Monday, October 31, 2005
In his book From Fatigued to Fantastic, Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., writes: "Theanine can enhance concentration and clarity, so it actually increases mental alertness while reducing stress."
Sunday, October 30, 2005
This is the second-oldest of the 38 such societies in the United States. The oldest, founded one year earlier, is Boston's.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
But someone's going to have to come up with a catchy name for this drink. If anyone has any suggestions, please post them as comments or send me an email.
Note that the article says
The black volcanic soil [of Aso] gives birth to some of the finest produce in Japan.
Including green tea!
Incidentally, the place name "Aso" (阿蘇) is the name of the region (roughly bounded by the huge caldera in which it's located), the name of the county, and the name of the city, which was recently formed by the merger of Ichinomiya Town, Aso Town, and Namino Village. These names all originate in the name of the volcano that looms over the area—Mt. Aso.
Friday, October 28, 2005
I wonder what it's like...
Hey, today's Friday. I'll let you know tomorrow.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Plentiful seasonal rainwater, well-drained soil and fresh-air fog (away from the ocean, where the fog is salty) are the ideal growing conditions for tea. An overly rainy season can flush out the flavor characteristic of tea and make it weak. Too little moisture can make it weak. Too little moisture can take away key flavor nuances or make it harsher than usual. Ideally tea is grown at an altitude of 3,000-5,000 feet on a 45-degree slope, where the water won't pool and foggy mornings keep the leaves and the roots moist.
From "Champagne of Tea," by John and Kerry Laird (www.pacificbaycoffee.com)
By the way, the above is a description of the Darjeeling area of India—explaining why the black tea grown there is widely considered the "champagne of tea"—but it applies word-for-word to the Aso area, where Mellow Monk tea is grown.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
This site is a nice way to take a mellow break from your day.
Monday, October 24, 2005
With Frenchman Carlos Ghosn at the helm, Nissan has been working to rebuild the company. Bringing back the iconic Skyline seems to be part of that effort. Hmm... Bringing back nostalgic cars of the past... Where have I heard that before?
(Previous posts about the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show here.)
The castle was built in 1407 but almost completely burned down in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion (which was the "inspiration" for the film Last Samurai). Expect plenty of festivities in Kumamoto when the castle turns 400 in 2007.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
There's an abbreviated version here.
I posted this information to good-naturedly contrast it to the Mellow Monk philosophy of tea, which holds that you shouldn't use scales, measuring cups, or thermometers or obsess about water temperature or any other variable. Brewing tea is an art, not a science, and a time for relaxation, not precise measurement.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
This ship bigger than its counterpart in the Japanese navy, and in fact is the largest of its kind in Asia. But most provocative of all to Japan is the ship's name: the LPX Dokdo. "Dokdo" is the Korean name for islets in the Sea of Japan that are clamed by both South Korea and Japan. (The islets are known in English as Liancourt Rocks and in Japanese as Takeshima [竹島].)
This was simply the most recent (but a very in-your-face) resurfacing of a dispute that goes back centuries. The dispute has less to do with the islands themselves, which are essentially uninhabitable, than with the oil and natural-gas desposits under the sea floor around the islands.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Every time he does, China and Korea, which suffered atrocities at the hands of those war criminals, do things like call off official visits, raising tensions all over the Asian Pacific.
And it's not like those war criminals are enshrined in the sense of being part of a blanket enshrinement of all war dead. Their names are actually listed in the shrines "book of souls." Not only that, they are listed in there as martyrs.
More on this in another post.
In my case, it's also because the later I stay up, the greater the chance is that I'll have a late-night snack.
These sketches are the perfect thing to mellow out with ... over green tea.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
The convenience store chain may sound like an unlikely venue for iPods, but in Japan, not only does Seven-Eleven have a slightly, ahem, more upscale image, but the stores also offer services beyond what they do in the U.S.--things like photocopying, bill paying, and even paying for and picking up items bought over the Internet.
Prospective iPod buyers will get to see display models in the store. If they decide to buy, they order the item there and pick it up after it arrives.
One category of products sold by Seven-Elevens in America that their counterparts in Japan don't: over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. There, even drugs like aspirin and antacid can only be sold by a licensed pharmacist. This isn't just job security for pharmacists; it apparently has to do with keeping up the price of OTC drugs.
This now-widespread issue was portended for years in the Japanese language by the words that women in such circumstances have used to describe retired husbands: sodaigomi (oversized garbage) and nureochiba (wet fallen leaf—as in hard to sweep away).
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
And just when old-fashioned rickshaws were making a comeback!
