• March 29, 2022
    • October 13, 2022

    Japan Travel in the Know: A Hokkaido Restaurant (Japanese Soup Curry)

    Ramen and curry are national dishes for the Japanese people If you can only eat just one food, which would it be, ramen (noodle) or curry? I ‘m sure we all the Japanese people have asked and answered this stupid question at least once in our life. In other words, ramen and curry are the top two popular foods in Japan. As I looked up the number of restaurants, ramen is about 24000; curry about 4700, respectively. I think the above difference in number well expresses the difference in character. Ramen is something to eat out; curry is one of home-cooked meals. In fact, when I was a kid, my mother made it at least two times a month. She always made a lot, and I had to eat it for three days in a row. I’m 100% sure this kind of ordeal still occurs in many Japanese homes. Have […]

    • March 25, 2022
    • September 30, 2022

    Thoughts Make Things: What Is the Origin of Life?

    Super-advanced mechanism of E. coli The upper limit of the F1 engine speed is 15000 rotations per minute (rpm). For your reference, when I commute, the average engine speed of my small economy car is about 1500 rpm. You may be surprised to see how much I don’t want to go to work, rather than admiring the speed of F1 engines. Sorry, that’s not the point of this post. Do you know we have mechanical systems rotating faster than F1 engines in the body? It’s E. coli. They move in our intestines by rotating their flagella. The speed is about 20000 rpm! To my more surprise, the flagella even have a clutch mechanism to rotate reversely. Furthermore, the energy conversion efficiency is almost 100%. It’s only a hundred and some tens of years since we humans invented internal combustion engine systems including a clutch mechanism, while fungi have a long […]

    • March 21, 2022
    • October 13, 2022

    Japan Travel in the Know: A Hokkaido Restaurant (Dairy Sweets)

    Hokkaido is No.1 in salmon roe The Japanese people like to eat fish eggs. The roe of salmon and cod (pollack, to be more precise) is the top two. Salmon roe is one of special marine products of Hokkaido. It comes into season in the autumn, and we local people buy and pickle it ourselves. It’s well-known that many tourists come here with the aim of eating salmon roe. In addition, Hokkaido is also a top production area of pollack roe, but it’s little known. Most of the Japanese people believe the home of pickled pollack roe is Kyushu area. It’s located far opposite to Hokkaido, in the southern part of Japan. Of course, most of them are made of pollack roe caught in Hokkaido. Our ex-chairman often lamented over the big loss in local profits, saying it’s a good example of failure in branding. Hokkaido is No.1 in most […]

    • March 17, 2022
    • September 24, 2022

    High-context Culture: Do You Know the Meaning of Silence in Japan?

    Arrival: Cognitive difference between humans and aliens Have you watched the Hollywood movie titled “Arrival” (2016)? Simply put, it’s a science fiction depicting the contact with aliens. I know it may sound same old, but it’s completely different. The movie depicts the close encounters from the view point of linguistics. What is most interesting to me is the design of the letters the aliens use. It is 3D! The scriptwriter must be a genius. I just imagine he would have set the story like this. The aliens live in a four-dimensional world (because they’re depicted to see time as reversible), and so, their letters are expressed in 3D. I’ve never even imagined to design letters in 3D, even a little. Can you believe it? The letters can be read from three directions! This was a fresh reminder of the fact that we can’t transcend our cognitive frames so easily. Gattaca: […]

    • March 14, 2022
    • October 13, 2022

    Japan Travel in the Know: A Hokkaido Restaurant (Genghis Khan)

    It’s not about the emperor of the Mongel Empire Genghis Khan is a barbecue of mutton, lamb, and vegetables. It’s one of Hokkaido specialties. Mutton and lamb are not so generally eaten in Japan. There are many Japanese people who don’t like the smell. It’s very difficult to find a Genghis Khan restaurant outside Hokkaido. In fact, there were not so many even here in Hokkaido when I was a kid, like 30 years ago. Genghis Khan was just one of home-cooked meals at that time. It appeared on the dinner table at least twice a month in my home, not a special treat at all for us. To be honest, I still have a little difficulty paying and eating it outside at a restaurant but must admit there are some good ones. The truth about Genghis Khan, a Hokkaido specialty On the outskirts of Sapporo, the capital city of […]

    • March 10, 2022
    • January 27, 2023

    Japan Tips from Locals: The Role of Japanese Giant Hornets in the Ecosystem

    Rare and luxury food, honey made by Japanese honey bees Have you ever eaten honey made in Japan? It’s more expensive than ones imported from China and Argentina (I think those two countries are major honey exporters to Japan). The made-in-Japan honey is expensive, but most of it is made by European honey bees. The real one made by Japanese honey bees in Japan is so valuable. Of course, I’ve never eaten that, though. Japanese honey bees are slightly smaller than European honey bees, and accordingly, their ability to collect nectar is lower. More time is required for the harvest, which diversifies the sort of honey ingredients (flowers), ages honey like wine, and consequently makes the taste richer. Another reason why it’s more costly is Japanese honey bees don’t stick to their hive, while European honey bees do. No matter how much beekeepers take care of their hive, they sometimes […]

    • March 8, 2022
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Not Crazy Rich! High Class in Japan

    First encounter with a high society in Japan A noble class still exists in Japan. I learned the surprising fact when I worked for the prefectural government in Nagoya (the fourth biggest city in Japan and TOYOTA’s home ground) about 20 years ago. The fact may be surprising only to me because I’m from Hokkaido. It is the area sometimes called the last frontier of Japan with a short history of only about 150 years. I had never seen such a class society until then. I think they’re different from just rich people. In my opinion, they are modest, exclusive (loyal to their own society), and mysterious. Mind you, I had and have nothing against them but just curiosity instead. Glimpse of a high society in Japan She was a university student at that time. I met her in an English conversation school I attended every weekend. It took long […]

    • March 4, 2022
    • January 29, 2023

    Japan Travel in the Know: Hokkaido Is the Kingdom of Ramen

    Ramen is the expression of Japanese people’s local pride The most popular Japanese noodle dish is definitely “Ramen.” Nobody would argue against it. These days, Japanese Ramen restaurants open even in Manhattan. For your information, one of such gaining momentum overseas, “Ramen Santouka” originates in Asahikawa (our hometown), though their NY shop is located a little outside of Manhattan. I saw on the news that New Yorkers ate it over drinks and chat, like enjoying elegant Italian pasta dinner. It’s totally different from the one I’m writing here about. In Japan, Ramen is a fast food. Some consumer research says the average time to finish Ramen is only 14 minutes. Funnily enough, Ramen is closely related to Japanese people’s local pride. It’s probably because Ramen is reasonably priced and popular especially among the common people. You can see many Japanese people brag about their local Ramen even on the Internet, […]

    • March 1, 2022
    • September 28, 2022

    Oscar Wilde Said “Be Yourself” but We Don’t Even Know What We Like

    We can’t even explain our own taste Why do we like what we like? This question has been always stuck in my head. For example, I like curry but don’t want to eat it every day. On the other hand, I eat cereal every morning, though I don’t like it very much. I watch YouTube videos of social science as much as those of animals, but I would only talk about the former if asked. I know this is simply due to my silly pride to make myself look smart, though. In this way, we don’t always do or express what we like, and sometimes lie about it even to ourselves. Our taste is so complicated and mysterious that we can’t explain in most cases. Our expressed intention is untrustworthy If you’re interested in this mystery, I’d like to recommend this book: “You May Also Like” by Tom Vanderbilt. The […]