Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tsukiji Fish Market

Millions of fish and seafood go to the Tsukiji fish market every morning. Thousands of people go there to buy and sell the fish and seafood. If you want to go there, you need to get up unbelievably early. The hustle and bustle starts at 4:30 am, and keeps on going until about 9:30 am. The market sells seafood of all kinds from all over the world. There are octopuses, clams, and every kind of fish you can imagine, including the blue-finned tuna which comes from Boston. It is one of the best tunas you can get, and it sells for thousands of dollars in Japan. Before the Japanese discovered it in Boston, Americans used it in cat food. If you want to buy good fish, go to the Tsukiji market.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Lost in Translation?

If you have ever tried to learn a new language, you know it is a hard thing to do. Sometimes the words just don't come out right. That's true when I try to speak Japanese! And it's sometimes true when people here write signs in English to help out people like me my family. Take a look at these signs. I figured out what they meant. Can you?

Friday, May 4, 2007

What to do at a Chanoyu (Tea Ceremony)

1. Wait and admire the garden until the person who is hosting the ceramony tells you to come in.
2. When the host tells you to, come in to the room and sit down.
3. The host will serve you some dry sweet cakes. Eat them.
4. When you're done with your sweets, the host might serve you another sweet. If she does, eat that sweet too.
5. Watch the host clean all the materials for making tea, includining the bamboo wisk (chasen), the tea scoop (chasaku) and the tea bowl (chawan). All this cleaning will take a litte while.
6. Watch the tea-maker (the host) make the tea. You will be drinking macha, a stronger version of green tea made from powder. It is frothier that regular green tea.
7. When the tea-maker serves you your tea, before you take a sip, hold the tea-bowl in your palm.
8. Turn the cup around clockwise so that the picture on the cup faces the host. This shows respect for the host.
9. Now, finally, you get to drink your tea.
10. When you are done with your tea, the tea-maker will clear your cup and clean it. She will also clean the materials for making the tea again.
11. The tea ceremony is over.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What's your fortune?

In the shrines and temples in Japan there is usually a form of omikuji, or fortune telling. At most shines and temples you either pick a fortune out of a box or you shake a stick with a number on it out of a box and the number tells you which fortune you get. But, unlike fortune cookies, the fortunes aren't always good. If you get a bad one you tie it up at the temple with all the other bad fortunes. Sometimes the trees have so many bad fortunes on them that they look like flowers! (click on the photo of the tree for a better look). I got a bad fortune, so I tied it up. Another form of omikuji that we saw at a shrine was the heavy light rock. There is a rock and you make a wish and imagine how heavy the rock is. Then you pick up the rock. If it is heavier than you imagined, your wish won't come true. If the rock is lighter than you imagined, your wish will come true. But beware — the rock is really heavy!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mil uno budas, mas de mil portillos

¿Por qué hay mil uno budas en el templo Sanjusangen-do? ¿Y por qué hay más de mil portillos en el templo shitoísta Fushimi-Inari Taisha? Cada uno tiene su historia. El templo Sanjusangen-do está aquí porque un emperador construyó mil uno budas por que tenía muchos dolores de cabeza. Creía que los budas pararían sus dolores de cabeza, y lo más budas lo menos dolores de cabeza. El templo shintoísta Fushimi-Inari Taisha es un templo para hacer crecer arroz y suerte para los granjeros. Tiene miles de portillos porque cualquier persona puede comprar un portillo para poner en el templo. Ahora, la mayoría de las personas no son granjeros, entonces personas compran unLo m portillo para tener suerte en su trabajo. Lo más portillos, lo más suerte en los trabajos.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Better than Whole Foods

Why go to the grocery store when instead you can go to the Nishiki Market in Kyoto? The market is about five blocks long and it has tons of small shops. Each shop has its specialty. There is one shop that sells only tofu. Another sells pickled root vegetables. A different one's mastered seafood. It's truly a super market.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

3,000 People

A sea of people crosses the street every few minutes at Shibuya, one of the busiest shopping and tranportation areas in Tokyo. I estimate that about 3,000 people cross the intersection every crosssing. The people are coming from twelve different directions. It is an amazing sight.