Seriously, though, rickshaw drivers aren't likely to become victims of automation anytime soon. In the few cities in Japan where they still shuttle tourists around, rickshaws are as much personal guides to the city as they are a means of transportation. A good rickshaw driver will point out all the trendy places to visit, so that his (or her) passengers can visit them at their leisure later on.
This article has some cool interactive features, such as one illustrating the internal workings of internal combustion, diesel, and fuel cell cars.
Regardless of what you think of Koizumi or Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LPD), whose majority control over Japan’s Diet has been almost continuously unbroken since the 1950s, you have to admit that his strategy in last month’s snap election was a masterstroke: he focused public attention on a single issue--privatizing Japan’s postal system--and convinced voters of two things that would ordinarily seem mutually exclusive: (1) that the LDP was better capable of pulling off reform than the opposition and (2) that voters should reject anyone in the LDP he didn’t endorse.
In other words, he had the political genius to formulate this strategy and the charisma to convince the majority of his own party and the electorate.
Focusing on postal reform was perhaps a way to simplify the whole reform issue for voters while also co-opting the opposition party (the Democratic Party of Japan), which was (and still is) calling for much more sweeping reform.
Koizumi’s political genius is also evident in how he pulled off the second goal: purging his party of “renegades” by hand-picking prominent non-politicians to run against them. These candidates, called “assassins” by the press, prominently included a group of modern, assertive women dubbed--what else?--the lipstick ninja--a term sure to be used in future editions of the Japanese version of Trivia Pursuit or Jeopardy (“I’ll take ‘Early Aught Politics’ for ¥10,000, Kenji”).
At any rate, Koizumi’s victory is also a good example of a political party “cleaning house”—ridding itself of a small but stubborn element that was doing the party more harm than good. In other words, Koizumi’s victory shows that a political party must reform itself before it can go on to reform the country.
But perhaps the most important effect of Koizumi's success is the confidence it has inspired in Japan's political system. This is a double-edged sword: Japanese voters are likely to have more faith in their political system in getting things done--and less patience when some promised reform doesn't proceed the way politicians had initially promised.
Well, here's an on-the-scence story about Country Gold 2002, offering a first-hand account of Japan's country-music subculture. A fascinating read.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Green tea will not only help her burn fat, but will also give her a feeling of well-being.
Lose weight, and enjoy a feeling of well-being? Sounds good to me!
By the way, that "feeling of well-being" is exactly what the "Mellow" in "Mellow Monk" is about.
Monday, October 17, 2005
This is not just a statement by the building's owner, but also a way to avoid the frequent complaints that arise when dog-owning and non-dog-owning residents live in the same building.
Mitaka is also home to Hayao Miyazaki's Ghibli Museum.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Well, I've been using it for a while now, and I'm not as impressed as I thought I'd be. The disadvantages are...
- Hard to empty. With my over-the-cup strainer, when I'm done brewing all I have to do is bang it against something to dislodge the old, wet tea leaves. Something made of glass has to be handled a little more gently.
- (I guess that was my main gripe.)
On the other hand, the advantages include...
- Self contained. The lid can even be used to place the filter on after brewing is finished.
- Looks. This nice-looking, well-designed item will definitely attract attention in your office.
- Practicality. When removing the filter from the cup, the tea drains through more quickly than you'd think, so you don't have to stand there holding a slow-dripping filter, as I worried might be the case.
To summarize: If you don't mind rinsing out the filter in a sink after each cup of tea you brew, this is a practical, visually appealing teacup-with-filter that's great for the home or office.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Right after posting this about the "Aso Boy" steam locomotive in Aso, Japan, I find this article (in Japanese) saying that the locomotive—Japan Railway's oldest operating steam locomotive, and the last on Kyushu—made its final run on August 28.
JR says it made the decision to retire the locomotive because of the high cost of maintenance and the difficulty of obtaining spare parts.
The Aso Boy was strictly for the tourists, but it lent a certain elegance to the rail line that diesel engines just don't have, and I'm sure she—make that "he"—will be missed—especially by the die-hard steam engine aficionados we used to see setting up their camera equipment along Highway 57.
Friday, October 14, 2005
In this shot
you can see the rim of the Mt. Aso caldera in the background.
Incidentally, the name "Aso Boy" is a play on words in its similarity to the Japanese word asobou, which means "let's play."
One reason this is so important is that more and more disease-causing bacteria are becoming resistant to doctors' existing arsenal of antibiotics.
Green tea is mentioned on page two:
Drink tea instead of coffee, especially good-quality white, green or oolong tea.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
And I'm not talking about dozing off in a sitting position on a pubic bus. I'm talkin' not homeless but still 180-degrees horizontal and in flat-out R.E.M. sleep in a high-traffic public place.
