Thursday, January 31, 2008
Essentially, what you do is steep the tea in milk, so you could use a tea strainer or permanent filter to get the job done.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Ten years ago Mr. Okazaki joined the Kumamoto branch of the Inosanto Methods Unified Martial Arts Association, founded by Bruce Lee disciple Dan Inosanto.
Today, almost 35 years after Master Lee's death, Ozaki still promotes the preservation of Lee's cinematic, martials arts, and philosophical legacy, all while working at his day job as a clinical technician at the Japan Red Cross Kumamoto Health Maintenance Center in Kumamoto City.
(Kumamoto City is the capital of Kumamoto Prefecture, which also contains the Aso region where Mellow Monk Green Tea is grown.)
Mr. Okazaki says he is the descendant of a renowned Edo period swordsman from the Otokoyama Clan (who may or may not be the same Otokoyamas who started the sake brewery of the same name).
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Nutrition, which has the full article about the study online.
Aren't you glad I didn't post a picture of a fatty liver?
9. Cough syrup doesn’t work. [Well, we already knew that.]
15. It may not feel like it, but it’s good luck when you have people at home and at work who aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re wrong.
18. Keeping an open mind is as big a challenge as you get older as keeping a consistent waistline.
23. Grudges are poison. The only antidote is to let them go.
31. Physical attraction is nice, but shared values and a shared sense of humor are the real keys to lasting love.
35. Candor is overrated. It’s hard to unsay what you’ve said in anger and almost impossible to take back what you’ve written.
No, not that grudge. (See lesson #23.)
Monday, January 28, 2008
Green tea's claim to fame is its antioxidants, which may help boost the immune system. People drink green tea to fight aging, arthritis, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease and many other conditions. But can it prevent the common cold? A 2007 study found the ingredients in green tea can enhance the body's immune system by 28 percent. The antioxidants in green tea are said to be 100 times more effective than vitamin C.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
First built in 1673, the five original wooden arches of the Kintaikyo stood for nearly 300 years, until they were destroyed by a typhoon in 1950. The current arches were built 3 years later.
Tamaryokucha, which is appreciated for its less-astringent flavor compared to Tokyo-style straight-leaf sencha, is made primarily on the island of Kyushu, where Mellow Monk tea also comes from.
I've seen some discussions on the 'Net asking whether tamaryokucha is the same thing as "guricha." The answer—doubled-checked and verified by our growers—is a most definite "yes": the two terms refer to the same tea.
The name "guricha" also means "curly tea," with "guri" being the name of a curly design pattern seen in traditional Japanese architecture and crafts (see the bottom photo below).
A close-up of the curly leaves of Monk's Choice Green Tea, a typical tamaryokucha (or "guricha").
A guri design carved into a wooden box.
Friday, January 25, 2008
An entrepreneur in Japan hopes that a new type of odor-eating insole laced with natural mint will boost patronage at traditional Japanese restaurants, where diners often take off their shoes before stepping into a tatami room. Research showed that more and more people were avoiding such restaurants because of a reluctance to unshoe their less-than-pleasant-smelling feet.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid. The second kind is capable of indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice as to what orders should be given. Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by two organized bodies of men; this is called politics.
Bertrand Russell (1872–1970).
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The rice bags, called by the brand name Dakigokochi ("huggability" or "huggables"), are the brainchild (pun intended) of a rice shop in Kitakyushu and are a combination birth announcement and birth gift, both customs in Japan.
The bag is printed not only with your baby's portrait but also name, date of birth, and weight. And as an added gimmick the shop adds just enough rice so that the bag weighs exactly the same as your little bundle of joy.
Rice bag announcements for little Sakumi (left) and Juki (right), who weigh in at 2,790 and 3,380 grams (6.1 and 7.4 pounds), respectively.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
(Her cage is open most of the time, although her flight feathers are kept short enough to keep her from flying very far in the event she gets outside—we have a lot of cats in the neighborhood!)
