In Praise of Takoyaki

Japanese takoyaki (たこ焼き) is a dish you rarely find in overseas restaurants but it is a great comfort food. Explaining what they are to someone who’s never tried them, while making sound appetizing, isn’t easy. Afterall, how often do people eat octopus parts cooked in batter (sometimes with pickled ginger) topped with dried, shaved tuna,Continue reading “In Praise of Takoyaki”

Girls Day is Nigh

My son made this in Japanese preschool yesterday. This is the prince and bride depicted in the Japanese holiday of hinamatsuri (ひな祭り) or Girls Day. Girls Day happens every year on March 3rd. We have the doll display setup already, and my wife is preparing a nice sashimi feast for my daughter. Looking forward toContinue reading “Girls Day is Nigh”

Buddhist Altar, Japanese Style

Recently, I was chatting with a coworker who’s a fellow Buddhist and he was asking about how to make a Buddhist altar. It turns out that English-language books usually don’t explain such things, focusing on the more cerebral, dogmatic details. Great if you want to know Buddhist philosophy, but kind of lousy when you justContinue reading “Buddhist Altar, Japanese Style”

Yakudoshi? More Like Yaku-no-shi!

In Japanese culture, certain years are considered inauspicious based on the year you were born and are called “yakudoshi” (厄年). The logic behind these particular years comes from Chinese homophones (words that sounds alike). According to this helpful book, the years listed can also be homophones for bad things. For example “42”, if you sayContinue reading “Yakudoshi? More Like Yaku-no-shi!”

The Twelve Year Zodiac in Japan

With the Chinese New Year recently concluded, I got to thinking about the traditional 60-year zodiac in Japanese culture. The Japanese calendar was originally based off the Chinese Lunar calendar, though this changed in the late 19th century when Japan moved toward rapid Westernization and industrialization. However, the 12-animal zodiac, or jūnishi (十二支), is stillContinue reading “The Twelve Year Zodiac in Japan”