Yoshizen's Blog

Sazanka / 山茶花 (Sazanqua ?)

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As a garden plant, Camilia Sazanka is a rather popular one.   She open the flower earlier than the real Camilia (Camilia japonica / Tsubaki / 椿).   But, as its name Sazanka (山茶花) suggests, it got rather funny story behind.   Camilia family is not a big family and the members share the character closely.   As one of the prominent member, Camilia sinencis (or Camilia Cha = Tea) can make tea, so does the other Camilia. (as, I heard though I haven’t tasted such tea ever.   😀 ) And the real Camilia = Camilia japonica is famous of its seed oil (Tsubaki oil / 椿油) the other member can produce the good oil too —– my guess is, that when the selling point is “Genuine Tsbaki” other oil might be used only to dilute and bulk-up the genuine one.    The name Sazanka (山茶花) seems exposing such kind of story.

The writing of its name Sazanka mean Mountain Tea Flower = regarded to be a tea but, branded to be the second class.  The funniest part of the story was in its reading of the name. = Mountain/山 Tea/茶 Flower/花 should be read San Cha Ka or San Sa Ka.  Though, even in its earliest stage after she was named, she has been called Sazanka.  The reason must be its better sound. (Sazanka sound nicer than Sanchaka !) —– Yet still, nobody thought to change its writing to/茶 山花.   Japanese is very fussy about those writing but in the same time they likes the relaxed joke as well.  (Reading Kanji correctly, you got to know it beforehand.)



Japanese reading (of Kanji 漢字)

It’s no doubt, the hardest part to learn Japanese is in the reading of Kanji 漢字(so-called Chinese character, Japanese got other types of characters, Hiragana ひらがな and Katakana カタカナ as well). Reading of particular Kanji in its particular case may differ from the other.   It may be originated from the ancient Japanese word, or the word related to the Chinese word, hence taking its pronunciation from Chinese — though, there are many different Chinese Pronunciation, from north to south, the different historical kingdom etc.    In short, to read Japanese correctly, you need to know it beforehand. ( = You needed to encounter it before and refer to the dictionary then —– and remember it !)  Make the situation worse, that there are many peculiar words originated from the Buddhism, Confucius, Medical term, Scientific term etc etc. —– (Somebody said that to learn such system from the childhood, it must be a strong stimulation to the brain = so, it’s no wonder why Japanese is receiving so many Novel Prise, while Korean (Who use only simple Hangle ) got non.)

Rather recently, there was a political farce involving even Japanese PM around a word Sontaku (忖度 = mean consideration — I didn’t know such word existed, let alone its reading ) whether the PM gave a special favour when a government land was sold to a private organisation with a huge discount.  (It could be a scandalistic corruption !)  (Think, does the word “Attention” mean favourable special treat ? — or just a handling equal to the other ? = Whether a recipient can sue the officer as the attention the person received was not what expected ?)

See a sample.  Climb a mountain = Yama ni noboru = 山に登る = To-Zan = 登山 —– The word Yama is an original Japanese, we’ve been using it thousand of years. —– Then, the Chinese Kanji was imported = 山 was assigned to Yama which Chinese pronounce Shan or San and here a character 登 was used to express climb = noboru (though, Chinese use it in a bit different meaning)  The same Kanji 山 was read as Yama or San (Zan).  (If you mixed up, you would be only a laughing-stock = Similar to a situation when you ask the direction “Where the Gare Nord” in Paris.   😀 )  ——  In the next post, I’ll show you when Japanese made complete mistake. (or made a joke knowingly )


Ideally ~~~~ or Typical

Think, about your own life, — how can it be “Ideally” re-organized.    Then think about how is your typical daily life ?  —– In either case you may need to think quite deep.

—– So, how about, can you imagine “Typical Buddhist” or “typical Muslim man” ? You may say that you don’t know about them deep enough, or you might draw an image of a caricature = funny exaggeration based on the popular stereotype.   As those Notion of Ideal, or Typical kind were artificially created abstract notions for the convenience of communication or try to show how I am intelligent, they never represent a reality.    Real truth is always stays few steps behind of “Ideal” or “Typical” —– and we all know it.

So, the obvious FACT is, what so ever the imagination you have made-up here just now, in the actual daily life, you ARE just carry on your same old daily Life = You must be realized here, extreme or exaggerated idea came up when you INTENTIONALLY THINK = otherwise you are not having such image or notion = In a real daily life, you ARE living without any artificial conscious of “I AM carrying out my living operation”.  —– As a matter of FACT, while reading this blog, you are even NOT aware of YOU are reading this.   While away from intentional thinking, we ARE naturally following the way of the commonsense or what the Buddhists call Dharma.  Of which we unconsciously follow.

This IS what all about of SELFLESSNESS, and the real situation of the Middle way. (Both extreme were created by the intentional thinking = live without such thinking  (Selfless Mushin)  we can follow the Dharma and it IS the very Middle Way.



Bach — Bernstein — Gould — Zen

Oh my Goodness.    I bumped this old film clip, on Youtube = Leonard Bernstein and Glenn Gould talked about J.S.Bach.
Film was shot on 57 years ago, 1960 then Glenn Gould was 28.   Naturally the film showed the two’s younger looks but what surprised me most was, on that time Bernstein was already “the Educator Bernstein” and Gould was “the Only one, Gould”.

(Other nearby Youtube posts, Gould or Bernstein posts are very educative and highly recommended to watch !)
In fact, me to encounter Bach first time was in the Fellini’s film, “La Dolce Vita” —– in the film, a gossip journalist, Marcello met a church organist and the organist played Bach’s music, Toccata and Fugue in D-miner (the most famous and popular organ music — famous still it was the first encounter to my 15-years-old ear)   (incidentally, that the same actor who played the organist later appeared in the other film “Emanuel” as a sex-gulu ! )

I think, it was the early 90s, I listened a BBC annual radio 3 event, the Christmas Lecture, Bernstein talked about the structure and the music language.  It opened my eyes. —– in fact, it taught me more about our emotion than of the music. —– If the music could expect the same effect, it is the proof of that our emotional pattern is much simpler = such as how we feel from major or minor key, even B-miner is associated with the feeling of death ! — how accurate his view was the other matter, but such a view-point to analyze the relation of us to the music was a shock to me. 

So that, that was the same stance, how and why I adapted my view toward the Zen = instead to see it as a holly spiritual mumbo-jumbo but the scientific / medical phenomenon of the neuro-physical function.

Amazingly looks ordinary young man, Gould was already a master of the finger of a Harpsichordist and already know what is the Bach = mean what he is going to do with him = the man aware of his own karma.  (People became aware of their own karma on their later life —– I wonder how he found it in such early life ?)

***** PS:   Related post (following links)  J.S.Bach,  Aaaaaa~~~~~!  are highly recommended post to go. (They clearly explain what I said here.)


Baby Corn

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While taking the husk out of the corn (on the cob = maize = indian corn) I found something the addition on the bottom of it. —– They were the baby corn.    I’m not sure whether this is the way how baby corn was grow (and harvested)   Then I realized that they are just a miniature version of the normal corn = nothing else.  They are not wearing a wig for the weekend.  They carry the exactly the same task = fertilize the each grain of the corn.  Same as the human foetus having all the organs = heart to the brain, baby corn expect and prepare to become full-sized corn.  Baby corn is not a joke.  (Don’t you know, if you give enough water and the sunlight, the each sprouts will grow to full size cabbage ! —– I’m just kidding.   😀 )


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After I cooked Sakura-moch, still some Anko (Sweet red-bean paste) left in my hand.  I could finish them just eat on a piece of bread though, eat them with bread is not much different from eating “An-pan” which we can easily buy from a shop, I decided to make a Mizu-yokan which I haven’t done despite of my long-standing promise.  🙂
Basically Mizu-yokan is a kind of Jerry cake = Anko was (semi) hardened by a Jerry from a sea-weed (called Kanten / same as an Aga-aga from an eastern food shop —– we don’t use animal Jerry, it got to be made from a seaweed) (Photo left)   Dried Kanten or Aga-aga has to be boiled untill they were completely dissolved. (Photo middle)  Then, Anko was mixed into Kanten liquid and they were boiled together —– then, put them into a container and made them cool down and hardened.  (Photo right)
So, this is a Mizu-yokan.  Eat them chilled.  Made them with different densities Anko-Jerry mixture and make two-storied Yokan — if you like.  (I wouldn’t say this sample is anything successful or looks typical —– still, they filled my stomach.  😀 )

