Saturday, March 26, 2022

Trails to Oishii Tokyo

 I am one of the moderators of the Japanese Food group on Facebook and will be posting each weekend about food resources such as books, web sites, and even anime or manga. I have quite a list and once I am done going through it I will make a PDF file of all I have posted and update it regularly.

This week's post follows.

NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, has several TV shows about food broadcast in multiple languages. This is one of those shows, in time I will cover them all.

Trails to Oishii Tokyo focusses on ingredients readily available in Japan's capital. Each program is devoted to one food item covering it from the farm to the kitchen. Even if you think you know Japanese food you will discover many ingredients you never knew existed.

Do note the on demand shows eventually expire so I recommend you start with the oldest and work your way to the most recent.

Trails to Oishii Tokyo

Saturday, March 19, 2022

A Dictionary of Japanese Food

Hosking, Richard

A Dictionary of Japanese Food: ingredients & culture

Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle Co., c1996.

Many years ago a professor at the university I worked at came into the library with a question for me. You see she was going to be teaching in Tokyo for a term and knowing of my knowledge of Japan wanted to know what book to buy. I did not hesitate I immediately took her to the reference section and pulled out our copy of this title. She had been expecting a travel book. I explained that she could peruse several at the public library to gain some useful tips and compare which were the most informative. I stated that the dictionary would be a far better choice.

After her return she took me out for a very nice lunch at a private club and thanked me. She said she kept the book in her purse and put it to use in dining out and shopping on a regular basis.

For anyone interested in Japanese food or traveling to Japan this is a book I recommend. One advantage is that it includes kanji and kana which can be an asset in communication with locals who may not understand your language.

I purchased my copy in the late 1990s, recently I also bought the e-book version to have at hand on my iPhone and iPad for quick lookups.

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Stories Clothes Tell

Horikiri Tatsuichi

The Stories Clothes Tell: Voices of Working-Class Japan 

Lanham: Lexinton Books, 2016

One of the frustrations of researching cultural minutia in Japanese entertainment is the lack of information on traditional clothing.

Books on traditional Japanese clothing are almost always about formal kimono that only a very small percentage of the population would have worn. I find this frustrating as while there are excellent kimono books with good solid information finding out about the clothing worn by farmers and laborers is almost impossible. This book is a strong exception as it is about working people's clothing.

Originally published as magazine and newspaper articles the volume covers a large range of types of clothing, and other cloth items, that the author collected. Not only were the items themselves collected the tales behind them were also gathered. Anyone interested in the social history of the poor, of clothing, and more in Japan will find this one a rewarding read.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Wakako Zake

Wakako Zake

When Wakako gets off work she loves to find a place to eat and have a drink to unwind from the day. She carefully makes her choices as the food and drink must be paired well. However this is not pretentious high cuisine, she eats at neighborhood places, the kind you can drop into on a whim. Each chapter of the manga is short, only a few pages, but manages to fold in a good story without any fluff.

Then there is an anime, which is also short, each episode is just a few minutes of delight.

Then there is the live action drama, the episodes are regular length but still preserve the fun of the original manga. There are six seasons of the drama, I hope to see all of it.

The manga is distributed by Media Do and is available as an e-book on several sites, I get mine from Apple.

The anime is on Crunchyroll:

The drama is also on Crunchyroll:

Thanks go to to Deb Aoki who recommended this title in the Mangasplaining podcast. Without that recommendation I may have never seen it.

For more on the podcast see: