in the Okinawan cuisine of the island of Okinawa, Japan. It is a stir fry of bitter melon, tofu, egg and sliced pork.
I was eating it on my breakfast or brunch, here how it looks:
Here the recipe, if you do not like bitter taste of a bitter melon you may not like it:
• 300 gfirm tofu
• 1bitter melon (goya)
• ½ tspsalt
• 1 tbspvegetable oil
• 150 gSpam, cut into large pieces, or 150 g pork belly, skin and bone removed, thinly sliced
• 2 tbsplight soy sauce
• 1 tbspsake
• 1 tbspmirin
• 2eggs, beaten
• 1 handful(about 5 g) bonito flakes
To prepare the tofu, wrap in paper towel and place in a dish. Place a heavy plate on top and stand for 15 minutes.
To prepare the bitter melon, split it in half lengthways and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and spongy centre. Scatter with the salt and allow to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse well in cold water and drain. Slice widthways into strips.
Heat a wok and add the oil. Stir-fry the Spam or pork belly until browned and it has released its oil. Remove from the wok and set aside. Add the bitter melon and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until softened. Remove it from the wok and set aside with the Spam.
Add a little more oil to the wok if necessary, and break the tofu into the oil. Fry, stirring just occasionally, until the tofu starts to brown. Return the Spam and bitter melon back to the wok and add the soy, sake and mirin, and toss to combine.
Move all the contents of the wok to one side and add the beaten egg to the open side. Stir the egg until it starts to set, then stir through the other ingredients. Toss through the bonito flakes, season to taste and serve.
Okinawa soba (沖縄そば?) is a type of noodle soup produced in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. In Okinawa, it is sometimes simply called soba, or suba in many Okinawan dialects, although it is different from buckwheat noodles known as soba in the rest of Japan. The thick wheat noodles resemble udon, while the soup is more similar to that of ramen
Ramen (/ˈrɑːmən/) (ラーメン rāmen?, IPA: [ɽäꜜːmeɴ]) is a Japanese noodle soup dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodlesserved in a meat- or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork(チャーシュー chāshū?), dried seaweed (海苔 nori?), kamaboko, and green onions. Nearly every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido.
The noodles tend to have a circular cross section in the Yaeyama Islands, and tend to be slightly flat in the rest of the Okinawan archipelago. It is served in a broth flavored with konbu (edible seaweed), katsuobushi flakes and pork.
Standard toppings are kamaboko (fish cake), sliced scallion and a thick slice of stewed san-mai niku (三枚肉?, pork belly; lit. “three-layer meat”) or soki (boneless pork ribs), and usually garnished with beni shōga (pickled ginger).
For extra spice, diners can add a few drops of kōrēgūsu (高麗胡椒, コーレーグース “Korean pepper”), which consists of chile pepperssoaked in awamori rice liquor.
– Taco rice
– Umi-budō, Caulerpa lentillifera is one of the favored species of edible Caulerpa due to its soft and succulent texture. They are also known as sea grapes or green caviar. C. lentillifera is farmed in the Philippines, where it is locally called ar-arosep,lato,arosep or ar-arosip (as variant names), latok in the Malaysian state of Sabah, and in Okinawa where the plant is eaten fresh:
– Umi-budō served Okinawan style
The pond cultivation of C. lentillifera has been very successful on Mactan Island, Cebu, in the central Philippines, with markets in Cebu and Manila. About 400 ha of ponds are under cultivation, producing 12–15 tonnes of fresh seaweed per hectare per year. C. lentillifera is also eaten inOkinawa, where it is known as umi-budō (海ぶどう?), meaning “sea grapes”.
C. lentillifera is usually eaten raw with vinegar, as a snack or in a salad. In the Philippines, after being washed in clean water, it is usually eaten raw as a salad, mixed with chopped raw onions and fresh tomatoes, and dressed with a blend of fish sauce or fish paste (locally called bagoong) and vinegar. It is known to be rich in iodin
Hirayachi (Okinawan: ヒラヤーチー Hirayaachii) is an Okinawan pancake-like dish. The ingredients consist of eggs, flour, salt, Black pepper and green onions, fried with a little oil in a pan. It is similar to a very simple type of okonomiyaki.
We used to go for breakfast to the restaurant in the hotel that specialized in different pancakes. I love green tea pancake.
You could choose topping, during the dinner chocolate pancakes with ice cream were delicious.
This is the photo of the one I was drinking in a very good local restaurant. At first place the owner who was sitting in a bar, was giving us a try what he was drinking, it had 60%, it looked like for him that % did not make him even tired. I took a sip but the taste was way to strong for me. After that I have order much lower % approx. 20% strong.
Awamori (泡盛) is an alcoholic beverage indigenous to and unique to Okinawa, Japan. It is made from long grain indica rice, and is not a direct product of brewing (like sake) but of distillation (like shōchū). All Awamori made today is from indica rice imported from Thailand, the local production not being sufficient enough to meet domestic demands.
Awamori is typically 60–86 proof (30–43% alcohol), although “export” brands (including brands shipped to mainland Japan) are increasingly 50 proof (25% alcohol). Some brands (notably hanazake) are 120 proof (60%) and are flammable. Awamori is aged in traditional clay pots to improve its flavor and mellowness.
The most popular way to drink Awamori is with water and ice. When served in a restaurant in Okinawa, it will nearly always be accompanied by a container of ice and carafe of water. Awamori can also be drunk straight, on the rocks, and in cocktails. Traditionally,awamori was served in a kara-kara, a small earthen vessel with a small clay marble inside. The marble would make a distinctive “kara-kara” sound to let people know the vessel was empty, because it was considered rude to pour from an empty vessel for your drinking companions as Awamori was an expensive and treasured drink. These vessels are still found in Okinawa, but the clay marbles are often absent.
Another name for Awamori used in Okinawa is “island sake” (島酒 shima-zake?), or shima for short.
In general the price of Awamori increases with the beverage’s age, as it is not surprising as normal for most of the alcohol beverages.
Not only does Okinawa have some of the most beautiful beaches in Japan but it also has some of the most interesting brews and distilled liquor that must be sampled when at the area. Sake and sochu are known for being created by the Japanese but awamori is the tropical version of sochu that the world needs to know about as well. Hailing from Okinawa, this drink is popular in the islands and is enjoyed by most people. It is similar to vodka but not as strong but awamori has certain flavors that will be enjoyed by the taste buds. Awamori can be drank on the rocks or used as a mixer for cocktails or drinks by the beach. There are cask-aged versions called kusu or “old liquor” which is greatly appropriate for the drink. Most are aged between three to ten years.
Awamori can be found anywhere in Okinawa and costs under ten dollars for a liter. There are arrays of choices when it comes to awamori. The simplest form can cost like nothing but the higher-end prices are more than double the cheapest price. It is good to have basic knowledge of the local awamori. Try chatting with some friendly locals to gauge what type of awamori would better suit you but a glass of awamori by the Okinawan coast would definitely not disappoint.
Places that serve awamori is sure not going to run out anytime soon. Anywhere you may be in Okinawa, there is a place ready to serve you a glass. There are several awamori breweries in the island and if you have certain interest in the process then it would be an experience to check them out.
For those who are looking for something more adventurous, then try the aged liquor with a pit viper inside. This is a strong drink and is something that might not be liked by most people; endurance is importance when downing this shot.
– Orion beer
– Beniimo (紅芋)
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae.
Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Ipomoea batatas is native to the tropical regions in the Americas. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance—some others are used locally, but many are poisonous. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and does not belong to the nightshade family.
The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as ornamental plants; the name tuberous morning glory may be used in a horticultural context. The plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalousflowers. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between yellow, orange, red, brown, purple, and beige. Its flesh ranges from beige through white, red, pink, violet, yellow, orange, and purple. Sweet potato varieties with white or pale yellow flesh are less sweet and moist than those with red, pink or orange flesh
Chinsuko (ちんすこう/金楚糕 Chinsukō?) is a traditional sweet often sold as a souvenir (miyagegashi) on Okinawa, Japan. It is a small biscuit made of mostly lard and flour, with a mild and sweet flavor very similar to shortbread. Chinsuko was introduced to Okinawa some 400 years ago from China
We had this biscuit as welcome sweet from the hotel.
