The original tragedy, by William Shakespeare, concerns the life of the Roman general Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, whose life story didn't need much in the way of dramatic license to be turned into a tragedy for the stage.
The samurai version of Coriolanus, played by Toshiaki Karasawa, the "Alan Rickman of Japan," as director Ninagawa calls him. In real life, he's married to actress Tomoko Yamaguchi.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Crate&Barrel has a new type of tea infuser with a long handle and a silicone tip to insulate the user's hand from heat. The saucer-like base catches leaking tea between uses.
For more tips on brewing green tea, click here.
The long handle enables use with big, deep mugs of tea. And unlike the chain of some tea balls, you don't have to worry about the stiff handle sliding into your cup.
Friday, April 27, 2007
In a boxing game users can throw punches or duck, and their movements are picked up by the phone's camera. In another game, the phone can be tilted in different directions to guide an on-screen ball through a maze.
My theory is that this is a ploy to boost sales of cells phones—because all that punching, weaving, and swinging is going to get a lot of phones broken (including by irate recipients of accidental punches on crowded subway trains).
Oh, and my apologies if upon clicking the above link you were subjected to one of those dancing-silhouette ads. Let's think of it as an opportunity to practice not letting things annoy us.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
A group of tricksters in Hokkaido imported a flock of sheep from Australia and England and passed them off as poodles. That's right—as poodles. In fact, thousands of them were sold, having been touted as the latest trendy pet.
The scam began to unravel when actress Maiko Kawakami complained on TV that her new "poodle" wouldn't bark or eat dog food. So far, there has been no word on whether any of the Hokkaido hucksters were caught.
As for the sheep at the center of this unique bit of entrepreneurialism, many of them have reportedly been donated to zoos and farms.
But I just can't help wondering: How many buyers still haven't figured it out? And how many of them did but decided to keep their sheep anyway?
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
SELENE's objectives are twofold: to study the moon and catch up with China.
Artist's conception of Japan's SELENE lunar orbiter.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Just remember: Don't put milk in your green tea!
Saturday, April 21, 2007
It's a bus, it's a train, it's the Dual Mode Vehicle (DMV).
Friday, April 20, 2007
(This story was reported in Japanese in the April 14th online edition of the Nihon Nogyo Shinbun [Japan Agricultural Newspaper; in Japanese only].)
I haven't tried JA's tea, but it is easy enough to create your own blend: Just put a pinch of Monk's Choice or Top Leaf Green Tea into your teapot or your permanent tea filter along with a pinch of our Hojicha and—voilà—there you are. It's fun to experiment with different blends of green teas. Give it a try.
Also, notice I said a "pinch" of green tea. I was being intentionally vague: Brewing tea is an art, not a science, and teatime is a time for relaxation, not for stressing over exact amounts of tea or water, exact water temperature, or exact brewing time. Remember, grasshopper, the ultimate goal is to brew the perfect cup of tea—that is, your perfect cup of tea—instinctively and intuitively.
The great Bruce Lee said about his fighting style, "I do not hit. It [his fist] hits all by itself." That's what a Mellow Monk tea master should strive for—the "all by itself" part, not the hitting part.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
But what I didn't realize until recently is that the hot toddy was originally named for a famous Hollywood actress, Thelma Todd.
Tragically, Thelma died in 1935 at the age of 30. One of the last people to see her alive was her ex-husband, reputed mobster Pat DiCicco. DiCicco, along with actor Wallace Beery, was also a suspect in the death of Ted Healy, the vaudevillian who in the mid-1920s worked with three young funnymen who would eventually find fame as the Three Stooges.
Thelma Todd's death was ruled a suicide—a ruling that is still controversial today. Some even say that Thelma's ghost still haunts Hollywoood.
The real "Hot Toddy."
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Cherry Blossom Festival still gave people what mattered most: a good time.
Oh, and for those of you who are really tuned in to popular culture, some guy named Ace Young lip-synched a song called "Scattered."
The most memorable time he brandished his nonskill was when the president at an automotive-parts manufacturer asked Mr. Crawley to organize the company picnic. ... So he began to milk his lack of picnic knowledge for all it wasn't worth. He responded to any inquiries or suggestions with questions and comments such as "How do you do that?" or "What did you guys do in the past?" or even "Help me remember why we're talking about this." Ultimately, responsibility for the picnic was reassigned. Mission unaccomplished.
