Side effect of sweet fatty foods

The other day, my doctor showed me the result of my blood test.  I was taken aback when I saw it.  My cholesterol level was very high.  The doctor said that it would be better for me to take some medicine to reduce it. 

I looked back over the last few months and suddenly understood.  It was what I had eaten.  Recently, a bakery opened in my neighborhood.  It’s an authentic French style bakery and its croissants, baguettes and handmade confectionary are so good that I’m almost addicted to them.  Take my word for it, they are as good as ones from famous boulangeries or maybe even better, though it’s just a local bakery.

I asked the doctor to let me have a couple of weeks because taking some medicine isn’t my cup of tea.  I’ve decided to reduce the cholesterol level by myself.  Then, I checked some websites and found a very good ingredient that is effective for getting over hyperlipidaemia.  The ingredient is a water-soluble fiber that is contained in soy beans, seaweed, fish with a bluish back, plant oil, and what not. 

I had been eating water-soluble food day in, day out.  Two weeks later, I had a blood test again.  I did a double take when I saw the result.  OMG!  I succeeded in reducing my cholesterol by 48 points and as to my neutral fat, I lost 186 points.  Besides, I lost 2.2 kg in weight.  It’s too good to be true!

Now that I found how to control my cholesterol, I’m relaxing my guard a tad.  It’s a very dangerous attitude because we have a lot of fat, rich food during the New Year’s holidays.  The most important thing is that I should keep on having a good eating habits.  I hope my good blood test score is not just temporary. 

I'm joining a blog ranking.
↓ Thank you very much for your click. 
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語ライティングへ


Tawaraya in Kyoto

Moss garden attached to Sakae room in Tawaraya ryokan hotel.
One of the words that won the prize in the buzzwords-of-the-year contest was “omotenashi,” or hospitality.  However, what is omotenashi exactly? 

I looked it up on the Internet and found a very good explanation.  "Omotenashi is a traditional Japanese way of hospitality with the most dedicated and exquisite manners.  It creates an ambiance of tranquility and relaxation where guests will experience unforgettable moments at ease. 

So, where can we experience the most refined way of omotenashi in Japan?  In my opinion, it’s at Tawaraya ryokan hotel and I headed for Kyoto to stay there in the beginning of autumn.  Tawaraya has 300 years of history and is one of the oldest and most prestigious hotels in Kyoto.  The name Tawaraya is known all over the country, even though it’s just a small hotel with 18 guest rooms.

Good hotels usually offer us clean rooms, good food and comfortable sleep; but Tawaraya does more than just fulfilling such basic needs.  The Japanese, since ancient times have always been sensitive to the changes of the seasons.  When we stay at this unique hotel, we can become more sensitive to this.

Toshi Sato, the owner of Tawaraya said in her book; “I think that the identity of the Japanese is an affection for the changes of the seasons in every aspect of our lives, such as clothing, food and interior design.  The cultural succession is nothing but just continuing seasonal events regularly.”

When I stayed at Tawaraya, there was a Shoen Uemura’s hanging scroll that represented autumn maple leaves.  Along with it, Japanese pampas grass and toad lily arrangement was combined on tokonoma (alcove where art or flowers are displayed).  Besides, a lot more very important fine art pieces and flower arrangements that related to autumn were displayed various locations in the building.  It reminded me that a hint of autumn was in the air. 
Uemura Shoen's hanging scroll

to my eyes it is
not clear that autumn has come
but the chill whisper
of the invisible wind
startles me to awareness

translation:  http://warbler.ryu.titech.ac.jp/~yamagen/gromit-the-db/KW/html/KW000169.html


This is a poem that Toshiyuki Fujiwara composed in Heian period (794-1185).
I was able to feel the essence of this poem while I was staying at the hotel.  It was a very unique and important time for me to reaffirm my cultural background and to understand aesthetic of the Japanese. 

I'm joining a blog ranking.
↓ Thank you very much for your click.

にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語ライティングへ


Aso Kojima’s ceramics

Last weekend, I went to Kawagoe to visit a gallery, Utsuwa Note to see Aso Kojima’s ceramic exhibition. 
Exhibition room.  How nice it is!  
When I was younger, I collected ceramics, but I lost interest in it before I knew it.  What inspired me look at ceramics again was an article in an art magazine. 

It says that there is a new movement in the Japanese ceramic industry after a long stagnation caused by the bubble economy bursting.  The characteristic of the new artists’ work is that they are strongly connected with “nature.”  We can feel the touch of soil and fire in their works and Aso Kojima is one of the artists in this new movement. 

Aso Kojima is making ceramics and also growing produce.  It’s his lifestyle that he sticks to.  Being familiar with ‘soil’ as a farmer, he is trying to develop something different.  He is really an artist rather than an artisan because of the way he lives and what he makes are both unified. 
I bought these things and they all appear in our daily table.
I bought some pieces at the gallery including bowls, a small vessel and what not.  They are strong, warm and sensitive and there is no doubt that they are good match with Japanese daily dishes.  Speaking prices, to my surprise, they added up to only 8,000 yen!!! 

“It’s merely ceramic.” Kojima often says.  It means that his ceramics should be used a lot in your daily life, not put on higher place on your shelf just for appreciation.  This philosophy is in his pricing.  They might be merely ceramic, but they are usable art pieces.  It would give us a lot of enjoyment in our daily life. 
Gallery Utsuwa Note is located very close to Kitain temple in Kawagoe.

I'm joining a blog ranking.
↓ Thank you very much for your click.

にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語ライティングへ


Star Watching

photo:  http://spaceinfo.jaxa.jp/ja/binary_star.html
Many people are eager to go all the way to world heritage sites, but they even don’t seem to notice that there is a breathtaking view just above our head.  It’s the night sky.  I think that it’s a shame for all of us to lose the opportunity to see it because of the light pollution in big cities.

