Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Winning over fans in Japan.
"Learning to draw relieves stress. And everyone can learn to draw. It just depends on how much drive you have."
You, too, can learn to draw like this.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi.
First, I smiled big and said, out loud, "Hello, anxiety!" Confronting my stress on friendly terms makes it less ominous, says my doctor, psychologist Joe Brown, who practices in the Hartford, Conn., area. Plus, the ritual is so goofy it takes the edge off.
Next, I made myself sit right down and get to work. Because, Dr. Brown helped me discover, procrastination is a huge source of my stress -- and stress-related behaviors such as cramming mini marshmallows into my maw by the fistful.
Monday, January 29, 2007
For instance, most Japanese wouldn't be surprised to hear that Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Matsui, Kazuo Matsui, Tadahito Iguchi, home-run king Sadaharu Oh, and Kei Igawa are all type O:
In Japan, people with Type O are commonly referred to as warriors because they are said to be self-confident, outgoing, goal-oriented and passionate. According to Masahiko Nomi, a Japanese journalist who helped popularize blood typology with a best-selling book in 1971, people with Type O make the best bankers, politicians and — if you are not yet convinced — professional baseball players.
He's blood type O.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
"Sasuke," by the way, is a reference to legendary ninja Sarutobi Sasuke, the subject of numerous ninja movies, TV shows, and anime.
But this modern-day ninja is for real!
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Hida-no-Sato, in Takayama.
Friday, January 26, 2007
The frilled shark normally lives at pitch-black depths of 2,000 feet or more, hence the rarity of its appearances.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
The doctors were looking for a link between green tea and stomach cancer, and what they found is excellent news for aficionados of green tea.
Not only did their findings "provide further support on the protective effect of green tea against stomach cancer." This was also the first time that "green tea drinking was found to be protective against chronic gastritis," which many doctors believe increases the chances of developing stomach cancer in the future.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
One reason might be the exercise that human owners get from "walkies." But that's not the only reason:
"It is possible that dogs can directly promote our well-being by buffering us from stress, one of the major risk factors associated with ill-health."
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The fishmongers who work at Tsukiji are furious—and not just because of the disruption to their livelihoods.
What has them so upset upset about the new site, which is located about one and a half miles away, is the same reason the site has been vacant for so long in a city where land is at such a premium: The previous owners, Tokyo Gas, reported the site "contaminated by toxic spills from their plants."
Monday, January 22, 2007
There's no narration, but what transpires is fairly self-explanatory.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Chinese President Wen Jiabao is likely to announce the gift of several Chinese crested ibises when he meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this weekend at an Asian-leaders meeting in the Philippines, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun daily said on Thursday.
In Japan, this species of ibis was once common throughout the land but today is found only in captivity.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
The ingredients you'll need are:
- 2 slices of fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 thin slice of lemon
- 8 ounces of hot green tea
- 1-1/4 ounces of brandy
This fits in with the larger theory that when it comes to your brain and avoiding senility, "use it or lose it" definitely holds true.
Friday, January 19, 2007
What I'm really waiting for, however, is the teenager version of the article, which hopefully will explain how to respond to such statements as "What do you mean I can't have the entire swim team over for my birthday?"
Any spa worth its bath salts should also teach the art of relaxing when you're away from the spa, such as taking a green tea break.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released an update of its database on the flavonoid content of foods. (Flavonoids, also called bioflavonoids, are a category of compounds that include catechins and other strong antioxidants. Scientific evidence has consistently shown that eating foods high in flavonoids reduces your risk of cancer and heart disease.)
The USDA's numbers haven't changed much since the first release of the database. Still, the new release provides a good occasion to revisit the clear superiority of natural loose-leaf green tea when it comes to the health benefits that we all expect from our green tea.
Take epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), for instance. EGCG is not only one of the most important flavonoids in green tea (because of its powerful antioxidant properties); it's also found only in green tea.
The USDA database tells us that brewed loose-leaf green tea contains 77.81 milligrams of EGCG per 100 grams of infusion. Decaffeinated green tea, however, contains 66 percent less EGCG—only 26.05 mg/100 g.
For green tea that comes ready to drink in a can or bottle, the news is even worse: its EGCG count is a measely 3.96 mg/100 g, or only 5 percent of the EGCG content of brew-it-yourself loose-leaf tea.
(The reason is that within a couple of hours of brewing, green tea catechins begin to break down. The lesson, grasshopper, is that if you want bottled or canned green tea that's rich in catechins, you must go to the factory, snatch it as it rolls off the line, and guzzle it down quickly as you use your kung-fu techniques to escape the security guards chasing you.)
Bringing up the rear is instant green tea, which barely registers with an EGCG count of 0.45 mg/100 g (decaf instant) or 0.49 mg/100 g (regular instant). The cruel math says that's only half a percent as much EGCG as natural loose-leaf green tea.
To summarize, brewing your own hot, tasty green tea infusion from natural loose-leaf green tea is the healthiest way to go—and the tastiest, too.
And there are no security guards to deal with, either.
By the way, you can download the full "database" (actually a PDF file) here.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
"Alright, you pass the test. Next!"
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
An abstract of the findings, along with links to the full paper, is available here.
Reflecting birth rates that have been declining for years, however, the latest cohort of 20-year-olds was the smallest in nearly 20 years.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Green tea naturally contains caffeine, but only about 30 percent as much as coffee does on a cup-by-cup basis. In addition to a lighter caffeine load, the antioxidants in green tea slow the body's uptake of caffeine, spreading that caffeiene load over a longer period of time. This helps avoid the "crash" that java junkies experience when their caffeine level suddenly plummets.