– Sata andagi
Sata andagi (サーターアンダーギー Saataa andaagii?) are sweet deep fried buns of dough similar to doughnuts (or the Portuguese malasada, or the Dutch oliebollen, Poolish pączek), native to the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. They are also popular in Hawaii, sometimes known there simply as andagi. Traditional Okinawan andagi is made by mixing flour, sugar and eggs. The ingredients are mixed into a ball and deep fried. Saataa means “sugar”, while andaagii means “deep fried” (“oil” (anda) + “fried” (agii)) in Okinawan (satō and abura-age in Japanese.) It is also known as saataa andagii and saataa anragii. Sata andagi are a part of Okinawan cuisine. Like most confectionery from the Ryukyu Islands, the techniques for making them are descended from a combination of Chinese and Japanese techniques, although other sources say it simply is a derivative of a Chinese dish. They are typically prepared so that the outside is crispy and browned while the inside is light and cake-like
When coming back from the local restaurant we stopped at the small kind of stand kiosk, which sold local freshly homemade Sata andagi, which you wuold name in English donuts and in Polsih Pączki.
Some of them are served on stick, some looks identical like our Polish Jagodzianka, variously filled: chocolate, apple-cinnamon, pudding.
Japanese Green Tea:
Matcha (抹茶?, is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. It’s special in two aspects of farming and processing: The green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest, and the stems and veins are removed in processing.
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha. In modern times, matcha has also come to be used to flavour and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of wagashi (Japanese confectionery). The former is often referred to as ceremonial-grade matcha, meaning that the matcha powder is good enough for tea ceremony. The latter is referred to as culinary-grade matcha. However, there is no standard industry definition or requirements for either. Different matcha manufacturers might provide their own definitions.
Blends of matcha are given poetic names called chamei (“tea names”) either by the producing plantation, shop or creator of the blend, or by the grand master of a particular tea tradition. When a blend is named by the grand master of a tea ceremony lineage, it becomes known as the master’s konomi, or favoured blend.
In Tang Dynasty China (618–907), tea leaves were steamed and formed into tea bricks for storage and trade. The tea was prepared by roasting and pulverizing the tea, and decocting the resulting tea powder in hot water, adding salt. In the Song Dynasty (960–1279), the method of making powdered tea from steam-prepared dried tea leaves, and preparing the beverage by whipping the tea powder and hot water together in a bowl became popular. Preparation and consumption of powdered tea was formed into a ritual by Chan or Zen Buddhists. The earliest extant Chan monastic code, entitled Chanyuan Qinggui (Rules of Purity for the Chan Monastery, 1103), describes in detail the etiquette for tea ceremonies.
Zen Buddhism and the Chinese methods of preparing powdered tea were brought to Japan in 1191 by the monk Eisai. Although powdered tea has not been popular in China for some time, there is now a global resurgence in Matcha tea including in China. In Japan it continued to be an important item at Zen monasteries, and became highly appreciated by others in the upper echelons of society during the 14th through 16th centuries.
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves also used to make gyokuro. The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest and can last up to 20 days, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, stimulates an increase in chlorophyll levels, turns the leaves a darker shade of green, and causes the production of amino acids, in particular theanine. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying as usual, the result will be gyokuro (jade dew) tea. However, if the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha (碾茶). Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone-ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.
It can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha.
The flavour of matcha is dominated by its amino acids.
When you drink matcha you ingest the entire leaf and receive 100% of the nutrients of the leaf Matcha powdered green tea has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. One cup of matcha = 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea in terms of nutritional content.
Healthy benefits of Macha:
– Is packed with antioxidants
– Is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins
– Provides vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium
– Boosts metabolism and burns calories
– Detoxifies effectively and naturally
– Calms the mind and relaxes the body
– Enhances mood and aids in concentration
– Prevents disease
– Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar
Matcha tea is an easy and simple way to add powerful health benefits to your everyday diet.
Now we are getting closer to answer why Japanese lives so long.
We can compare the culture of drinking Matcha in Japan to similar celebration of drinking tea in UK, I hope by this comparison I did offend the Japanese culture delectation and meditation with Matcha. A bit more explanation is probably needed here.
The preparation of matcha is the focus of Japanese tea ceremonies, and it has long been associated with Zen. This is likely one reason it’s becoming so popular, as meditation is becoming more and more mainstream. Because I’m blown away by the research on the health and weight loss benefits of mindfulness meditation.
Because you’re consuming whole leaves in matcha, you may get three times as much caffeine than a cup of steeped tea, about the amount in a cup of brewed coffee. Matcha aficionados say that compared to the caffeine buzz from coffee, matcha creates an “alert calm” due to a natural substance it contains called l-theanine, which induces relaxation without drowsiness.
The taste of matcha is strong. Some people describe it as grass or spinach-like, and it has an umami taste. Because of this it may be sweetened to improve its palatability. One client was thrilled to tell me that he was drinking matcha, but instead of traditional matcha powder, he was drinking a powdered mix. The first ingredient was sugar, and it also contained powdered milk, so it was essentially like hot chocolate—but with cocoa swapped for matcha—something I wouldn’t recommend. Tea experts also warn that with matcha quality is key, and it comes at a cost. In other words, high quality, fresh, pure matcha is expensive. A low price tag can be a red flag for a poor quality product. Even organically grown green teas have been shown to contain lead, which is absorbed by the plant from the environment, particularly tea grown in China. When traditional green tea is steeped, about 90% of the lead stays in the leaf, which is discarded. With matcha, since the whole leaf is consumed, you will ingest more lead. Therefore, is not recommend drinking to children and an adult should not drink more than one cup a day. So better look for pure, organic, quality matcha, and enjoy it in moderation.
I bought in Okinawa 2 kinds available. Here are the photo.
Matcha can be added to many dishes and not only as a beverage, but as an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
If you find everything from matcha muffins, brownies and puddings, to matcha soup, stir frys, pancakes, ice creams and guacamole, dressings, blend cocktails, and as well alcoholic beverages.
Okinawans are known for their longevity; five times as many Okinawans live to be 100 than the rest of Japan, and the Japanese themselves are the longest lived nationality in the world.
The heaven of longevity is encountered in the Japanese island of Okinawa, which, besides detaining the record of longevity and centenaries of the world, is the only place on the planet where 80-90 years olds live like persons 30 years younger.
ncient Chinese legends already called Okinawa “the land of the immortals”. Thousands of people saw it: 7 years ago Seikichi Uehara, 96, defeated an ex box champ in his 30’s. Or the case of Nabi Kinjo, 105, that killed with a flyswatter a poisonous snake. There are 100 years old persons that do not even think about retirement in Okinawa. There are 457 persons on Okinawa aged 100 or over, an average of 35 for each 100,000 inhabitants. It is the highest in the world.
If Japanese people live longer than any other nation, the Okinawa inhabitants reach ages that take by surprise even the other Japaneses: an average of 86 for women and 78 for men.
But the real shocking factor is not that Okinawa people reach these ages, but that they get old in a much better state. The statistics reveal a significantly lower risk of heart attack and stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer. And some Okinawans on their 90’s ensure and reinsure that they still have sex life (without Viagra).
After decades of research, medics and anthropologists reached the conclusion that there are two main factors behind the longevity in this island: alimentation and a healthy lifestyle that experts believe that can be imitated. The aliments eaten by the Okinawans can be found everywhere, even if there may be also something about the soil of the island.
Want to know the Okinawan secret to living a long, productive life? Here it is broken down into easily digestible bits:
Mental & Physical Activity:
Elderly Okinawans often exercise both physically and mentally. But remember, these people do not go to fitness gyms (there are no such things in Okinawa) nor do they practice jogging; they can practice the profound respiration, the tai-chi, and gardening or other activities in the open that affect positively the stress level. They are rather preoccupied by hobbies, but linked to a social network, that makes them feel connected to the environment and their fellows and develop their spiritual side. Physical activity is not isolated, but it has an objective, making the elders feel active members of the community.
The elder of Okinawa have surprisingly low depression levels. On the streets of Okinawa you can see persons aged 90-100 on motorcycles or mountain bikes, which practice karate, kendo, dance, walk several kilometers daily, and even work on vegetable gardens and after that sell their vegetable
Their diets are low in salt, high in fruits and vegetables, and contain plenty of fiber and antioxidants that protect against the major diseases of the West, including heart attack and cancer. In case they consume salt it would be the sea salt. Although they consume more soy (60-120 grams daily) than almost any other population on earth, it is not GMO soy as grown in the US. Soy is high in flavanoids and is healthful when not genetically modified. Nowadays you should be carefull with soy & soy products ass if not organic may be more harmful to your health then it would bring benefits to you.
