Yoshizen's Blog

Paulownia / Princess Tree

If you see only a flower of this plant, you may well mistaken it as a flower of foxglove, but this flower blooms on the 10m tall tree.

This is a tree called Paulownia, AKA  Princess Tree.   This tree was named by a German doctor who brought it back from Japan, Franz von Sieblod.   Russian Royal Princess, Anna Pavlovna helped Siebold to compile the book of Japanese Flora, hence the name of this flower was dedicated to her. — (U and W in Poulownia can be pronounced as V !)

In the east, this tree (could grow even 15m tall) has been used to curve music instrument and make the furnitures for a bride. (The wood repel the insects, hence protects the Kimono inside)  So that, when the parents got baby daughter, in tradition, they plant this tree and the time of her wedding, the grown tree was used to make dowry furnitures. —– How sweet the story isn’t it.   🙂

If you see (and smell) this flower, you will be convinced how noble this flower is. —– Why noble ? —– She doesn’t have a pompous beauty like a big rose, or the Somei-Yoshino Cherry like over whelming gorgeous power, and she looks rather humble, still its presence makes your mouth shut.  Siebold must have felt the same.

Untill two days ago, I didn’t know this tree was here and I was thinking only another tree in the north London.

This group of plants used to be called Labiatae (since its looks, and as in the same group of foxglove, Sage, rosemary etc) though, now they were called Lamiaceae and the botanical classification is lots more complicated.  (May be the study of gene might have found which species is closer each other etc.)

When I saw this tree from a distance, I thought it was a Jacaranda, —–  I have a quite soft spot to the pale violet-coloured flowers, I don’t know why, and the smell of this flower has been imprinted to my subconscious since I was small.   And its associated memory coming back at once.   It was THE MOMENT to see a lost friend again after many many years !

Fallen flowers still giving nice fragrance —– this is how royals smell !   And you know, royals never fart !   😀

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All mighty Good

 It said to be 500 years since Martin Ruther cause a revolution in the history of Christianity.  In the time of authoritarian Catholic, Martin Ruther started to preach, to communicate with the God in the common language, not in Latin.  (Obviously, even all mighty God didn’t have a multi lingual capability then !)

In the 13th century when western Christian mission arrived to Japan, they found that the Japan was the most awkward place to preach. — Japanese asked to those missionaries “If your God was such all mighty, why he couldn’t come here by himself while speaking in Japanese ?”  Of course, those western monks couldn’t answer the question. = So, they failed to convert Japan into Christianity and failed to make it into a colony, so even now, the Christian population in Japan is only about 1%. (Though, I’m not sure this figure include Muni as a part of Christian population.)

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Puzzling Cherry

Seeing this picture, very few of you will noticed that this is in fact a quite familiar place.  In deed, I’ve shown the photos of here in my blog a lots of times if not over hundred.   This is a very corner of the green patch I described as a flower meadow in my blog in the past three years. 

Why I’m fussing about was, the wild cherry trees growing here, now having a full bloom.   What’s wrong ? —– Nothing wrong.     But I just wondering how those cherry trees came here.  What I dubbed Instant flower meadow was created by the local residents on June 2014 simply by spreading the seeds of the meadow plants.   So, I guess that, those more than ten cherry trees, all about the same size, looks the same variety, must be started to germinate here then as the same lot. (= not accidentally brought by the bird as an individual seed.)   So, they all together are now three years old siblings and having the flowers first time. 

In the past, I was thinking that those small trees were the seedlings of the nearby Multilayered Cherry tree.   But now a fraud was exposed !    The bag of the “Meadow Flowers Seeds” were adulterated with cherry seeds = and its right or wrong have to be strongly questioned.  Ever growing those cherry trees wouldn’t go together with the idea of a flower meadow. —– May be closer to the real nature and its cycle of the plant though, those wild cherry were too obstructive to “The Meadow”.  They are not expected to grow in a garden patch of a council housing estate here.

The particular cherry itself was a rather primitive wild cherry.    So, I want to see this flowers have cherry fruits and eaten by the birds.  (then spread to other locations. —– would it really happen ?) 

You might be noticed a phenomenon, that the most of the cherry blossom doesn’t have the siblings under the tree.  First of all, not all of them makes cherry fruits, let alone good to eat fruits. Because of them were created only for the sake of beautiful flowers, and often those variety was infertile.  Especially the most popular cherry in the world, Somei-Yoshino was originated from just one tree discovered in the Somei village in the west of Edo (Tokyo) 150 years ago.    From that tree, all the Somei-Yoshino were artificially propagated by grafting one by one.  ( But now, with the limit of the genetic strength, the Somei-Yoshino is coming to their end, and the nursery had stopped to produce any more Somei-Yoshino, following a direction of  the Japanese Gardening Association.    It was replaced by the next generation “Jindai Akebono” ! —– You can Google this story.)

So, the under the Somei-Yoshino tree, there even a single seedling germinate. 

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Japanese Pickles 漬物

pickles1-a09a7167Again here, there is a fundamental difference of the idea between east and west.  Western people think the pickles is in the vinegar though Japanese think pickles is the name only for western food pickled in the vinegar.  Because Japanese makes the vegetable preserve in totally different way and the taste completely different.  Japanese calls them Tsukemono /漬物  (Funny thing is there are certain food pickled in the vinegar exists in Japan though they were called Suzuke / 醋漬, not in the western name pickles.   😀 )  As in the winter, we can see the vegetable called “Hakusai”/ 白菜(Chinese calls Bak-choi / 白菜) Chinese Cabbage.  And it is the time for me to make a Hakusai-zuke (pickled (?) Chinese Cabbage) —– This must be the second simplest cooking after a grilled fish. (simply give a bite to a fruits may not be a cooking = just a way to eat.  = it is not in a count.   🙂 )  So, how to make Hakusai-zuke ? 

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(Put the leaves into a bucket in layers and cover them with a suitable size of a dish.)

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(And put a soup bawl kind to have a space = because the leaves will sink under the pressure, while the water is coming out and rise.  I cover whole bucket with a plastic bag and put a heavy weight from outside.  I used an electric transformer as a weight.)

Put it in a bucket with the sprinkle of salt and keep it under a pressure of a heavy weight 5~7 days.  (With a pressure, the air was pushed out, so the anaerobic fermentation takes place.)   That’s all. 

pickles4-a09a7180With the vegetable’s own enzyme and the common bacteria, it would be naturally fermented and change the taste.  How much the amount of salt is not very critical.  In Japan the salt content of the vegetable Tsuke-mono said to be dropped from 15% to less than 5% in the past 50 years or so = So, it can be one shake of salt for every few layers of leaves. (If you want a stronger taste, you can put a drop or two soy-source or chili kind when you eat.) And how heavy the weight should be = somewhat 2~3 Kg = fill the water to an empty milk bottle or a kind and use it. (I’ve been using an electric transformer.  🙂  ) 

(I’ve put the pickling bucket into the other room where no central heating and leave the bucket for 5~6 days.)  (Photo left) — It seems, the Tsukemono made in the Winter is the best.  (Low temperature might keep the bad bacteria out.)  When I was a keeper of a mountain shelter, we made 5 binful Blacken  (Warabi) Tsukemono in the early summer and the same amount of local vegetable (Nozawa-na / 野沢菜) in November to accompany the meal for the guests.  It was a mountain of tsukemono !

Of course, there could be many variation which you can have a fun such as to put a hot chili sauce or the other vegetables etc.  Chinese people makes it with a lots of salt and they can be kept many years as really a preserved vegetable, called Tou-chai / 冬菜 and it must be the origin which came to Japan with Zen Buddhist.  (Yet, on the historical record,  Japanese has been making pickled vegetables 1000 years ago and there are hundreds of different style of Tskemono there.  Still, the basic idea is the same = use the effect of the natural bacteria’s fermentation to create distinctive flavor to the vegetable. (Though, may not necessary to make a good preserve because, it got only few days for the best eat and after it, it became to “Over pickled” taste became too sour, the color too brownish etc. — Yet, my guess is, when people found that the old natural fermentation become sour = why not use the vinegar from the beginning for the sake of consistency and the longer shelf life of the product. — this might be the start of the Pickles in vineger. )

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(After 5~7 days, when the Hakusai-zuke was ready to eat, I shredded it and put into a jar while mixing with additional Chinese hot chilli sauce.  Since the pickled Hakusai is conveniently in a jar, it is easy to serve onto the rice.)  M m m,  Yummy !

For Japanese, the Tsuke-mono is a way of cooking —– to make it for long preserve, there are many different way such as pickled in a salty miso or use Sake etc.  The amazing difference in the western pickles is, that their taste was designed = what type of vinegar, what is the additional ingredient such as Junipers, dill seeds etc. and it almost symbolizes the fundamental difference between Judea Christianity and the Buddhism.  The one try to make the taste by their own idea, and the other see what the nature can make and follows it.  (It must be a very interesting point there, why the west didn’t start anaerobic fermentation of the vegetable, while having such as the wine making alongside.)    I haven’t tasted it though, there said to be the Zen Tsuke-mono made in the temple which is in the original Chinese style (much salty) — but to make it more acceptable mild taste, a Zen master, Takuan / 沢庵 said to have invented the use of rice bran with salt = it became the “Takuan Zuke” = which made his name as big as Ikkyu / 一休 on the history !  Since then, in most of the case, the tsukemono mean pickled in the salty rice bran — but it is so awkward to keep and smelly = it is the house wives’ nightmare.

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(Yet the matter of fermentation is a combination of the bacteria = So, with a help of modern chemistry, the convenient short-cut was invented !

—–> Now people can make Tsuke-mono conveniently in a glass jar.  —  magic bullet was given to me from the friends though I haven’t tested it yet = if you like to try, it called “Nuka-yorokobi” from a Japanese food shop.)   Good luck and enjoy a taste.   😀

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Lost in Translation

There are quite few Japanese words notoriously difficult to translate into western language. 

Such as  Itadaki-masu (いただきます), Okage-sama (おかげさま), Mottai-nai(もったいない)、and abave all  Wabi, Sabi. (わび) (さび)

Why those words were difficult to translate, was because of that the one’s fundamental conscious to exists were completely different in the west.   Some said that because of the difference between the Christianity and the Buddhism.  But, to my eyes, the cause was much deeper = because of the fundamental difference, the westerner invented God, but the people in the east IS living under the Heaven since the beginning of the time. (so that, even Buddhism adapted the Dharma / Rule of the Universe)  And in the Shinto, (of which Japanese unconsciously follows) naturally follow the Rule of Nature which is almost the same to Dharma though sublimated much deeper down to the almost chemical level.  (That’s why Japanese doesn’t touch other’s possession and wash or clean the hand almost obsessively = so that, they were reluctant to shake hand, let alone kissing others, because they were prohibited to touch filth by the Shinto. —– hence, wearing surgical mask to avoid to breath other’s germ. = some of them even don’t eat a rice ball made by others hand.) 

In the same time, since the Japanese has the deep awareness that they “were Made to exists” by the Heaven, Rules, Dharma what so ever called, when they start to eat, they have to say Itadaki-masu = I gratefully receive this given food and thanks to the food (material itself) who gave their lives to me as well = Japanese are well aware that they are killing the Potato, Beans etc boiled alive.  Likewise, the word Okage-sama meant the thanks not only to the person who gave a kindness to him but also grateful to the Heaven who arrange the meeting. = This is the word to express absolute humbleness. = conscious toward the “Given Life” and thanks to its fate.  And the word Mottai-nai meant “Feel shame to waste the precious resources which has been given to us“.

=== It’s easy to see the point, that the fate of the rice glowing society was governed by the sun and rain = nature, not by a strong hunting, fighting individual. (The western God was conceived as an ancient Hero ascended to the heaven (A legend became myth, then to a religion) = therefore speak same language, and negotiable with a bribe = how humanistic !    😀 )

In contrast to the east, the western’s Ego justify his existence “As a rightful owner of my life”  and have a right to kill and eat, because they were made to be eaten. = thus feel no sorry to a butchered chicken.  Such fundamental difference between arrogant Ego and passive Humbleness couldn’t have the same kind of sentiment, the psych which is the base of each word. = therefore no compatible word could exist.   No wonder a trouble in translation.

I’ll explain the words Wabi and Sabi on the next post with sample photos. 

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Live on a fantasy = naughty talk !

This is a photo of a girl’s figure costed almost 2 million yen = about £14,000.  (You may see more photos in this link.  >>> http://onecall2ch.com/archives/8593286.html )  It seems, her name was Megumi Kato — though I have no idea whether she was a character in a comic story ?  Apparently the person who bought this figure (one of 10 people) was quite rich and having many more figures in his collection which were displayed in a special room !   The guy seemed to be  hooked by the love for the fantasy world. —– Was that anything wrong ? —– In fact, there has been many many stories of “A man fall in love with a doll” in the history.  Or, even with shoes, under wares etc etc = so-called fetishism.  A man can love anything, pretty deeply.  But sometime people call it “Obsession”.   Anyway there is no sane love .

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You might say, this is a bit healthier choice as she is a real woman (girl ?) in flesh.  She, Ai Shinozaki is, probably the most adored idol in Japan.  If you Google her name, you may find the 10s of thousands of items in their list. = on top you may find a site having her nearly 5000 photos in their collection.   Obviously, she is not a world-class beauty, — you may even say plain, some even call her pig though, yet the boss of Japanese Woman’s Association ( somewhat that kind) complained that because of her, so many Japanese man has been trapped by her and kept away from “normal” marriage. 

It might be true. = Psychologically being in love with her, the one can feel somewhat the same kind of comfort and the excitement, without having all the awkward trouble and the cost of real life. — Delusion can have anything.   Why not and what’s wrong.    😀

Don’t you remember, when you were in early teens, you’ve fallen into love with somebody (often others say, “Why her ?”) the one, even never seen her reality, worse still even without knowing the name.  Unlike a girl seeing in a train, young man can download or print-out  Ai Shinozaki’s half-naked body.   As she got very strange and strong pull, on top of her big boob, she is the idol pretty enough to fall in love yet still having no mess of life with real woman.  If a man want to have a sex, it’s easily available anywhere = So, who need to get marry = hence now-a-day 1/3 of eligible Japanese men are not keen to get involved in relation, let alone get marry.   Cynical irony is, since the male and female population is about the same, effect of the attitude of the men affects the women.

When the effect of the baby boom started to bite on the 70s, the population difference of men and women forced-out million of women from having the relation = women were forced to live alone hence the needs of equal pay and all sorts of women’s right became the serious issue.   Since then, the Human-right, Protection of this and that etc getting further and further creating independent-minded women, sexually liberated women etc = to the man, it’s mean better not getting involved, better keep distance from them otherwise the worst could be sued and be claimed compensation.   The society was disintegrated, or even into anonymity.  

In principal, equal number of both sex and the monogamy system was to guaranty every member of the society to have an equal chance to have a mate and rise a family.  In order to reinforce this system, the availability of sex was strictly controlled (= only allowed between married couple) and the relation has to be “contracted under authority / even by the God” and hard to divorce. —– To establish this system, mankind spent thousand of years of trial and error while negotiating with “Human Nature” !    But, once the fragile balance was broken, only the chaos would come.   Not only the less and less marriage, the spread of SD especially syphilis among the young Japanese people are alarming rate.  And it push the birth rate even lower.

—– In different aspect, this chaos could be a remedy provided by the Dharma to curb the exploding world population.  😀

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Chilly still very hot !

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It’s a dark gray winter (in theory though, the reality here in London it has been quite mild) — so, why not to have burning red staffs ! (Somebody kindly educate me, the history how such hot staff was named as Chilly !    😀 )

I’m not dealing with Xmas kind though, I have to deal with closing shops or stoppage of the transport etc —– so, I decided to get lazy while saving a work by cooking a Chinese Ma-po-Tofu for three days meal.  It’s a hot staff.  So, not only a hot Chinese seasoning Toban-jan, I bought a bowl full of chilly.  It was the medium size one on the photo though, it found to be a seriously hot staff.  (On the photo, left large one is rather sweet and having the “most Chilly Pepper like exquisite flavor”.  And, right small one is notoriously, killingly hot ! = better not to handle it with your bare hand !)

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Seriously hot still, they are classified as edible = fit to human consumption.  So, they can be cooked just like other vegetables, chopped and boiled with others, carrot, onion, potato etc. with your seasoning.     —– Three days portion of Ma-po-tofu was a big amount ! = 500g of minced beef (rather horrifying staff to some of you) four fist sized onions, one 12″ size carrot (grated), one big spoonful of minced Garrick, five big spoonful of Chinese Toban-jan, four hot chilly, 800g  (one pack) of  Tofu, one spoonful of sugar, etc. of seasoning (such as Chinese 5 spices etc.) = altogether put into a big pan !   So, this is Ma-po-tofu.  (As it was originated from Szechuan, it is hot indeed — still, we can survive. (as I did.  😀 )  (You may find a bit more moderate recipe in the net. )

There seems to be a quite common boast all over the world which is, “Our cooking is the hottest in the world” (Egyptian said so, Mexican, Malaysian, Korean, Jamaican, —– etc all insisted so, alongside the amount of drink he can take, and how big his penis is.  So, they are the things what the man try to cling in his pride.  (In material level though.)   (Do you do ?    😀 ) 

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Mindfulness yet again ? ? ?

Many years, I’ve been having incongruity toward the use of the word, so-called Mindfulness. — With a kind of hunch (There seems to be a big mistake ! ), I refer back to the Agama scripture how they wrote about the definition of Selfless. —– It seems there is no direct description of No-self in the Agama, but only the indirect explanation, which was as an answer to a question “Is there permanent Self (Atoman) exists ?”   It was only in a metaphor of the impermanence of a soil (or cow dung). (= Even such simple existence of soil couldn’t be permanent, how the mind or Self could exists permanent.)