But to any list of stress-reduction tips, don't forget to add "green tea."
Brew some green tea and mellow out, dude.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Since losing its last obstetrician five years ago, this city of nearly 32,000 in rural northern Japan has been desperately seeking a replacement. So desperately, in fact, that it recently promised a horse to any obstetrician willing to come here.
There have been no takers yet.
Actually, for the women who, after going into labor, have to drive 45 minutes to the nearest big city for medical care, this is no joke.
Monday, April 16, 2007
- People create their own misery by trying to force epic, self-defeating solutions to trivial problems of the ego. (Translation: Stop trying to fix it and just deal with it; don't ruin yourself over pride.)
- Individuals can't go it alone; the key to well-being is found in communication. (Translation: You have to learn how to talk to people without making yourself upset.)
- Too much thinking about a problem can lead to paralysis. The centipede couldn't walk after the cockroach asked him what was the secret of moving all those legs so elegantly.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Hinode's images reveal unprecedented detail of the Sun's surface.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Researchers in Italy have added malaria to the list: They found that green tea catechins such as EGCG "strongly inhibit" the growth of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria.
However, this effect was observed in parasites growing in human red blood cells outside the body; whether this effect occurs inside the body has yet to be verified, although continued research is most definitely warranted, the scientists say.
The above link is to an abstract of the study. You can read the full-length version here.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
However, a study published recently in the journal Pharmacological Research shows that green tea reduces the harmful end products of excessive myocardial collagen and so "may provide a therapeutic option in the treatment of cardiovascular complications of diabetes."
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
After seeing the Snapple commercial, promoting its "new green tea with the most EGCG on Earth," and reading about Coca-Cola's new green tea drink with EGCG content that creates "negative calories," my inquiring mind wanted to know, what exactly is EGCG, and what can it do for me?
The seeker's conclusion:
However, despite all the what-ifs, I'm still a little bit sold on EGCG's advantages. I'm not going to go out and spend the over four dollars it would take to get the right amount from Enviga... But I might substitute my usual mocha for a piping hot green tea.
You are wise beyond your years, grasshopper.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Sounds like a strange question, until you read that Coca Cola is promoting the new drink, whose name translates as "Everyday Green Tea," as a way for to "purge oneself of stress and the toxins people absorb in modern urban life."
(I don't know about the detox part, but green tea is an excellent way to relieve stress.)
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
Now comes another entry in their Japanese Tradition series: The Japanese Tradition: Chopsticks.
Kudos to the Youtube user "gameday" for adding English subtitles.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
This decidedly modern approach to shiitake cultivation has made them locally famous (or notorious, depending on taste in music).
Initially, the brothers began playing the music simply because they liked it but soon began noticing that their shiitake were growing larger and thicker. They also claim this technique is backed up by research showing that mushrooms thrive when exposed to low-frequency sounds (such as the bass line in reggae).
So remember, gang—it's classical music for plants, reggae for mushrooms.
(This story was reported in Japanese in the February 8, 2007, online edition of the Japan Newspaper of Agriculture (Nihon Nogyo Shinbun), but by the day of this posting the article had been removed from the site. The Web, like life itself, is fleeting.)
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Demographics are also involoved. Japan's own baby boom generation is turning sixty, and this year alone about 5 million mostly male workers are expected to retire. Many have been absent spouses, working long hours and socializing nightly with coworkers. The strain of suddenly spending all day together every day after hardly spending any time together is too much for some.
Not wanting to end up like those couples, Shuichi Amano founded the National Chauvinistic Husband's Association in 1999.
"We're, uh, team-building. Right, guys?"
Monday, April 02, 2007
Those who pass the test are also called "sammeliers," a play on words combining "sa" for tea (茶, also pronounced "cha") and "sommelier," the French word for wine steward.
According to the NIA's website, over three thousand instructors and advisors have been certified throughout Japan. These "green tea stewards" ply their trade at restaurants, inns, trade shows and other events.
Tea sommeliers are also in demand at schools, where they teach children the art of preparing the perfect cup of tea. Not that making tea is that complicated—it's just that even in Japan, a lot of kids nowadays think of green tea as something that comes in a bottle from a vending machine.