OKinawns intake very little amount of dairy products & meat. The traditional diet of Okinawa consists in portions made of a bowl of cooked food and a fruit. Okinawans eat daily seven portions of vegetables and fruits, seven of cereals and two of soy products. They take various portions of fish weekly and very sporadically meat and dairy products. Overall, their diet is low in calories and contains a lot of vegetables. Okinawa’s indigenous vegetables were particularly interesting: their purple sweet potatoes are rich in flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin E and lycopene, and the local bitter cucumbers, or “goya”, have been shown to lower blood sugar in diabetics.
They do not drink sweet sodas, instead they drink green tea full with antioxidants.
The Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and stomach cancer, a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. They eat three servings of fish a week, on average … plenty of whole grains, vegetables and soy products too, more tofu and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, as well as squid and octopus, which are rich in taurine – that could lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Okinawans don’t overeat. They have a practice called hara hachi bu, which means “8 parts out of 10, full.” They never eat so that they are stuffed, but just mostly sated. This means their daily caloric intake is far lower than ours – around 1800 calories. We westerners sometimes scarf down twice that much in a day.
It happened to me almost every time in Okinawa to intake approx. 5,000 calories, while when I saw skinny Japanese women eating a very small portions and mainly lean dishes. I will list my menu in Okinawa later on, I did not gain much during these 8 days, but I was swimming at least an hour a day. I gained maybe 3 kilograms eating a lot of more than I should, but the type of food is much leaner, well maybe except of pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
We should simply eating less, even of the good stuff. Ikaria, Okinawa, Sardinia to an extent, and parts of Scandinavia, have all suffered from periods of food shortage and their traditional diets adapted to scarcity. Many now believe that reducing your daily calorific intake from 10% to as much as 40% below the western average can stall chronic diseases and boost immunity.
Okinawans don’t suffer from dementia or senility as often, either, due to a diet high in vitamin E which helps keep the brain vital. Elderly Okinawans are respected and kept as an integral aspect of their overall communities. Another factor in Okinawa is that people take care mutually of each other, forming more coherent and supportive links than in the western world. And above all, they have a positive attitude towards life. That explains the extremely low levels of stress experienced by these elders.They feel valued as individuals even as their age progresses and this can only benefit their mental and physiological health. Elderly members of this society express a high satisfaction level with their lives. The people take care mutually of each other, forming more coherent and supportive links than in the western world. And above all, they have a positive attitude towards life. That explains the extremely low levels of stress experienced by these elders.
Of course, there may be a genetic factor contributing to this vitality.
During the XXth century, 100,000 Okinawans migrated to Brazil, where they adopted the Brazilian diet, rich in meat. The result was that their average lifespan lowered with 17 years. When the Okinawan youth started to go to American Fast-Foods and Pizza Bars, which surround the American bases, the obesity levels, cardiovascular diseases and premature deaths of the young reached records in Japan.
Okinawa did not escape the trading trends: in the center of the island, there is now a big store with a big hanging poster “Okinawa, the world capital of the longevity” which offers the ingredients of the longevity: brown sugar “made of Okinawa cane”, kombu, tofu and other products, supposed to prolong your life. It isn’t just something in the water in Okinawa, but when Okinawans move away from their island and take up the western diet and lifestyle, they no longer enjoy longer lives. Within one generation of taking on our bad habits, their life-spans shorten considerably. Cancer and hear-attack rates practically double.
The oldest Japanese people were:
Misao Okawa (大川 ミサヲ Ōkawa Misao), sometimes romanized as Misawo Okawa; 5 March 1898 – 1 April 2015) was a Japanese supercentenarian who was the world’s oldest living person from the death of Japanese man Jiroemon Kimura on 12 June 2013 until her own death on 1 April 2015. Okawa is the verified oldest Japanese person ever, the oldest person ever born in Asia, and the fifth oldest verified person ever recorded. Okawa was the 30th person verified to have reached age 115, the tenth verified person to reach the age of 116 and the fifth verified person to reach the age of 117.
Okawa was born on 5 March 1898, the fourth daughter of a draper in the Tenma district (present-day Kita-ku) of Osaka. From 1997, she lived at a nursing home in Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka. She married Yukio Okawa in 1919 and had three children (two daughters and one son), of whom her son, Hiroshi, and daughter Shizuyo survived her.Her husband died on 20 June 1931. She had four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She was able to walk until she was 110, when she began using a wheelchair to prevent falls. She could, however, propel herself using her wheelchair. Okawa died at her nursing home residence in Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka, Japan, at 6:58 am, on 1 April 2015 after suffering heart failure.
Tane Ikai (猪飼 たね Ikai Tane, 18 January 1879 – 12 July 1995) was a Japanese supercentenarian who was, at her death, the oldest person ever from Japan and Asia. She was the first person from Japan verified to have reached the age of 115 and 116. Tane Ikai was born on 18 January 1879 in the village of Kansei, Aichi Prefecture (now part of Minato-ku, Nagoya). She was the third daughter of six children of a farming family. She married at age 20, had three sons and a daughter, and separated from her husband when she was 38 in 1917. She entered a nursing home at the age of 89 in 1968. In 1988, at the age of 109, she suffered a stroke and was moved to a hospital, where she remained bedridden for the rest of her life.
Ikai became Japan’s oldest person at the age of 113 in 1992 following the death of 114-year-old Waka Shirahama. She outlived all of her children and died on 12 July 1995, aged 116 years and 175 days. An autopsy indicated that she died of kidney failure.
I personally strongly believe in impact of diet to your health. I studied the commodity science and I was sensory and laboratory testing the food., I am aware of all bad and good habits that may contribute to your shorter or longer life, but I am just human being and do not always follow the rules. We need also to enjoy from time to time a bad food, drinks, but from time to time not permanently and every day. I am trying here to promote healthy life style not always following by myself, but still I am trying to remember every day not to turn into bad habit again, which I easily sponged where I lived in Texas US. I have an opportunity to live in Asia and travel visiting some countries and observe people and learn good life style manners. Just living in China for over 2 years and visiting Japan, I can tell you that the things Japanese as well Asian, people eat are a lot healthier than the things Americans tend to eat. It’s not just their diet in general, though. We can break it up into several parts. If you want to live a long time, avoid heart disease, and feel healthy, perhaps a Japanese style diet is for you. Overall, it’s just way healthier. Do not change completely your life style but at least try to apply some rules and give yourself a break from them once a week, but do not turn back on the bad path again.
Have a look at some habits that are easily to implement and pally daily:
Fish Vs. Red Meats:
Japanese people don’t eat nearly as much red meat. Red meat has a lot more cholesterol than fish, which causes you in your later years to have a much higher chance for heart disease, heart attack or/and stroke. In Japan, fish is the primary “meat” to eat, which means they keep their cholesterol lower, but they also get healthy fish oils. Now, there’s probably something to be said about the nasty stuff that can come with fish (i.e. mercury), but no matter what you eat you do not avoid unhealthy elements. We still should not eliminate in 100% red meat, here is why:
Red Meat has a bad reputation. Most people think of meat, especially red meat, as dangerously unhealthy. However, meat has unique properties that make it more nutritious, easier to digest, and less likely to irritate your body than vegetables.
Meat is made of animal muscle fibers, which come in two major types: fast and slow. Dark muscle fibers (“slow” fibers) are designed for endurance activities, whereas light muscle fibers (“quick” fibers) are designed for rapid bursts of activity. Therefore, dark muscle fibers have greater energy needs. For muscles to make energy, they need an energy source (fat), oxygen to burn the fat, and vitamins and minerals to run the reactions that release the energy from the fat. Therefore, dark meats usually contain more oxygen, more fat, and more vitamins and minerals than light/white meats. To hold the oxygen, dark (slow) muscle fibers need larger amounts of an oxygen carrier protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin is an iron- and oxygen-binding protein found in the muscle tissue of vertebrates in general and in almost all mammals. It is related to hemoglobin, which is the iron- and oxygen-binding protein in blood, specifically in the red blood cells. In humans, myoglobin is only found in the bloodstream after muscle injury. Myoglobin is red, which is why red meat is red. Myoglobin is rich in iron, the mineral that binds oxygen, so red meats contain more iron than white meats. Because most dark meats contain more fat than light meats, they can be higher in calories. However, because dark meats also contain more minerals and B vitamins, they are actually more nutritious than light meats.