Sakura-mochi (Japanese Cherry cake)

Sakura-mochi(1)-DSC07142Sakura-mochi (桜餅) is a common Japanese sweets.  You can buy it from any Japanese sweets shop.  It is not a kind of very complicated cooking still not many people ever attempt to make it by themselves.  (May be to make Ohagi / Botamoch could be the farthest people does.)    Many years I’ve been thinking “Why shouldn’t I make it” and “I want to eat — I haven’t eaten it more than 30 years”

So, this is my attempt to make it though, I never seen how it was made neither my mother told me how.  Therefore, all I’m showing here were done by the sheer guess-work and I wouldn’t claim any authenticity in a Japanese sweet making tradition or any suggestion pretending any kind of wise man.

Sakura-mochi(2)-000From the improvised idea of Rice-cake making,  I used White Rice powder and Glutinous Rice powder half and half, because if it was pure glutinous rice it may become too sticky. (Photo left)  So, I mixed one large spoonful of each powder and one small spoonful of sugar with 3 and half large spoonful water. (Photo middle) then put a half runny mix to a dish and Micro-waved (Mid-High, 1.5 to 2 minutes)
So, the Photo left was the cooked skin of the cake. —– carefully peel it off and use it to wrap up the Anko (Sweet Red bean paste) (Photo middle) —– Then wrap the whole cake with salt pickled Cherry leaf. (Photo Right)
Sakura-mochi(4)-DSC07152Voila, here it is.  Japanese Sakura-moch.  —– Looks genuine ! (isn’t it ?) —– The taste was genuine (what else could it be !) —– (If I could steam the finished whole cake, the flavor of the Cherry leaf would have gone into the cake more.)    Considering this is the first ever attempt in my  life (in fact, I did one test run before Photo shooting) = the result wasn’t too bad.  “Well done Yoshizen” (eat two Sakura-moch made a man Fully satisfied !   😀  )  

Incidentally, the Cherry leaf was meant to give nice flavour and a looks good wrapping, and not meant to be eaten. (I hope, you didn’t try eat it with struggle. 😀 ) There is other variation of this = Kashiwa-moch (柏餅), which use an Acorn like Kashiwa’s leaf for wrapping though I couldn’t find that tree in this country.    Kashiwa-mochi was meant to be eaten on the day of the Boy’s festival (端午の節句) = 5th of May.   And the Sakura-moch was originally for the Girl’s festival (桃の節句)    (I guess) though, it became so popular, you can find them all year-long. (Nothing wrong with it.  🙂  )


PS : While giving a thought, I realized that the Kashiwa-moch must be invented first.    When you play in a Shinto shrine, you clap the hand = it called Kashiwade  (柏手).   The leaf of the tree Kashiwa has a shape of a hand, hence the hand spread the fingers was called Kashiwade, and the Kashiwade is a symbol of the honest, single-minded clean person (think it in comparison to a gripped hand which could hold a weapon and next moment it could hit you).  So, a boy’s parents wish their boy grow to a strong honest man and think the things associated with Kashiwa is auspicious.

—– So, a clever owner of the sweet shop (和菓子屋) invented a sweet wrapped in a Kashiwa leaf = Kashiwa-mochi and sold for the boy’s day’s celebration.   It must be a big hit, then they thought, if there is a sweet for boys, why not for girls as well = then Sakura-moch was made.   🙂

August Moon

August Moon   (In few days time it would be a new moon —– so, a solar eclipse is coming.)      In Japan 15th August is the Moon Festival though, in the Moon Calender, it is in the September.  But I’m not sure how many people still remember this.  —– They might be thinking more if north korean missile is coming, when they see the sky now. —— Lunatic isn’t it.