"Mmm ... nice and warm."
Monday, January 21, 2008
Since olden times, families in heavy-snowfall areas of Japan have built such snow domes, where they grill mochi, drink sake, and enjoy other treats.
In wintertime, many cities in "snow country" hold a kamakura festival, where groups of people gather to build veritable kamakura villages and enjoy various festivities.
There's a kamakura festival in Yokote City, Akita Prefecture. A little closer to Tokyo, there's the Kamakura Festival of Yunishigawa, a town said to have been founded by members of the Taira clan who fled there after their defeat at the hands of the Minamoto clan in the late 1100s.
The snow domes of Yunishikawa.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
More amazing than any movie set: Bhutan's Tiger's Nest Monastery.
A great winter shot of the Chion-in Temple.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
On January 1, I cozied up with my copy of The Ultimate Tea Diet, steaming mug of coffee in hand, and by page eleven I was firing up the teakettle.
—The Culinary Tourist
I have read this book and found it to be totally fascinating and informative. I have already started the diet and have started shedding pounds but more importantly inches! It's great... they are just melting away. Plus I have more energy and feel great. I bought some of the craving teas on line and love the way they taste. I have a real sweet tooth and they have really helped me stay away from my daily dose of candy and ice cream.
—Sue from Chicago
And remember—of all the varieties of tea, green tea is thought to be the best at helping you lose weight, as it contains the highest levels of green tea polyphenols, including one found only in green tea—EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).
Mr. Ukra has promoted his book, diet, and recipes on Good Morning America.
Here's a recipe from The Ultimate Tea Diet:
Rosemary Orange Tea Chicken
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 oranges
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon of dried, plus fresh sprigs for garnish
• 1/4 teaspoon finely ground green tea
• 1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Mix together the olive oil, juice of 1-1/2 oranges (set aside the other half0, pepper, salt, chopped rosemary, and dry tea. Pour this marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat a grill pan or barbecue until hot. Remove chicken from the bag, discarding the remaining marinade, and grill until browned on both sides. Thinly slice the remaining orange half and serve with the chicken. Decorate with a sprig of rosemary.
Nutrition Per Serving: calories 170, fat 2.5g, protein 28g, carb 8g
Friday, January 18, 2008
A poster Ohrai did for the Japanese-dubbed version of the first "Star Wars" movie in 1982. (Until then, only the subtitled version was available in Japan.)
Master Ohrai (as he's reverently called by fans in Japan) also did a series of posters for the 2006 disaster flick "Nihon Chinbotsu" (Japan Sinks).
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Whereas we all know that exceedingly reasonably priced Mellow Monk teas taste good because they really do taste good, as customer feedback shows.
Some day I'll have to do a blind taste test against a much more expensive competitor. Any takers out there?
Purification water at the entrance of Kokuzo Shrine in Aso, Japan. The shrine is located at the inner edge of the volcanic caldera (valley) where Mellow Monk tea is grown. Yes, you are allowed to drink this water—that's what the ladles are for. In fact, the water at this particular shrine is astoundingly delicious. It's natural spring water right out of the surrounding mountains, and it is fantastic for brewing tea, too.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I've been using this Hamilton Beach stainless-steel electric cordless kettle. It worked fine for about a year, but lately the auto-off feature has stopped working: Even after the water reaches a rolling boil, with hot water splashing out of the spout and all over the wall next to where I have the kettle plugged in, it keeps on boiling and boiling, which is actually a little scary if you think of it.
I also see from the reviews on Amazon that I'm not alone in my negative assessment. Buyer beware!
Time for a new kettle. I searched on Amazon, and I'm thinking of picking up the Braun shown below.
This Braun electric kettle is popular and very highly rated on Amazon.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The bridge is located in the Kamimashiki region of Kumamoto and was completed in 1854.