This is why I would not advice to get read of meats at all. Actually Okinawans eat pork, but in controlled amount.
Less Milk, Butter, Dairy:
Most Japanese people are lactose intolerant. The adults should avoid drinking milk. Japanese people don’t really do dairy all that much, lactose intolerant or not, which means they avoid all the extra cholesterol. As beverages go, milk is relatively high in calories. One cup of 2% milk has 138 calories, for instance. Drinking three cups a day adds 366 calories to the diet, a lot for anyone watching their weigh. I am against low fat products do do not comment low fat or 0% fat milk as it gives you almost nothing in terms of nutrition. People who are lactose intolerant, of course, can’t easily drink milk. For them, and for people who don’t choose to drink milk, it is important to favor other sources of calcium. Examples include lactose-free dairy, and leafy green vegetables such as collards, spinach and bok choy, beans, and calcium-fortified orange juice or soy milk, and vegetables.
I personally prefer butter than other artificial type of bread margarine adds. Growing up in Europe is extremely difficult to get read of bread, but at least I try to select a good one or sometimes even bake by myself. I love German bread with butter and garlic or french baguette. If you do not add any ham or cheese which most probably is sold with preservatives you will provide a good amount of nutrition, however Asian people almost do not eat bread, nor butter, do not drink cow mild. They replaced it with rice steamed buns for breakfast and dumplings with some noodle soup[d (yes for breakfast) or miso soup, soy milk. In Asia eggs are very popular especially in China, Japanese they add raw eggs to soup and sometimes even rice dishes for breakfasts and lunch.
Rice is eaten with almost everything and is high in nutrients (there are special rice strains in Japan that have been created to have more nutrients than normal rice, even). It’s also low in fat and helps fill you up. Now, to make this even better (for yourself), you should try to mix in some brown rice as well. A lot of people don’t like this, but it’ll help you get some more whole grains. I usually mix different grains, rice with Quinoa, or other Buckwheat and even lentils. Recently I started to cook type of modified Polish ‘Krupnik’ is a thick Polish soup made from vegetable or meat broth, containing potatoes and barley groats. Common additional ingredients include different type of veggies (Polish word: ‘włoszczyzna’: carrot, leek, celery and parsley root), onion, meat, and dried mushrooms). Why this krupnik is modified, because original has mainly based on barley or millet, I add other types of grains too and mix them. I also add cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower as well other type of Chinese root vegitables. At the end I serve it with hard boiled egg. It is very healthy and making you full, you may cook it on chciekn bulion or natural chicken portions. If you do not want very fatty I add lean chicken breast.
Lots of Soy:
Tofu, bean sprouts, and so on are awesome for getting you proteins and help reduce heart disease and high blood pressure, a couple of things that kill a lot of Americans. Soy products are really healthy, and an awesome alternative to meats, milks, and other “unhealthy” things. Again remember to use organic soy beans. In Okinawa during lunch you could add fermented soy beans into your soup, did not look nice rather ugly, but definitely very healthy additive to your soup.
Japanese people drink a ton of tea. Americans drink a ton of coffee. While there’s something to be said in regards to “everything in moderation,” I feel like one cup of tea is going to be better for you than one cup of coffee, especially when we’re talking larger amounts. Green / Oolong Tea is full of antioxidants (good for fighting that cancer thing), and apparently helps break up oils in the digestive system, keeping those bowels happy. However while China may be known for its tea consumption, the Japanese are more into coffee (compare to China not Europe). They are responsible for the importing and consuming of about 85% of Jamaica’s coffee production.
It’s full of iodine and other nutrients you don’t get as much of anywhere else. So incredibly healthy. Also supposed to help fight against many kinds of cancers, too.
Vegetables tend to be a big part of every meal. Everyone knows that vegetables are healthy and good for you. On top of the healthy benefits they make you full faster without eating other type of high calories food: carbohydrates in form of french fries or bread. Actually if no American influence Asian would not eat french fries nor bread. Most of the bakeries are franchised American or European brand like: Bread-talk, or Bastian Bakery or La Baguette Parisienne.
If you’re looking to lose weight, get rid of your big plates. Small plates cause people to eat smaller portions, which causes people to eat less. There is a surprising correlation between the plate size and how much one eat. Japanese tend to serve food on smaller plates which means they don’t overeat and get fat, which, of course, reduces chance of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and other ailments. Japanese people eat a third of the calories Americans eat. Now, Japanese people do tend to be smaller, so this kind of makes sense, but on the other hand Americans tend to eat too many calories. Next time you do fast food, look at the calorie counts. It can get pretty ridiculous, sometimes.
For reliable dietary advice, look to the food pyramid. I agree that this should be the best guidance, you can also observe your body demand certain type of foods in case you apply long term one type of diet. If you eat too much protein your body starves for carbohydrates and veggies. IF you eat only fruits and veggies your body demand meats and other type of proteins. It is good idea to allow your body to steer of what actually you needs as nutrition. Unfortunately most of people lost that ability due to every day overeating and intake much more than your body needs. When you overeat your stomach capacity increases and demand more food. You do not feel full when eating fats foods and warmed in microwave dishes. If you eat less processed meals & food you provide more reinforcements and you feel satisfied after smaller amount of food. Starving does not help at all when you jump to the fridge you will eating everything you find in there.
What You Can Do: Eating healthier is not laways easy especially when we are busy at work. We get used to what we eat, and making a shift is hard. One of the best things you can do, though, is decrease the amount of red meats you eat. They lead to all kinds of problems later on, and it’s pretty easy to avoid. You don’t have to stop eating red meat all together, but if you can really decrease the amount your body will thank you. Also, for all you addicted coffee drinkers out there, switch to tea. There’s a reason why older people are being forced (by doctors) to quit drinking so much coffee. Tea also has caffeine and is generally just a lot healthier. Try Japanese green tea.
I am advising, promoting, encouraging, but believe me I was eating almost everything during my holidays, and I really think from time to time you should enjoy desert, wine, or local specialties like sake or …
About local specialties, my husband wanted very much to try Fugu. He got known about it from one of the series of “Columbo”, where the murder was done thru serving the Japanese fish Fugu. My husband wanted very much to try it, fortunately he was not able to find a restaurant in proximity to hotel. Our dauther was pretty scarred that he may get poison. Well the probability is low however exist. Here is why and a bit more about this unusual fish.
Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish and the dish prepared from it, normally species of genus Takifugu, Lagocephalus, or Sphoeroides, or porcupinefish of the genus Diodon. Fugu can be lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin; therefore, it must be carefully prepared to remove toxic parts and to avoid contaminating the meat.
The restaurant preparation of fugu is strictly controlled by law in Japan and several other countries, and only chefs who have qualified after three or more years of rigorous training are allowed to prepare the fish. Domestic preparation occasionally leads to accidental death.Even knowing that still I was not convinced to have it tried.
Fugu is served as sashimi and chirinabe. Some consider the liver the tastiest part, but it is also the most poisonous, and serving this organ in restaurants was banned in Japan in 1984. Fugu has become one of the most celebrated and notorious dishes in Japanese cuisine.
Fugu contains lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin in its organs, especially the liver, the ovaries, and the eyes, whereas skin is usually non-poisonous. The poison, a sodium channel blocker, paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious. The victim is unable to breathe, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. Fugu poison is 1200 times stronger than cyanide and there is no known antidote. The standard treatment is to support the respiratory and circulatory systems until the poison is metabolized and excreted by the victim’s body.
Advances in research and aquaculture have allowed some farmers to mass-produce safe fugu. Researchers surmised that fugu’s tetrodotoxin came from eating other animals that held tetrodotoxin-laden bacteria, and that the fish develops immunity over time. Many farmers now produce ‘poison-free’ fugu by keeping the fugu away from the bacteria. Usuki, a town in Ōita Prefecture, has become known for selling non-poisonous fugu.
The inhabitants of Japan have eaten fugu for centuries. Fugu bones have been found in several shell middens, called kaizuka, from the Jōmon period that date back more than 2,300 years. The Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868) prohibited the consumption of fugu in Edo and its area of influence. It became common again as the power of the shogunate weakened. In western regions of Japan, where the government’s influence was weaker and fugu was easier to get, various cooking methods were developed to safely eat them. During the Meiji Era (1867–1912), fugu was again banned in many areas. Fugu is the only food the Emperor of Japan is forbidden to eat, for his safety. Fugu was also eaten in China, where its name was mentioned in the literature as early as circa 400BC. Fugu comes as the first in the three most delicious fish from the Yangtze river.
