Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gingko Avenue at Meiji-Jingu Gaien, Tokyo

Meiji-Jingu Gaien, or Meiji Shrine Outer Precinct, is a massive garden including a gallery, a hall and a variety of sports facilities such as National Olympic Stadium and Jingu Baseball Stadium. It was built to honor the Meiji Emperor's deed after his demise and has been run by Meiji Shrine.

The main approach of the garden, that leads you to the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, is outlined with gingko trees. The entrance of the avenue is one meter higher than the end of it. Moreover, it is designed that the trees at the entrance side grow taller than the ones at the end side do. They are to make the avenue and the gallery look more beautiful in perspective.

The trees are gloriously ablaze in late autumn. The warm scenery, in the season in which you feel the advent of winter, is a delight for people walking by.

Gingko Avenue at Meiji-Jingu Gaien, Tokyo [iPhone 4S/HD]
- Shot in 1080p full HD with an iPhone 4S on Nov. 27th, 2012

Related articles:

Meiji Shrine ~Shrine in Deep Forest in Tokyo~
Marunouchi Illumination 2012, Tokyo

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shogun's Procession in Kawaguchi, Saitama

Route 122, which connects central Tokyo and Iwatsuki, Saitama and is also known as Iwatsuki Road, was once called as Nikko Onari-Michi that literally means Nikko Shogunate Road. During the Edo Period ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate, the successive shoguns made processions along the road. It was to visit Nikko, where Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the shogunate, is enshrined. The procession took place 17 times from 1617 to 1843. Although it was initially frugal, it increasingly became glamorous to show citizens their dignity. The procession held in 1728 by Yoshimune Tokugawa, the eighth shogun, was made up of 133 thousand people consisting of the shogunate family and their retinue. Some of shoguns were not able to cope with the cost of making a procession and had to give it up.

The road passes through my city Kawaguchi, located in just north of Tokyo. There were once two inn towns in the section where now the city is; Kawaguchi Inn Town and Hatogaya Inn Town. The first several processions went along Nikko Road, a more easterly route. However, Iemitsu Tokugawa, the third shogun who was known as a gourmet, changed the route to have his first day's lunch of the four day trip to Nikko, at a temple in Kawaguchi Inn Town. The temple might have served good lunch.

Nikko Onari-Michi Festival was held on an autumn Sunday in Kawaguchi City, to re-enact the historical parade. The festival had two sites; Kawaguchi Inn site and Hatogaya Inn site, and the parade moved the one to the other by subway. It was probably the first shogun's procession in the history which took a train. A few big names, including Ken Matsudaira, a famous period drama actor, and Rino Sashihara, who was once a member of the pop group AKB48 and is now a member of HKT48, also joined the parade and excited the crowd. Although the number of the people making the procession was quite smaller than the ones which took place several hundred years ago, 180 thousand spectators gathered at the sites to see the old but new procession, that was more friendly than before. They did not have to kneel but cheered when the procession passed by.

Shogun's Procession in Kawaguchi, Japan
- Shot in 1080p full HD with an iPhone 4S on Nov. 11th, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Make Gyudon (Beef Bowl) with Raw Egg

Gyudon is a rice bowl dish. Simmered beef is served on top of steamed rice. It is one of the most popular Japanese fast foods. You can see numerous gyudon stores as you walk around a city in Japan. It is also easy to make at home.

[Simple Recipe] How to Make Gyudon (Beef Bowl) with Raw Egg [iPhone 4S/HD]
- Shot in 1080p full HD with an iPhone 4S

Ingredients for a large bowl:

350g steamed rice
150g thinly sliced beef
1/2 sliced onion
150ml water
1 1/2 tbsps Japanese sake (or white wine)
2 tbsps soy sauce
1/2 grated ginger
A dash of sugar
A dash of salt
A dash of Hondashi (or other instant dashi) *1 *2
1 Raw egg (optional) *3


1. Boil the water in a pot.
2. When the pot starts boiling, add the Hondashi and stir it.
3. Add the onion to it and boil it until soft.
4. When the onion is soft, add the Japanese sake, the sugar, the salt, the soy sauce and the beef.
5. Cover the pot and cook it on medium heat for 10 minutes.
6. Add the ginger and wait for 1 minute.
7. See how it tastes and adjust the taste with sugar and soy sauce.
8. Place the cooked ingredients on the rice in a bowl.
9. Put the beaten egg on it. (optional) *3

Hondashi is one of packaged instant dashi. Other instant dashi like Dashinomoto are also fine. Dashi is a kind of a Japanese cooking stock. It is not very difficult to make dashi by yourself, but I use the instant one this time. This is a simple recipe.

I think many people from other countries overlook dashi when they make Japanese cuisine. Looks like some people make some Japanese cuisine without using dashi, even when it is necessary for the recipe. Then they say "This doesn't taste good!" Come on! Dashi is the keystone of Japanese cuisine. You can't omit it. Go to an Asian market or Amazon and get some. Or make it by yourself. If you can't get any dashi, other stocks could be used for instead. Weiba (a Chinese instant cooking stock) or bouillon cubes... But I have never tried them for gyudon. I am not sure if they work well.

If you live in Japan, I recommend you to put a raw egg on it. It really tastes great. I don't recommend you to do it if you don't live in Japan. Eggs being distributed in Japan are designed to be eaten raw, but in other countries, they are not. You would have a stomach ache. I know that some people think Japanese are immunized with raw eggs. But it is wrong. Even Japanese would have a stomach ache when they eat a raw egg outside of Japan.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Yabusame at Meiji Shrine, Tokyo ~Japanese Mounted Archery~

Yabusame, or traditional Japanese mounted archery, is the ritual dating back to 9th century. It is performed to entertain the gods. An archer dressed in a noble costume rides a horse and shoots three arrows successively at three targets. Even today, you can see Yabusame at many places.

Also at Meiji Shrine, the shrine surrounded by 170 thousand trees in central Tokyo, Yabusame ceremony is held as an act of the shrine's annual festival. This year again, the archers wowed not only the gods but also the crowd with their brilliant skills.

Yabusame at Meiji Shrine, Tokyo ~Japanese Mounted Archery~ [iPhone 4S/HD]
- Shot in 1080p full HD with an iPhone 4S on Nov. 3rd, 2012