PS : The photo above which was taken by the Tamuron SP 500 mm F8 Mirror lens shows the Red and Blue fringe = it is a chromatic aberration.     This is a reputed to be one of the best 500 mm mirror lens in the history, —– I couldn’t accept such flaw in this lens = I may need to check if any loose element in the lens occurred ?   (By the way, why this photo is not as sharp as the other photo “Red Moon” is, this one was taken through the double grazed window —– Red Moon was taken while window was fully opened.  😀  )



This is a tree flower which I have deep attachment, hence I want to see more here = though, strangely she was not planted often.  Probably because people afraid of the poison of this plant.   In deed, if you feed the handful leaves to the animal (cow or goat kind) the animal would die easily = strange contradiction is, its poison (Oleandrin) has very similar effect to the poison of Foxglove (Digitalis / Digitoxin = Very strong stimulant and or poison to the heart) —– yet you can see the Foxglove everywhere even though Foxglove can kill you too.
Oleander(2)-001The reason why I feel such attachment to this flower was, she was associated with some poets who I respect, — and its poisonous nature.    When I was small, my hero was the Ninja or humanoid Robot, not a Superman kind of American comic fantasy.  So, we kids practiced how to make a rope to climb a wall or the formula to make a poison.  (still, I never heard of any accident with those poisons = Japanese got necessary knowledges —– idiot can’t be a Ninja = we kids wanted to master the real skill, not dreaming in a silly fantasy to fly a sky.)

Very remarkable fact of this plant, Nerium Oleander (夾竹桃、キョウチクトウ)is, that this plant has the will and the ability to survive while eliminating other plant with its poison.  Oleander was the plant first revived and flowered on the literally scorched ground of the Hiroshima, after that atomic bomb.   Hence, she was named and honoured as the Flower of the Hiroshima. —– (Hidden message here might not be a flowering peace but a kept poison / we never forget.)

(Those photos were taken by a homemade lens nicknamed “koda-fun lens” with or without extension ring.)

Zeiss — Who ?

Zeiss-000You may noticed that I have some Carl Zeiss lenses.   Some for the late Contax SLR, others for Sony A7, there is even a Nikon mount type as well.  (Old collection of the Hasselblad lenses are all German Zeiss, of course.)  While thinking to get new toys, I’ve checked E’bay listing.   Then, I become aware of the almost chaotic situation.   On the E’bay, many of the quite similar Zeiss lenses were listed-up.  (You can see it by yourself) = Since the Carl Zeiss is a lens manufacturer, no longer a camera maker themselves, they’ve been supplying the lenses for each cameras, such as for the  Contax or Hasselblad.  When there was the production of Contax SLR, the camera was made by the Japanese Yashica and the lenses were originally made in Germany.  (then lens production was moved to Japan — said to be to the Tomioka Optics. —– I’m proud to have my Contax lenses were all made in Germany !) 

Now a days, Zeiss is supplying the lenses to Sony and the Leiz Wetzlar is making the lenses for Panasonic Lumix camera (Leiz is making their own Leica camera while making only hand full number of them by literally hand-carving the aluminium shell and put the Panasonic inside.) (and both Zeiss and Leiz are doing well though they themselves are not making the lens at all = just giving the license. (I’m not sure even the design may not to be by Zeiss, just an agreed common computer program —– So, I wonder how the Zeiss has been survived when there wasn’t much of the Japanese business — such as after Contax business closed, but Sony business yet to be started. ) 

Considering the harsh reality that the virtually all the camera  in the world were made by the Japanese, it’s mean, if there wasn’t a Japanese business, there wasn’t any sale of even just a license. —– So, this was the back ground of Zeiss lenses’ chaos.  The Zeiss was making the lenses for the Nikon, Canon etc mount and selling them as an independent lens manufacturer (like Sigma).  As a results, there are so many almost the same but different types of Zeiss lenses in the market. (If you Google = “Zeiss lens, Ebay” you can see mountain of them.  (Though, even the same Sony E-mount, some may work, others may not and only for manual use.   And many of them were for cropped (APS-c) image size — and is not necessary high quality (made in China or Thailand) — have look the top photo left, even an iris is not symmetric round — still, this lens was sold over £600.)  —– What a hell.  Is Zeiss myth still live and exists ? —– or just a ghost ?    😦


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