The torafugu, or tiger blowfish (Takifugu rubripes), is the most prestigious edible species and the most poisonous. Other species are also eaten; for example, Higanfugu (T. pardalis), Shōsaifugu (T. vermicularis syn. snyderi), and Mafugu (T. porphyreus). The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan provides a list that shows which species’ body parts can be consumed. The list names safe genera including pufferfish of the Lagocephalus and Sphoeroides genera and the related porcupinefish (Harisenbon) of the genus Diodon.
Official fugu preparation license.: Strict fishing regulations are now in place to protect fugu populations from depletion. Most fugu are now harvested in the spring during the spawning season and then farmed in floating cages in the Pacific Ocean. The largest wholesale fugu market in Japan is in Shimonoseki.
Fugu prices rise in autumn and peak in winter, the best season, because they fatten to survive the cold. Live fish arrive at a restaurant, surviving in a large tank, usually prominently displayed. Prepared fugu is also often available in grocery stores, which must display official license documents.
Since 1958 fugu chefs must earn a license to prepare and sell fugu to the public. This involves a two- or three-year apprenticeship. The licensing examination process consists of a written test, a fish-identification test, and a practical test, preparing and eating the fish. Only about 35 percent of the applicants pass. Small miscalculations result in failure or, in rare cases, death. Consumers believe that this training process makes it safer to eat fugu in restaurants or markets. Also, commercially available fugu is sometimes grown in environments in which it grows to be less toxic.
Since October 2012 restaurants in Japan have been permitted to sell fugu which has been prepared and packaged by a licensed practitioner elsewhere.
A dish of fugu typically costs between ¥2,000 (approx. US$20) and ¥5,000 (approx. US$50); a full-course fugu meal (usually eight servings) can cost ¥10,000–20,000 (approx. US$100–200). The expense encourages chefs to slice the fish very carefully to obtain the largest possible amount of meat. The special knife, called fugu hiki, is usually stored separately from other knives.
Sashimi—The most popular dish is fugu sashimi, also called Fugu sashi or tessa. Knives with exceptionally thin blades are used for cutting fugu into translucent slices, a technique known as Usuzukuri.
Milt—The soft roe (Shirako) of the blowfish is a highly prized food item in Japan. It is often found in department stores; and, along with cod milt, it is one of the most popular kinds of soft roe. It is often grilled and served with salt.
Fried—Fugu can be eaten deep fried as Fugu Kara-age.
Baked—The fins of the fish are dried out completely, baked, and served in hot sake, a dish called Hire-zake.
Stew—Vegetables and fugu can be simmered as Fugu-chiri, also called tetchiri, in which case the fish’s very light taste is hard to distinguish from the vegetables and the dip.
Salad—If the spikes in the skin are pulled out, the skin can be eaten as part of a salad called yubiki.
Ovary —The ovary of the pufferfish contains greater amounts of the lethal poison tetrodotoxin than other parts of the body. However, in Hakusan, Ishikawa, the toxin has been eliminated in some local cuisine (“Blowfish Ovaries Pickled in Rice-Bran Paste”) via preservation in salt and pickling in rice-bran paste. The toxin-free fugu is examined and shipped through the toxic inspection sector of an inspection agency after being treated for further examination
Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin that shuts down electrical signaling in nerves by binding to the pores of sodium channel proteins in nerve cell membranes. Tetrodotoxin is not affected by cooking. It does not cross the blood–brain barrier, leaving the victim fully conscious while paralyzing the muscles. In animal studies with mice, the median lethal dose was found to be 8 μg tetrodotoxin per kg body weight. The pufferfish itself is not susceptible to the poison because of a mutation in the protein sequence of its cells’ sodium channel.
As previously mentioned, commercially available fugu in supermarkets or restaurants is very safe, and poisoning is very rare. Most deaths from fugu occur when untrained people catch and prepare the fish. In some cases, they eat the highly poisonous liver as a delicacy.
It has been shown that tetrodotoxin is produced by certain bacteria—such as Pseudoalteromonas tetraodonis, certain species of Pseudomonas and Vibrio, as well as others—and that these are the source of the toxin in pufferfish.
The symptoms from ingesting a lethal dose of tetrodotoxin may include dizziness, exhaustion, headache, nausea, or difficulty breathing. The victim remains conscious but cannot speak or move. Breathing stops and asphyxiation follows.
There is no known antidote, and treatment consists of emptying the stomach, feeding the victim activated charcoal to bind the toxin, and putting the victim on life support until the poison has worn off. Japanese toxicologists in several medical research centers have been working on developing an antidote for tetrodotoxin.
Statistics from the Tokyo Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health indicate 20 to 44 incidents, some affecting multiple diners, of fugu poisoning per year between 1996 and 2006 in Japan. Between 34 and 64 victims were hospitalized, and zero to six died, per year, with an average fatality rate of 6.8%. Of the 23 incidents reported in Tokyo from 1993 through 2006, only one took place in a restaurant; all others involved people catching and eating the fish. Poisonings through amateur preparation can result from confusion between types of puffer, as well as improper methods, and some may represent deliberate suicide attempts. Engelbert Kaempfer, a German physician who resided in Japan in the 1690s, reported that an unusually toxic variety of puffer was sometimes sought out by individuals who wished to take their own lives.
Much higher figures were reported in earlier years, peaking in 1958 when 176 people died. According to the Fugu Research Institute 50% of the victims were poisoned by eating the liver, 43% from eating the ovaries, and 7% from eating the skin. One of the most famous victims was the Kabuki actor and “Living National Treasure” Bandō Mitsugorō VIII, who in 1975 died after eating four servings of fugu kimo (fugu liver), the sale of which was prohibited by local ordinances at the time. Bandō claimed to be able to resist the poison, but died several hours after returning to his hotel
On August 23, 2007, a doctor in Thailand reported that unscrupulous fish sellers sold puffer meat disguised as salmon, which caused fifteen deaths over three years. About 115 people were taken to different hospitals. Fugu had been banned in Thailand five years prior to the deaths.
In March 2008 a fisherman in the Philippines died and members of his family became ill from pufferfish. The previous year, four people in the same town died and five others had fallen ill after eating the same variety of pufferfish.
In February 2009 a Malaysian fisherman died and four others were hospitalised after they consumed a meal of puffer fish when they ran out of food while at sea.
In November 2011 a two-Michelin star chef was suspended from his post at “Fugu Fukuji” restaurant in Tokyo. The chef served fugu liver to a customer who, despite being warned of the risks, specifically asked that it be provided. The 35-year-old customer subsequently required hospital treatment for mild symptoms of tetrodotoxin paralysis, but made a full recovery.Five men were poisoned at a restaurant in Wakayama in March 2015 after specifically asking for liver.
Most Japanese cities have one or more fugu restaurants. They may cluster, because of earlier restrictions, as proximity made it easier to ensure freshness. A famous restaurant specializing in fugu is Takefuku, in the Ginza district in Tokyo. Zuboraya is another popular chain in Osaka.
In South Korea, fugu is known as bok-eo. It is very popular in port cities such as Busan and Incheon. It is prepared in a number of dishes such as soups and salads, and commands a high price.
In 2003 only seventeen restaurants in the United States were licensed to serve fugu; twelve of those were in New York. Since that year, some other American restaurants offer fugu.
I am glad finally we could not find fugu close by, even thou the poisonous cases from the licensed restaurant are rare, how can you verify the license? Anyway I guess we had much more adventures rather than trying fugu, I am pretty sure my husband was very disappointed not trying itas before flying to Japan he was talking about fugu for a weeks.
Instead of fugu me and my daughter we were fishing from the boat. Superior experience, second day we tried fishing small fishes but later we decided to go and fish from the boat.
Two Japanese guys were taking us to teh sea, we were only 2 on the boat, as none of the otehr guests signed up. The guide took our names and wrote it down in Japanese on his hand.
Here you can have a look, Joanna is first and second Dominika.
On the beginning I was kind of surprise the way how you fish, basically you load a banch of very little shrimps and you may catch the fish to one of the few little hook.