Actually, I it's that crime is still very low in Japan. Very low. But even if you talk to old timers in the U.S., you'll hear stories about people sleeping outside in a public (say, on a park bench) and not being bothered at all. That evironment still exists in Japan. Not everywhere. But still in a lot of places.
Now wouldn't that make a person mellow?
According to this article,
Matsuzaka finished the 2005 season with a 14-13 record and a 2.30 ERA. He led the Pacific League with 226 strikeouts, 15 complete games, three shutouts and 215 innings pitched.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The tradition of British tea started in the 19th century, when only two meals a day were served. A duchess invited friends over for an extra meal, as she was hungry in the late afternoons. The tradition caught on quickly, and two distinct forms of tea service evolved: high and low. Low tea was served in the late part of the afternoon in the homes of wealthy aristocrats and featured gourmet tidbits rather than solid meals, with the emphasis on presentation and conversation. High tea, also known as meat tea, was the main meal of the day of the low and middle classes, consisting of full dinner items such as roast beef, potatoes, peas, and tea.
According to Wikipedia, this duchess was Anna Maria Stanhope, 7th Duchess of Bedford.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The film is set in the mid-1930s, a time of rising militarism, and the scene above shows a banner on the wall with a typically patriotic phrase common to the times.
The first two characters (reading left to right) are "Shindou" (臣道), meaning "loyalty" or "obedience" (to the Emperor, presumably), but I can't make out the next two. If anyone has a clue, please let me know.
I don't think I've ever spoken with Tom, but we've probably attended the same conventions.
He's also got a page of links for English-to-Japanese translators (the people, not the computers).
Monday, October 10, 2005
Sometimes just reading about another city is a great way to "escape" for a little while.
The 346-pound Futeno said he couldn't finish the pastrami sandwhich he ordered at a local deli. But he had better luck at the poker tables, where he won $3,000.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
One is sokaiya, which refers to a person (usually a yakuza) who buys a small number of shares in a company for the purpose of attending the annual shareholders' meeting and extorting money there by threatening to disrupt the proceedings with shouting and other unruly behavior.
Sokaiya breaks down into sokai, which means "annual meeting [of shareholders]," and the suffix ya, which means "purveyor of" (as in panya, a baker) or, more broadly, "someone who makes his living at [something]."
The book's author has his own blog about the book.
Friday, October 07, 2005
This is a perfect example of the Mellow Monk philosophy of green tea: a cup of tea should also be a chance to take a step back from everything and relax. When you're anxious or stressed out, green tea, with its gentle aroma and flavor, is the perfect way to mellow out.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
A group working to promote togetherness among these factions plans to erect a statue in Bruce's image. Members of the group say they hit on the idea when they got together to talk about things both sides had in common. They soon realized that ol' Bruce was a popular childhood hero on both sides of the river.
Now that's cool.
In the Shizuoka prefecture, which cultivates tea as it has for nearly twelve centuries, the incidence of cancer is unusually low, even by Japanese standards. The residents of the area drink about ten small cups a day and use tea leaves only once, rather than brewing several infusions from the same leaves, as most Japanese do.
The book has hints for brewing green tea, green tea recipes, and information about the history and health benefits of green tea.
Mellow Monk says check it out!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I never bought any of this stuff (and probably wouldn't even if I had a second chance), but this slideshow sure is a walk down memory lane (especially the ad for Mr. Microphone--"Hey, good lookin'! I'll be back to pick you up later!").
A guy named Robert Ryang made a movie trailer that presents the Jack Nicholson film "The Shining" as a romantic comedy. What's so hilarious is that it works--anyone who hadn't heard of the book or movie before would think it really was a romantic comedy. This shows the power of scene selection and music.
The New York Times ran an article of Robert and his no-longer-secret trailer.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Until now, I've been using an "over the cup" strainer for making tea in the office, but I'm going to take the Bodum glass tea filter for a test drive for a while.
Stay tuned for my report on how it works out!
Sunday, October 02, 2005
The magazine Inc. has made this article available online: "Escape from Meeting Hell."
I had been thinking of writing a posting about how to reduce meeting-related stress when I came across this article, which gives tips on making meetings quick and productive.
If anyone has any other tips, please let me know, and I'll post it to this blog.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
It makes sense: Why burn all that gas and diesel transporting water all over the land when you can utilize the tap water that most homes and office buildings already receive?
Some of the better bottled waters may taste better than this reverse-osmosis water, but as far as brewing green tea is concerned, it's still a huge improvement over ordinary tap water. As I never tire of saying, water is the life blood of tea.
I haven't read anything about what reverse-osmosis filtration systems remove and don't remove, versus the content of your better bottled water, but if anyone else has, please drop me a line.