In short, when it comes to caffeine, green tea gives you a smooth takeoff and a gentle landing.
Why the sudden resurgence in interest in Japan-India relations? In a word: China.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Still, I have my suspicions. "It was like lying down on a cloud" is how one person describes her first encounter with a natural-latex mattress. Personally, I feel that when it comes to mattresses, the firmer the better. When I sleep on a super-extra-firm bed, my back thanks me in the morning, whereas two nights on a way-too-soft hotel mattress ages me 20 years.
The man who gave the world instant noodles.
Friday, January 12, 2007
(This explains why the correlation between tea drinking and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer is "seen most clearly in east Asia, [but] not in [other] tea-loving countries such as the U.K."—it's 'cause the bloody Brits are always putting bloody milk in their bloody tea, isn't it.)
However, readers of this blog already knew that about tea and milk from a posting I wrote last month.
Actually, last month's posting referenced a study that was done way back in 1996. The German study simply reinforces those findings.
Why are the Danes so happy? Apparently, it's because they have low expectations. When you don't expect much, you're never disappointed. (Kind of a downer philosophy of life, though.)
It reminds me of my brother, the San Francisco 49ers fan: He's never disappointed when his team doesn't make the playoffs, because his expectations of them doing so are so low.
Any nation whose national color is orange has got to be a little different from the rest.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
This is similar to what breweries do with barley—malted barley is simply barley that's been made to germinate/bud and then dried before the budding seeds grow into barley plants.
Germinated brown rice is a red-hot health food in Japan now because of its higher amounts of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) compared to ordinary brown rice.
But what really has people paying attention to germinated/malted brown rice is that it contains twice as much gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) as ordinary brown rice and ten times as much as white rice. That's important because research is showing that GABA helps boost the immune system and inhibits the development of cancer cells.
The GABA content of germinated brown rice sold today would be even higher if so much GABA didn't leach out while the rice is soaking in warm water (which has to be changed at least once during the process because of bacteria growth).
After much trial and error, the Shimane Prefecture Agricultural Technology Center has found a solution to this problem. Their germinated brown rice has a whopping three times as much GABA as germinated brown rice currently on the market. This brown rice has gobs of GABA! The secret? Germinating the brown rice in green tea.
The researchers theorize that green tea prevents GABA loss in two ways: because of its higher osmotic pressure and because it naturally inhibits the growth of bacteria, thus eliminating the need to change the water during germination. One also has to surmise that the green tea also acts like a natural plant-growth stimulator—after all, many Japanese pour leftover green tea on their houseplants and use old tea leaves as a garden fertilizer. Finally, brown rice germinated in green tea obviously absorbs the tea's polyphenols and other good stuff.
In short, green-tea-germinated brown rice clearly has a lot going for it. Watch for green-tea-germinated brown rice (and products made from it) at a health food store near you.
Source: Nihon Nogyo Shimbun (Japan Agriculture Newspaper) [http://www.nougyou-shimbun.ne.jp/modules/bulletin8/article.php?storyid=336].
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Japan's big beverage firms, however, generate a staggering 30,000 metric tons of the stuff every year. As with all waste, this is expensive to dispose of. One firm, Itoen, recently developed the technology for using old tea leaves in building boards and panels. Tatami mats made with these panels are advertised for their resistance to common household odors thanks to the odor-resistant properties of green-tea polyphenols.
P.S. Apologies for disappearing posts and other technical problems with the blog in the last couple of days. Blogger.com seems to have worked out the bugs that were causing the trouble.
Making kimono fabric the old-fashioned way.
Monday, January 08, 2007
The commercial's winter theme ties in with the ad's main point: that in wintertime, Iemon tea is dispensed hot from Japan's ubiquitous vending machines.
The commercial's minimalist dialog translates as follows:
Man: You came out to meet me.
Woman: [handing him tea] Here you are.
Woman: [standing under his umbrella] Welcome back.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Scientists prove what teachers have been telling students since time immemorial: Instead of cramming the night before a test, you'll do better if you get a good night's sleep instead.
The sleep team at work.
"In our country, more training is required to drive a car than to become a parent,” instructor Cortney Gibson told The Indianapolis Star for a recent story.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
Dr. Rachel Bryant
Like the small farms that grow Mellow Monk tea, this tea plantation is located in a mountainous area. That's because the green tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is naturally suited to mountainous climates and grows best on hillsides.
It is only lately in the history of tea that massive industrial farms, with their artificial fertilizers and other chemicals, have been able to grow tea on land where Camellia sinensis would otherwise not grow at all.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
This belief in the preventative effects of gargling still persists today. In fact, during cold and flu season, school teachers often have their students gargle once or twice a day.
The liquid of choice is usually water, but according to an article in the Nihon Nogyo Shinbun (Japan Agricultural Newspaper), administrators at an elementary school in Yame City are having students gargle with green tea. (Yame, incidentally, is a major producer of green tea.)
You can view Google's translation of the article here.
Kids, why not skip the gargling and just drink the tea.
That's the bad news.
The good news, however, is that just as physical exercise keeps the body in shape, "boosting mental skills with simple exercises can help slow the rate of mental decline as people age."
A sampling of "brain exercises" accompanying the above-linked article can be found here.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Two acquaintances of Litvinenko's talk about the night he was presumably poisoned.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The photo below shows a young woman making her hatsu moude at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.
Pictures and information about other castles throughout Japan can be found at Guide to Japanese Castles. The author has personally visited 54 of the castles listed and names Kumamoto Castle as number 1 on his list of castles to visit next.
Why, you don't look a day over 300.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Calligraphy in general is a great hobby, whether it's western or eastern calligraphy, and regardless of what you actually write with your brush.
Me? A party animal?