I was not expecting that we pull so many fishes within 3 hours.
Many of them were too little and we had to release them, but some were pretty significant. I had a problem to pull them out not mentioning my little daughter was struggling too. We had a lot of fun by the way.
I grew up in the family where fishing was one of the hobby and entertainment. MY father loved fishing and when I was at age of my daughter I enjoyed fishing with him. Dominika first time experienced fishing with her grandpa when she was 2 years old.
Later we were fishing in the gulf of Mexico, when we lived in Texas, since that time we had no chance to fish as in Maldives fishing has been cancelled due to weather condition. This time we had enought time to enjoy.
We caught so many good fishes, nice size for sushi, the guy was able to prepare them right on the boat, so it was first in my life that I could try fish that I caught, and it was freshly preapred on the boat and served as sashimi. My dauther managed to pull kind of smaller tuna familly, it was so tasty.
In general my daughter does not eat sashimi, some sushi, but does not like very much raw fish. Here she tried the one she pulled and she told me it was very tasty. First piece she tried without soy souce and a second one she used with soy sauce.
I have to be honest, I have never eaten so fresh sashimi and for sure not from the fishes that I was catching by myself.
We came back to hotel happy and I cannot say full as such fish does not provide much calories (33 calories, 1g fat per piece), but not hungry.
Before going for holiday I told myself that I am going to eat very lean food in Okinawa a lot of fish and very little carbohydrates and no sweets. Basically my plan was great, after coming to hotel, we discovered that in the price we have breakfast and lunch included, both buffet styles. Actually we could pick for the breakfast one of the 2 restaurants:
– SAILFISH CAFE
– French & Teppanyaki, FOUR SEASONS
The above picture shows the view from four season restaurant.
My daughter and my husband preferred Four Season as there were pancakes and omelets, I liked better Sailfish Cafe, where I could find teh combination of different Asian cuisine.
No matter where we were eating breakfast, I realized liosting number and type of dishes that apparently I could eat much less, here is exmaple of the breakfast actually from Four Season restaurant:
– Black coffee
– Salad with bitter melon (Goya) dressing
– 3 cups of fresh grapefruit juice and 1 fresh orange juice
– Baked vegetables with herbs
– Omelet with tomato sauce
– Benedict egg
– Pancake with blueberries and whip cream and chocolate sauce
– Green Tea pancake with raspberries and whip cream and chocolate sauce
My diet plan screwed up, I am not big fun of pancakes but the adds were amazing, like raspberries, strawberries, chocolate and ice-cream or whipped cream.
For lunch we used to try a variety of dishes from buffet from SAILFISH CAFE. My few favourite were:
Both you could preapre by yor own chocie in a Asian way.
– we all loved grilled chicken, with real taste of chicken
– salmon roulade cake with moosee
– shrimp in anion sauce
– fish in tomato sauce
– goya chanpuru
– grilled pork
I even do not remember how many dishes have been served and what I was eating but definitely too much, the outcome of it was in few kg more, which I am trying to loose now.
Anyway I do not think you should take away pleasure of tasting different kind of food when being on vacation, but after coming back you need to make more efforts to loose it, no doubt.
Other restaurants we have tried were ok, for the price could be better. The most favorite one of my daughter was CORAL SEA VIEW (Bra-Deli & Barbecue):
This one was very special because you could select your own choices of the meats, fish., seafood and grill by your own when sitting in a table the way you actually wanted. The idea of the restaurant was great and we really enjoyed it.
The restaurant also served non alcoholic bear just for kids
The set you have chosen either could have more meat or more fish and seafood. The restaurant was serving the German bear due to the time we were there -October Fest Celebration.
Here is a photo how it looked grilling your own meat in a a kind of grilled build into the table, also very social way allowing gathering and eating at the same time.
The other restaurant we have tried was Steak & Lobster Grill, ANVIL HOUSE.
It seemed to be very exclusive offering the Lobster but I have ordered my favorite Oysters on the shell first:
and as a main course the lobster:
Let us move on to the next restaurant we have tried. The Japanese Cuisine, IRODORI.
It was very nice Japanese style restaurant.
The food was ok. Now it is easier for me to evaluate after trying real local Okinawa restaurant, not only hotel one, but the local one I describe the last as for me was the best in terms of price and quality, and we were there twice.
The Japanese IRODORI served mainly the Japanese type of dishes.
The Okinawa Tofu was really excellent.
I have ordered grilled fish, in teh menu there was a mistake as grilled fish was under the boiled dishes.
I have not paid attention to it and the waiter brought me boiled instaed of grilled fish.
At the end the service was good as they exchanged to the grilled fish as they had a mistake in the menu with English translation. Overall impression was good, unfortunately the food comparable to the local restaurant was just so so. The main problem was that the grilled fish was gummy, while in the local restaurant was so delicious.
Our Polish friends from Shanghai, only stayed with us first 3 days, so we managed to try other 2 restaurants with them.
With our Polish friends we tried the Sushi Bar and once local restaurant in Yamada.
The sushi bar was ok, very fresh fish and sushi. Our kids ordered grilled salmon, which is not very common for the sushi restaurant to serve but the service was so kind that actually they have decided to grill salmon for them.
WE were eating mainly sushi, salads, soup and tempura.
The best food really tasty was in the local restaurant. It was found by our friend Mike, who did the great pick.
The Grilled Octopus ordered by my husband. I do ot like them so much at least the way of preparation in Asia makes them chewy.
Here I ordered tempura vegetables with seafood and fish. Normally I do not order deep fried, but per my opinion tempura is a bit differently fried, taste much lighter. Traditional Japanese cooking is much simpler than that of the Western world. It is an uncomplicated way of cooking; one that emphasizes the natural taste of foods fresh from land or sea.
Tempura is a classic example of this cuisine and is relished worldwide in the form of lightly battered and fried pieces of seafood or vegetables. Although tempura did not originate in Japan, having been brought to the island nation by Portuguese missionaries, it is the Japanese who have perfected it and elevated it to an art form. The key to great tempura lies in the ingredients and proper technique. Always use high-quality fresh ingredients whose natural flavors will be only slightly accented by cooking. Maintaining the correct heat is crucial in order to produce a golden, crispy morsel with a distinct snap and bite. Oil temperature will vary depending on what you are cooking and the size of the ingredients, but a good all-purpose temperature is between 375 and 390 degrees. Tempura chefs are said to fry by sound rather than sight, listening for the point at which the water has been cooked out of the batter and the ingredients. For home chefs, fry 1-3 minutes until the coating is slightly golden. A lacy, golden-fried coating rests in the preparation of the batter. Make just before frying. Allowing batter to stand will cause it to be heavy and lose its delicacy. Mix batter only slightly, leaving lumps and a floury ring in your bowl, to achieve the gossamer web of crust that defines good tempura. Master tempura chefs can tell the difference between the work of a five-year apprentice and a 20-year veteran, so delicate and intricate are the processes at work. These recipes are uncomplicated and straightforward but may require practice.
The difference is definitely in the oil /butter, you feel it is freshly made not several times used. The outcome is also light and fresh not heave at all.
We also ordered something with taste similar to POlsih dish but it was kind of rice soup.
Overall the fish was so tasty and delicious, all kinds we tried, grilled, boiled, fired, and with sauce. All of them were excellent. It reminded me the fishes in Poland where we had holidays on sea side: Kolobrzeg, Mielno and otehr places, but made to perfections.
The grilled fish was very salty.
The style of the restaurant was with the big kind of Lobster and Crabs displayed on the walls.
After trying food in this local restaurant, the name is:
Oki Seafood Restaurant
we had tried real testy Okinawa dishes and the hotel ones were incomparable. Price wise we have paid for 7 people, JPY 25K, but we ordered much more than we could consume. IN the hotel for a dinner for juts 3 people you have to pay this much.
Overall hotel offered a lot of attraction like all kind of water sports, snorkeling, diving, banana, pedal, fast boats, big mable, jet ski, Kayaks, Haryu Boat Cruise, Big Wheel, Yacht Sailing, Coral Adventure Cruise, The black Shark Sunset Cruise, Fishing, Whale Watching Tour, some of them were really seasonal.
The dolphins were very close just belonged to hotel, and many other animals like turtles, kangaroos, goats.
You could take a kid and go and feed them for the little ones was for free for older children you had to pay.
