Well, well, well… this blog has been laying dormant for far too long. Luckily current events warrant a revival: I’m back in Japan for 5 weeks to conduct research for my final thesis and – noone would belive me if I said I wouldn’t do this – to travel some and meet old friends again that I haven’t seen in a long time. My first stop is Tokyo and while I had prepared myself for low temperatures, I was a quite a bit surprised when I arrived at Narita Airport and saw the amount of snow laying around. Apparently, Tokyo had seen its worst snow falls since 40 years last weekend and was just beeing hit by a second heavy snow fall when I arrived. In a few hours trains started to become delayed and even stopped in parts – which shocked my unquestioned belief in the impossibility to fail of the Japanese railway system. Though, they definitely managed a lot better than the Deutsche Bahn would’ve done and I arrived at my host family nearly without delay. So I can’t really complain, to be honest And today the snow already started to melt away again, so the city is going to be back to normal tomorrow anyway. I used the day to register myself at the National Diet Library and to go for some shopping in Akihabara. It’s as colourful and loud as I had remembered it – wonderful! These are going to be 5 awesome weeks!
Today marks the beginning of the 13th Japan Filmfest Hamburg with the world premier of Black Dawn, based on the successful Japanese tv-series Gaiji Keisatsu. In the wake of the great 2011 earthquake terrorists are planning an attack on a nuclear reactor and it’s up to this special police force to stop them. The movie will be running in the Metropolis Cinema, which is one of the festival’s 4 venues. All of them are located in convinient distances to one another and considering the weather report for the next days, I’ll definitely bring my bike with me for quick trips from one cinema to the next.
The festival will go on until the 27th and I’m already planning to visit quite a few films in addition to the ones where I’m going to hold the opening speech. So if any of you would like to meet me there, just check my personal timetable below
23rd of May:
- 20.00 Black Dawn (Metropolis Cinema)
25th of May:
- 15.00 Sumire Ningyo + In Sunny Family (Metropolis Cinema)
- 17.00 About the Pink Sky (Metropolis Cinema)
- 22.00 Zombie Ass (3001 Cinema)
26th of May:
- 13.45 Children who chase lost Voices from deep below (Metropolis Cinema)
- 16.00 Sukiyaki (Metropolis Cinema)
- 18.00 Godzilla vs. Biollante (Metropolis Cinema)
- 20.15 Godzilla vs. King Ghidora (Metropolis Cinema)
27th of May:
- 10.00 Movie breakfast at the Projektor Cinema
I hope to see a lot of you in the movie theaters with me to enjoy the Japanese cinema we’re presenting this year. This year’s selection offers a broad range of different films for everyone, so if you’re interested in Japan or Japanese movies you should definitely find some film to fit your taste. Let’s enjoy the festival!
Today marks the one year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which led to the tsunami that took the lives of over 19.000 people and caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. I arrived in Japan about a month after the earthquake and stayed in this fascinating country for this whole year and even in these times I always felt welcome. In the face of all the hospitality that I received this is not much, but I give my deepest condolences to everyone, who lost loved ones due to this disaster, who lost their homes and who lost everything they possessed. Do not give up in living your life and rebuilding what you love. 頑張れ日本！
And to everyone else I can only try to raise some awareness that the problems are far from over and there is much to be done. Despite the Fukushima-centered media coverage around the world, the damage from the tsunami has probably more direct influence on the people from East Japan. If you have the time I can recommend the following two videos. One is a documentary of a Japanese, who’s coming back to his tsunami-struck hometown, while the second one is a trailer for a documentary that also deals with the life after the tsunami and has already received some international reputation.
After the Wave:
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom:
Thank you, Japan!
Nishin Soba is a typical dish from Kyoto, which consists of a soba noodle soup with sweet marinated dried herring added. As Kyoto is far from the seaside, it was hard to bring in fresh seafood from the coast, so dried herring established itself as one of the easier to transport fishes and became one of the important sources of proteine in the past.
As you can guess from this description, I ate this dish when I was in Kyoto in December, but I still wanted to put it up here, because it remained in my head. The taste of sweet herring together with a traditional Japanese soup flavour was completely new to me in that situation and at first I was a bit at a loss as to how I should judge it. But I grew to like the taste very fast and appreciate its difference to the other dishes I’ve eaten in Japan and also back in Europe (Yannik didn’t, btw. :P). For me, the subtle sweetness did fit very well with the broth and made for a well rounded meal together with the soba.
If you want to try it yourself, the following recipe might be helpful. I found it under this link and translated it for you (hopefully without mistakes :D). Enjoy your cooking!
You will need (for 4 persons):
- 400g soba noodles
- 1 sweetly cooked herring (you can either buy it or prepare it this way(scroll down))
- 1 leek
- 4 sheets of dried laver / seaweed
- 7 cups of dashi broth
- 120ml of mirin (sweet soy sauce)
- 120ml of soy sauce
- Mix the dashi broth, mirin and soy sauce in a pot and let it boil up to prepare the soup.
- Boil the soba in plenty of water until they are boiled thoroughly. Pour the water and put the soba in 4 bowls. Add the soup to each bowl.
- Add the finely cut leek, the dried laver and the herring on top. Enjoy your meal!
I bet most of you have already read or heard about capsule hotels in Japan. Those hotels, where you don’t sleep in your own room, but instead sleep in a plastic box in a room with many of those, called capsules. They usually feature a few technical amenities such as a television and the stereotypical customer is the Japanese salaryman on a business trip.
But as some of them are really cheap and can even compete with hostels, I gave it a try and stayed in a capsule hotel in Asakusa on my trip to Tokyo last week. It was located directly next to Asakusa station and from the public bath in the 8th floor, you had a really beautiful view over the Sumida River and towards the famous Asahi Building, as well as the soon to be completed Tokyo Sky Tree. So obviously I went up there every evening, went to the sauna, took a hot bath and enjoyed the sight from there.
But back to the capsules. I was actually a bit surprised how spacious those seemed to me, as I hadn’t expected to be able to sit upright in one, which was perfectly possible. Space to the sides was also no problem at, only the length would have been more comfortable had it been 5-10cm more. The way it was, my feet were constantly scratching at the curtain, which closed my capsule once I was inside. The television presented me with 10 Japanese TV channels for free every evening, so no need for complaints there as well.
And now please have a look at a few pictures :)