Last weekend, I got out of the town and headed to the mountain area to enjoy watching stars in spring.  It was a new moon night and the best time for observing stars.  Although it was raining when we got there, we were very positive that the sky would clean up by midnight.  And, as we expected, the rain stopped.  Besides, the rain washed away the dust in the air and sky became nice and clear, which we seldom have a chance to see.  How lucky we were!

Some experts operated a few telescopes that were connected to computers.  They input some data of the location of stars that we want to watch so that telescopes would automatically start searching them.  It’s like an auto pilot system for airplanes.  Unless we use computers, it will take a lot of time to focus on the targeted stars because some of them are just itsy-bitsy spots in the sky.

We explored the night sky up until dawn.  The stars we watched at night were various.  Albireo, which appears to be a single star to the naked eye is actually beautiful double stars through a telescope.  The Saturn is an observable bright star with your naked eyes if you don’t expect to see its ring.  Some galaxies such as M57 ring nebula, M27 dumb-bell nebula, globular Clusters are really exciting because they are beyond my perception of time and distance.

The Milky Way on that night was incredibly clear and we were able to see the white belt that flew from the Swan to the Scorpion.  We also saw some artificial satellites flying across the sky while we were looking up the Milky Way.  The more I know about the night sky, the more I like it.  It’s very addictive.

Milky Way
photo:  http://kai-kuu.jugem.jp
↓Thank you very much for your click.
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語ライティングへ


Women’s Notebook

The government is now planning to introduce “women’s notebook” (女性手帳)as one of the countermeasures to the falling birthrate.  It is to promote young women learning right knowledge about their reproduction mechanism and also to encourage to give birth to a baby by the time they reach their mid 30s.

Raising children is not an easy task and there is no doubt that women should go through the process while they are still young.  Besides, as they get older, their eggs get older as well and the chance of pregnancy definitely drops down.  As far as educational aspect is concerned, the government attempt is understandable. 

However, I’m still uncomfortable with this “women’s notebook.”  For me, it seems that the government is trying to push women to take some responsibility for the declining of the birthrate.  It’s not just women’s problems, though.

In the first place, what caused the birthrate to decline?

Women have been encouraged to work more in their workplace.  And with the Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society or 男女共同参画社会基本法, women are expected to occupy 30% of managerial position in various fields of the society at least by 2020.  Working women’s 30s is a very important period to build their career.  That’s because women have some sort of fear that they may loose the place where they are after coming back from maternity leave. 

On the other hand, men seem to be less confident and less responsible for making their own family.   Looking around me, girls are sometimes complaining about their boyfriend.  One girl said that her boyfriend is dilly-dallying getting married because he isn’t a regular employee, even though they have been dating for many years.  And another girl said that her boyfriend is indifferent talking about becoming a father.  Maybe, men are not mature enough to build up their own family.

Apparently, it’s not just for women who have to tackle with the declining birthrate.  Men should also get involved in it as being a good partner with women.  And, one thing for sure is that we need to respect any decision that a married couple makes, whether they want to have a baby or not and when they want to have a baby.  We are not living for the sake of nation’s policy.

↓Thank you very much for your click.
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語ライティングへ


Tsukishima and Tsukudajima walk

I went for a stroll around Tsukishima and Tsukudajima.  On the face of it, these areas look quite modern with many condos, but there is still something nostalgic in the air. 

■Monja street
When it comes to Tsukishima, it’s nothing but monja-yaki.  I bet that 80% of restaurants in Tsukishima are monja restaurants.  It always smells yummy on so-called monja street.

I found a very interesting object in the back street of Tsukishima.  Here is a question.  Why did they put a floating bridge that combines two houses?  I guess that a young man and a young woman who were next door neighbor each other must have gotten married. How convenient it is!   What is your take on this?

■where a lighthouse was located
Tsukudajima used be a small fisherman's village. 
This lighthouse is a replica of the old one.

■Tsukuda Kobashi bridge and a canel

The huge chimney that you can see over the Tsukuda kobashi bridge is for sentou, a bathhouse.  The residents of the condo must be very happy to have a bathhouse on their premises.  

There is a basin under the bridge.  Interesting contrast with high buildings. 

■tsukudani shop

No Tsukudajima trip is complete without dropping by a tsukudani shop.  Tenyasu, which has 170 years of history, still remains Edo atmosphere.  I bought some tarako (cod roe) and katsuo-no-kakuni (tuna).  Best partners for cooked white rice. 

Sumiyoshi shrine
The first Torii of Sumiyoshi shrine is located just beside the riverbank.   It means that people in Edo visited here by bout.  It’s just like the God of safety marine transportation! 

■The Sumida River

My second favorite bridge, Kachidoki bridge, is seen over Tsukuda Oohashi bridge.

■at the bottom of Chuo Oohashi bridge

A bicycle that lost its owner is now having a new beautiful partner.  What a nice second life!

■Amazake yokocho
We left the Sumida River at around Sumida ohashi bridge and headed for Ningyocho to get a train back home.
It was a nice break to have a cup of amazake, at Amazake Yokocho in Ningyocho.  It’s a sweet drink made from fermented rice and it’s also good for your refreshment after walking long time.

■sukiyaki Imahan

“Isn’t it a good idea to have sukiyaki dinner at Imahan in Ningyo-cho?”
“Sounds soooooo good.” 
In the end, we bought just-fried-sukiyaki-croquettes at the deli corner of Imahan and ate at the shop at once.  Umm, yummy!

↓Thank you very much for your click.
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語ライティングへ