If you plan vacation with kids this is the perfect place to spend holiday, kid will not be bored and will have a lot of activities. The only problem most of them are not for free and you need to pay extra.
It would not be me if I did not try the horse riding.
we were twice, first time on the beach, the second time just on the paddock /the horse arena.
On the beach Dominika’s pony was laying into the sea and she had to jump off, later the pony was running so fast as he did not want to stay alone on the beach, but she still wanted to go the very next day to ride on the same pony even thou was kind of out of control. The owner gave her another pony which was easier to ride on. She was really happy of being able to horse ride, as well me.
The signature of Okinawa are the lion/dogs:
Komainu (狛犬?), often called lion-dogs in English, are statue pairs of lion-like creatures either guarding the entrance or the inner shrine of many Japanese Shinto shrines or kept inside the inner shrine itself, where they are not visible to the public. The first type, born during the Edo period, is called sandō komainu, the second and much older type jinnai komainu. They can sometimes be found also at Buddhist temples, nobility residences or even private homes.
Shisa (Okinawan: shiisaa) is a traditional Ryukyuan decoration, often in pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog, from Okinawan mythology. People place pairs of shisa on their rooftops or flanking the gates to their houses. Shisa are wards, believed to protect from some evils. When in pairs, the left shisa traditionally has a closed mouth, the right one an open mouth. The open mouth wards off evil spirits, and the closed mouth keeps good spirits in.
From the Edo period, they started to be called “guardian dogs” in general in mainland Japan. Gender is variously assigned to the shisa. Some Okinawans believe the male has his mouth closed to keep bad out of the home, while the female has her mouth open to share goodness. Others believe the female has her mouth closed to “keep in the good”, while the male has his mouth open to “scare away the bad”
Like the komainu (“lion dogs”), the shisa are a variation of the guardian lions (“fu dogs”) from China. The shisaa, or lion dog, is an Okinawan cultural artifact. In magic typology, they might also be classified as gargoyle beasts. They are traditionally used to ward off evil spirits.
Japanese culture is very interesting, especially to Western observers, many of whom immediately think of sushi, sumo wrestling, and samurai when they think of Japan. While these three things are very much part of Japanese culture and history, they only scratch the surface of this country and its people. At first glance, Japan appears to be a land of conflict, embracing its ancient past, while at the same time spearheading almost frighteningly futuristic technology, and the simple sushi dishes that help define the culinary landscape and history are served next to groundbreaking molecular gastronomy delights.
Roughly the size of California, this interesting country, as well as its 130 million inhabitants, refuses to lose its cultural identity among the din of smart phones and bullet trains. Today I wanted to highlight some interesting tidbits about the culture of Japan that I either read about or have seen or heard.
The literacy rate (people who can read and write) of Japan is one of the highest in the world, at almost 100%. Many think that Japan’s rigorous education system is the reason behind it. Japan’s unemployment rate is less than 4%.
Speaking of reading and writing, there are four different writing systems found in Japan: romaji (Romanized spelling used to translate Japanese), katakana (foreign words and names, loanwords, and scientific names), hiragana (used with kanji for native Japanese words and grammar), and kanji (adopted Chinese characters).
Japan’s national sport is sumo. Dating back to at least the 8th century, sumo began as a prayer for a fruitful rice harvest, then evolved into a public sport in which two men fight in a circular ring, with one winning when the other was either knocked out of the ring, or any part of his body besides the bottom of his feet touched the ground. Sumo is a living Japanese tradition, containing ancient customs and dress.
Sumo may be the national sport, but baseball is also incredibly popular. Introduced to Japan in the 1870’s, the sport has evolved to be much like its American counterpart, with only slight differences existing in the size of the actual ball, the strike zone, and the playing field.
Though only popular in the United States for just a few decades, sushi, which may be Japan’s biggest cultural export, has been around for much longer, at least since the 8th century. What started off as a way for fish to be preserved in fermented rice evolved into the culinary delight we know and love today. The most popular fish for sushi in Japan include salmon, red tuna, and medium-fatty tuna. The most expensive sushi in Japan can be found at a restaurant in the capital, Tokyo, called Sukiyabashi Hiro, where a 15-minute meal will run you about $300-500.
Also popular in Japan is horse meat. The most popular way to serve it is raw and sliced thinly, which is called basashi, where it’s dipped in soy sauce and eaten with ginger. For the brave eaters out there, there is also a basashi flavored ice cream, which, unsurprisingly, is limited in popularity. I love horses so I would never try horse meat as for me it is like kind of cannibalism.
Here in the U.S., slurping your food, such as a soup, or noodles, is seen as annoying, and you’ll get weird looks. But in Japan, if you slurp, it’s seen as complimentary to the chef, so slurp away if you find yourself enjoying soup in Japan. Actually it is very common in China and it is very annoying to me, I find difficult to sit with others and listening this sound, even knowing it is a cultural thing. However in the hotel like I stayed people are more sensitive to other nations and the different culture so they pretend doing things that may not be well perceived by foreigners.
Important to know if you go to Japan, while slurping your soup is seen as a compliment, blowing your nose in public is frowned upon.
Taking your shoes off in Japan is a widely practiced custom, but may confuse foreign visitors. If when you enter a home, and the floor is raised about six inches, that’s an indication that you should take off your shoes and put on slippers. If the house has a floor that is covered with tatami mat, and raised only one to two inches, that indicates that you should take off your slippers. There are also special toilet slippers that must be used when going to the restroom, then removed when finished.
The concept of losing face, or being embarrassed, is a very important concept in Japan. Someone may lose face if they are insulted, criticized, or otherwise put on the spot, and only through praise and thanks can honor be regained.
Non-verbal communication is a big social indicator in Japan, and colors most conversations in both positive and negative ways. The Japanese believe that context affects the tone of a conversation, and they notice any changes in a person’s tone, posture, or facial expression. Because words can have more than one meaning, they look to a person’s physical reactions to find the real meaning of their words, which is why many Japanese speak with a non-expressive look, so that any facial tics or movements don’t send the wrong message.
Containing the highest proportion of elderly people in the world, about 23% of Japanese people are over the age of 65. Older people are revered and honored in Japan, even being the first to be served food and drinks at a meal.
There are many subtleties involved in meeting someone for the first time in Japan. One usually waits to be introduced, as it’s seen as impolite to introduce yourself. For foreigners, it’s acceptable to simply shake hands upon meeting, but the traditional form of greeting is a bow, with how far you bow being relative to the respect shown to the recipient.
As you would expect, table manners are many and stringent in Japan. Always wait to be told where to sit, and remember that the guest of honor, or the eldest guest, is usually seated at the center. Chopstick use is important and comes with its own set of rules. Never point with them, never pierce your food with them, and lay them on the chopstick rest when chewing, making sure not to cross them. Eat a little bit of everything, and make sure to not mix rice with other food, like many Westerners do – try some of the food, then the rice.
Even though it seems like a strict country, Japanese people understand that foreigners may not know about their cultural nuances, and are very understanding of any faux pas that might occur, as long as the offender is respectful. They will also usually feel a bit embarrassed with their English skills
Located in Tokyo is the Tsukiji Fish Market, which is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. There is an “inner” and “outer” market, with the inner market auctioning off seafood wholesale, and the outer market having wholesale and retail shops, selling kitchen tools, supplies, seafood, and sushi Japan has the second lowest homicide rate in the world, behind only Iceland. The homicide rate there is .50 per 100,000 people. Japan has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners, coming from the worlds of chemistry, medicine, and physics. Anime is huge in Japan, and their animated output, both for films and television, accounts for about 60% of the world’s animation. There are also around 130 schools for anime voice acting in the country.
Finally some strange things about Japan or in Japan.
The world’s shortest escalator
The world’s shortest escalator is located in the basement of More’s Department store in Kawasaki, Japan. It has only five steps and is 32.8 inches high.
Island of the gas masks
Found in the Izu islands of Japan, Miyake-jima’s most prominent feature is its active volcano, Mount Oyama, which has erupted several times in recent history. Since the most recent explosion, in 2005, the volcano has constantly leaked poisonous gas, requiring residents to carry a gas mask at all times. Sirens go off across the island when the levels of sulphur rise sharply.
On receipt of a gift, it is traditional custom to hesitate to open the gift until invited to do so. In the past the Japanese haven’t opened gifts in the presence of the gift giver. It is important to open the gift carefully as ripping the paper is considered rude.