The Tsujunkyo Bridge is famous for its picturesque beauty, and for the beauty of its waterspouts (used to clean the aquaduct) and of its rural surroundings.
Monday, January 14, 2008
She can now get help from her employer to care for Pochi.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Parkinson's disease is caused by the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Researchers in this study found that these cells are protected by the polyphenols in green tea.
Parkinson's disease at the cellular level.
Friday, January 11, 2008
(The other two of the big three are Mt. Aso and Suizenji Park.)
Below are a couple of clips of the song performed in Japanese films.
Here's actress Chiemi Eri singing a version of the song in the film "Orishidori Senryogasa."
Here's a more modern version of the song, from "Seishun Kouro." I believe this is Chiemi Eri again.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Instruction for what is probably the most popular origami figure, the crane (tsuru).
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Could Hello Kitty aftershave be too far behind?
What I've always wanted—a Hello Kitty safe!
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
At its Konnichian teahouse in Kyoto, Urasenke recently began its traditional New Year's hatsukamashiki, or "first kettle-boiling ceremony."
Urasenke's website has photos of last year's hatsukamashiki. The text is Japanese only, but the beautiful photos are fairly self-explanatory and can be clicked to bring up high-resolution versions. There is also an English-language version of part of the site.
Urasenke has offices all over the world. U.S. locations include San Francisco and Seattle.
An entrance to Urasenke's Konnichian teahouse in Kyoto.
Monday, January 07, 2008
And if you're reading this but haven't tried our tea yet, please consider giving us a try. We are supremely confident in the quality of our tea, and at Mellow Monk, your satisfaction is always 100 percent guaranteed.
The moonscape-like nature of the terrain around the volcano's crater is because the sulfuric gases emitted kill off most of the nearby vegetation.
Also, gas emissions from the crater, as well as seismic conditions throughout the vicinity, are closely monitored 24/7.
A ride up to the summit of Mt. Aso
Super cool—a helicopter ride over Mt. Aso's steam-belching crater
Touristas at the summit, right next to the crater, on a foggy day
Japanese news coverage of a minor eruption in 1979
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Katsu gained superstardom in Japan in the 1960s playing the blind traveling gambler and masseur "Zatochi" in the long-running movie series of the same name.
For an actor, Katsu was a pretty decent singer, and it stands to reason: As the son of a famous Kabuki actor, he was trained in classical Japanese acting and singing in his early youth.
Also on this track, check out the funky jazz guitar, the jamming piano, and the melodious background singing.
The cover of Katsu's album "Yoru wo Utau."
Katsu Shintaro as Zatoichi in "Zatoichi 3: New Tale of Zatoichi."
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Japan's National Cancer Center, where the groundbreaking prostate-cancer study was conducted.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Just think—when they're done with the testing, the company could turn the tower into an amusement park ride—as long as they please, please keep those naked old guys off the elevators.
The elevator testing tower.
Uh, sorry guys, you're not getting on the elevator like that.
(After the linked-to video appears, you have to click the play button to begin the clip.)
An aerial view of Boulder, Colorado, home of EcoGreenOffice.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
In Kumamoto City, the capital of the prefecture in which the Aso region is located, 16 public baths gave their first customers of the year a special treat: a bath with genuine sake added to the water.
A "sake bath" is said to speed up your metabolism and make you skin soft, hence its popularity with women, according to the article from which the photo below was taken.
There are also hot springs where you can heat up flasks of sake to drink later.
The bath owner shows bathers which brand of sake they're soaking in.
[Source: Kumamoto Nichinichi Shinbun.]
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
But this list omitted another simple and inexpensive (and 100% natural) way to revitalize your skin: green tea.
Skin care tip #7: wash your face.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Shrinegoers in the snow in Aso.
A snow-covered Aso City. This shot is of the Sakanashi neighborhood of Aso City, only a couple of miles from where our growers live.
[Photos from Kumamoto Nichinichi Shinbun.]