Of course the No-self was not the primary phenomenon but only a consequence of No-permanence, and No-permanence was because of the constant activity of the Karma. Understanding of the Karma was Lord Buddha’s most fundamental philosophy, and from here, such as Four Noble Truth were deduced.   Therefore, it may not too strange to have less significance of the No-self in the Agama scripture.   Or, it could be the deliberately placed emphasis to negate the Self.  Since you can’t talk about a thing which is not exists. Why Self is not exists, because it was a deluded product of the mind.  And the mind is only a momentary reflection of the Karma.  So that, to put emphasis on the mind (of awareness / memory) in the Mindfulness practice IS not Buddhism.  In deed, the Theravada sect who promoted the idea of Mindfulness was based on the idea of Sathi, which was the idea in the Vedic meditation.   Of course Vedic stands on the idea of Atoman = Perpetual mind / Self = so that, become aware of the mind = mindfulness IS their practice.   It is not a Buddhism but nothing but a Hindu practice.  This IS a typical mix-up or a misunderstanding of the Buddhism by the Theravada sect.

Whether clinging the mind could bring any good to the mental health of the person, in comparison to the empty-minded Buddhists.  It was too apparent in the social phenomena in a Hindu country, in contrast to a country where people even don’t remember that they were the Buddhist = Japan.   A country where the notorious brutal gang rape cases were kept happening, or the country where the safest place to travel.       The question IS where their Ethos and the Morality came from.

It was the observation made by Lord Buddha 2500 years ago.   Clinging the idea and such mind is nothing but a delusion since the idea of “such mind could exists” itself IS the delusion.   And let all the five senses free = not to stick to any perception will make us to emancipate any notion or image, hence able to see the Dharma. (All those notion, images which were the products of thinking, has been masking the Dharma.)

It IS the biggest irony, as long as you are thinking or seeing something, you can not see the truth. When you abandon to see, you start to see the Dharma. — The most funny irony IS, to abandon to see, stop thinking to see IS exact opposite of the so-called mindfulness practice. So, those so-called mindfulness practice is creating yet another delusion and the obsession.

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Fill the sink-hole in one week

A sink-hole ( 30m x 25 m x 15 m deep) appeared in the center of Hakata city in Japan has been filled just in a week. Here is a video footage of whole process condensed to the even shorter 140 second. (Compiled from the NHK 24 hours live camera image)   They are a record of the ordinary ground work = nothing fancy, no drop of the soil from a helicopter kind but just a filling work, connecting life line etc. in a gapless efficient works.  Hence it was done in the shortest possible time (save a little delay due to the bad weather) of which the foreign media described that if it was in their country, it could have taken a month, even a year or more.    Though it involved ten or more specialist company, each work wouldn’t take long hours to do = in other words, well organised continuous work (= without waiting, arguing kind of time waster) work could be done and has been done. —– On this episode, the most crucial point in the Japanese psyche is, that they can make themselves Ego-less at once.  This is the core of the Japanese Ethos, originated from the Zen Buddhism, Mushin (Mind of No-mind). With this deeply sublimated Ethos = Collective Unconsciousness, all the construction company, expert in each trade come together work together, disregard the competing company’s interest etc. The company’s interest, individual interest were copletely over ridden by the sense of “Duty”to serve the community. 

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What ? – 3/4 second on “B” setting ?

a09a6803On the 100 years old lens,

an instruction was given,

“On a dull day, use a tripod

with the “B” setting and

give 3/4 second push.

—– What ? ? ?   In 100 years

ago, could a user of camera

give 3/4 second push to

camera’s shutter ? 

—–  Well, my guess was, that the camera user then must have

practiced a lot for the precise push of the shutter lever.  

The English tradition was, to count the second while saying

One Monkey, Two Monkey, Three Monkey ~ ~ ~ ~ !    Therefore,

only say “One Mo” would be half second and “One Monk” would

be 3/4 second !      (Really ?   You must be kidding )   😀

But I’m not sure whether a French photographer ever did

“Un Monkey, Due Monkey ~ ~ ?       equivalent Japanese practice

said to be, say “Obaaachan” (Granny) for one second and

“Obachan” (Aunty) for half second. (— Count many second by

repeating  “Obaaachan” while counting on fingers.)

— Try Count One Monkey ~ ~ ~ Ten Monkey while watching a

watch and get the rhythm.  (One day, you may need it.   😀  )

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