At first glance, most Japaense vending machines aren’t much different to those found in Europe. It is their location and contents that are remarkable. You can expect to find them next to ancient temples and even at the summit of Mount Fuji, with a wide selection of goods ranging from eggs to underwear. 6. Japan is crazy about vending machines, which offers customers a multitude of convenient buys, including beer, Pringles, raw eggs, fried chicken, and even entire Smart Cars. In addition to their unusual vending machines, there are cafes that cater to very specific desires. There are ones in which customers pay to play with puppies and kittens, and there are also “cuddle cafes” in which people pay to take a nap with a stranger.
The ‘cuddle cafe’
The first Soine-ya (which means “sleep together shop”) opened last year in Tokyo, allowing male customers to sleep next to a girl for a fee. Sexual requests are not allowed, it insists. Instead the men can purchase extras such as “staring at each other for a minute” (¥1,000) and “stroking the girl’s hair for three minutes” (¥1,000).
Other unusual establishments are numerous. In an interview with Telegraph Travel, Stacey Dooley, the television presenter, recalled a trip to a Tokyo cafe “where the waitresses, who were dressed like maids, ran around singing and serving ice cream. It sounded sinister but it was all very innocent. There was another place where you could pay to have a cat sit on your lap. Your expectation is quite high when you go there because you think something is going to happen. But then you discover that the cat just sits there while you have a cup of tea.”
KFC on Christmas Eve
Japan’s culinary identity is that of as a health-conscious, sushi-loving nation, but the bread-crumbed chicken has long been a favorite in the country at this time of year.
Although Japan doesn’t traditionally celebrate Christmas, KFC outlets became popular among foreigners as they couldn’t find a whole chicken or turkey elsewhere during the festive season.
The fast-food chain followed up this trend with a highly successful marketing campaign in the 1970s. Now, it suggests customers in the country should place orders up to two months in advance to meet demand.
The ghost island
Found around 15km from Nagasaki, Hashima was used as a coal mining facility between 1887 and 1974, with its population reaching a peak of 5,259 people in 1959. After petroleum replaced coal throughout Japan in the 1960s, Hashima was abandoned, and is now known as “Ghost Island”. A small portion of the island was reopened to tourists in 2009, and sightseeing boat trips often stop here.
Okunoshima is a small island located in Japan’s Inland Sea, that has become something of a tourist attraction due to its floppy eared population. Sources claim they were brought here during the Second World War, when the island (and the rabbits) were used to test the effects of poison gas. They have since flourished in the predator-free environment, and there are hundreds roaming free.
Hiding your thumbs
It is a widespread Japanese superstition that if a funeral hearse drives past, you must hide your thumb in a fist. ‘Thumb,’ translate directly into ‘parent-finger,’ and hiding it is considered protection for your parents.
In Britain, falling asleep in the office is likely to earn you a ticking off from your boss, or worse. But Japanese business culture recognizes the employee who works so hard they are forced to engage in “inemuri” – or napping on the job. Rules do apply – you must remain upright, for example – while some people even fake inemuri, to make their bosses believe they are working harder than they really are.
This is a surprisingly popular Japanese restaurant that only serves canned food. Instead of providing a menu, those who dine there have the opportunity to select their meal from the shelves that adorn the walls and are supplied plastic cutlery to enjoy the contents of their can.
Ganguro, which literally translates as ‘blackface,’ is a fashion which sees girls take tanning to a new extreme. Every week they dye their skin as dark as possible and then apply huge amounts of foundation. Black ink for eyeliner, platform shoes and bleached hair completes this extremely curious fashion trend.
Hadaka Matsuri is a bizarre festival involving thousands of Japanese men removing their clothes in public due to the ancient belief that a naked man has a greater ability to absorb evil spirits. Only the most intimate parts of the body are covered, using a ‘fundoshi’
Japan is a country renowned for its extremely polite mannerisms. However, one custom challenges the Western understanding of being refined. When eating noodles, slurping is essential to communicate the enjoyment of the meal. Gratitude is shown through the magnitude of the noise made during consumption
Unlike the majority of the world, the youth of Japan are spending considerable sums of money on attaining uneven or “snaggle” teeth. It is known as “yaeba”, which translates as “double tooth,” and is one of the country’s most recent odd fashion trends
These short-stay hotels, designed for amorous couples, have proven increasingly popular in Japan, where space, and therefore privacy, are at a premium. An estimated two per cent of Japan’s population visit one each day.
Love hotels can usually be identified by the offer of two different room rates: a “rest”, as well as an overnight stay. The name, and the presence of heart symbols, is also a giveaway. They are usually found close to train stations, near highways, or in industrial districts.
While the cheapest love hotels will be pretty basic, high-end establishments may offer extravagantly decorated rooms, often with bizarre themes and costumes for hire. The rooms sometimes feature rotating beds, ceiling mirrors, karaoke machines and neon lighting
The suicide forest
Aokigahara, Aokigahara (青木ヶ原?), also known as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees ), is a 35-square-kilometre (14 sq mi) forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest at the base of Mount Fuji, is like something out of The Blair Witch Project. It has an historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, and is the second most popular place in the world for suicides, after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. More than 50 people took their own lives here in 2010 alone, and an annual body hunt is undertaken by volunteers. The forest is also noted for its quietness, thanks to the wind-blocking density of the trees. Hikers are advised to use plastic tape to mark their route and avoid getting lost. . The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations. Aokigahara forest is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself.
A sign at the head of the main trail urges suicidal visitors to think of their families and contact a suicide prevention associatio
The capsule hotel
The capsule hotel originated in Osaka, Japan. It features a set of extremely small capsules designed for basic overnight accommodation for those on a budget. Capsules are stacked side by side with one unit on top of another to maximise space.
Most toilets in Japan have a built-in bidet system for spraying your backside. These are known as washlets and are now the norm in homes and nicer restrooms. However, in some train stations and other public restrooms you may still find the traditional Japanese “floor toilet”. I personally find these toilets as very convenient I would install one in my house. I may not understand why to change slipper whne using restroom, but Japanese seemed top be very carefull reg. hygenic, on teh airport you see all staff using protection masks.
Another 2 kind of weird or strange things we found in Okinawa were:
1. Kind of an night school, really night after 10pm, we were coming back from the restaurant, and you would expect your kid to be in bed to be fresh for next day school. we went to palce as kidn of post office to order a taxi, and we saw raw of cartoon wooden boxes where older kids were teaching younger ones.
I could not resist to make a photo of it:
2. We have decided to walk back from Oki Seafood Restaurant to burn amount of food we have eaten. One friend took our kids, as it was way too far to the hotel. GPS was showing aprpox. 2h. On the way we saw another strange thing, Jurasic Park, we thought it will be something for kids, but apparently it was something for older kids, to play kind of mimi casino machines. Maybe we were not bale to enter and check further since at that time only that portion of business was open.
3. I was kind of threaten of the motorcyclist and how dfast they were cycling. The sounds of engine was so loud so you could hear from far away. It was plently of motors going back and forth thru the island. Okinawa became off-limits to the bosozoku, the noisy gangs on mo-peds, motorcycles and muscle cars who pierce the night with the cacophonous roar of loud mufflers and hair-raising races down public roads. So far, anti-bosozoku police tactics, such as setting up checkpoints at popular rally sites and videotaping gangs’ antics from unmarked police cars, have cut into the ranks of the youthful groups. Many of the members, usually in their midteens, have been swept off the streets and slapped with heavy fines and jail terms for violating traffic laws. Bosozoku is Japanese for “roaring kids.” The Japanese biker-kid gatherings were first noticed in the mid-1950s in Tokyo and Osaka, when hundreds held mass rallies, choosing as their model the anarchy of the Hell’s Angels and Marlon Brando’s antihero in the movie “The Wild Ones.” Today, membership in some bosozoku outfits is considered a tryout for Japan’s organized crime gangs, the yakuza. Through new laws and new strategies for clamping down on their activities, Japanese authorities are attempting to break the back of the bosozoku cult. Okinawa bosozoku are relatively tame compared to the gangs in mainland Japan. WE were walking back 3 of us but still as kind of scary to see all the motorcycle gangs.
Overall impression from Okinawa really great, it is way to short to get into the country culture in 1 week, you can just ‘lick’ a bit of it.
We were coming back tan, relaxed but still with the feeling of deficiency of the Japan cultural experiences … Need to reapeat next time Tokyo