Japan Week #04 – My Japanese Father and Organic Vegetables

2012-10-08 1:27 PM

So I’ve made friends with my neighbor. The same neighbor I posted about previously who is raising baby boars. He’s 70-something years old and his name is Ota-San. His wife who’s also very sweet is Ima (but I also call her Ota-San because of the last name-respect policy in Japan). He says he likes me and while I’m in Japan he’s my father. He can’t speak English and I can’t speak Japanese but we actually do fairly well because we both use a lot of body language naturally.

He’s also a organic farmer. When he saw us going to the market he told us to never buy vegetables at the market because they use pesticides and other farming techniques thatcompromisethe produce. He then proceeded to give me about 10Kg of organic vegetables from his farm for free. He says he has so much extra that it’s no worry. Here is a sample of some of the vegetables he gave me.

First is a Japanese squash called a Kobocha. It’s quite similar to a squash. This one was quite tasty. I’d say it was softer and more flavorful than yourtypicalsquash.



Next up he gave us some Japanese eggplant which are typically a smaller version of North American eggplant. Taste is pretty similar. The advantage is it’s already a good grilling size so less cutting is required.


He then gave me a hue bag of red and white onions with a assortment of potatoes.



Finally he gave us these peppers calledmanganjitogarashi which are sweet-hot peppers which I used to make a lunch for my work one day.


Here are some of the dishes we cooked with said vegetables.





Ota-San also gave us some rice that his friend who’s also an organic farmer made. He said even if you are growing organically locally you still have to deal with the fact the water system has impure water. So to rectify this situation they went up into a mountain and built a staircase pattern on themountainto place their rice fields (rice fields need to be flat). This allows the pure natural mountain water to run down the staircase of rice and hydrate the rice. He gave me 2 bags of rice. One smaller bag was current year rice which is the most prized rice. The other was second year rice. We cooked up the first year rice and the mostnoticeablething about it was it has a very “Clean” flavour. Also the naturalstickinessof the rice was very apparent. Even after washing off most of the excess gluten. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the rice.

I’ve been racking my brain for ways to bring something to Ota-San too. I’ve brought him some semi-organic chocolates from Vancouver. That said I tend to think about a lesson I learned in Seth Godin’s book Linchpin where the need to reciprocate can be a disease that can ruin the gift. That said I know Ota-San likes to smoke and I have a backup of menthol cigarettes in case he ever runs dry.

I’m a very lucky man. Vegetables are very expensive in Japan. I’ve had my grocery bill significantly reduced while at the same time have had the quality of the produce Ireceiveincreased greatly.


Tags: Japan living_in_japan

Japan Week #02 Danjiri Festival in Kishiwada

2012-09-19 2:39 PM

Many things have happened in Japan so I have to cut a lot of stuff out to avoid boring any readers.

This weekend we went to the annual Danjiri festival. In a ignorant nutshell it’s a large festival where all day giant heavy wooden floats pulled by hundreds of people race down streets in Kishiwada. From what I’m told people tend to die every year. I can believe it, the floats get enormous momentum and are surrounded by many people. While we were at the festival I saw no less than 10 ambulances race by. Also saw someone being dragged out who seemed to be suffering from a combination of fatigue and a sprained ankle.

If you want to know more about the festival you can check my better halfs blog about the festival as well. She is Japanese and knows a lot more about the festival than I do. You can see it here:


Here is a video I compiled from the footage I took at the festival.

Tags: living_in_japan

Japan Week #01 – Moving in.

2012-09-08 4:22 AM

It’s been one hell of a week. I’m now moved into my new place, have a bank account, have registered with the town hall and got furniture and appliances rented for my place (in Japan most apartments dont come with things like fridges). Big thanks to my lady Akari for handling most of that work, I would most likely be stuck in a corner eating vending machine food otherwise.

I live in Seika Kyoto which is about 20 mins on the train from Kyoto cit, 50 mins to Osaka and 20 mins to Nara. My place is on the edge of town and largely surrounded by rice fields. In fact right outside my balcony is a mini rice field, another larger rice field to the left and a HUGE (many sqr km’s) rice field behind my house. It’sunbelievablyquiet here. Everything turns dead silent at night and there are very few street lights so it also gets very dark. I’ve noticed that I sleep less but am much more well rested in the morning. This is most likely a direct result of the tranquility.

Here is the view from the front of my apartment and my apartment itself.



I also met one of my neighbors, I ended up talking to him because outside his house he had 2 baby boars. It turns out someone in the neighborhood had shot a mother boar and it’s 2 boarlings came back looking for their mother. He was kind enough to take in the 2 boars and said he will raise them for 2 years then release them back into the wild.

Here are the 2 little guys.


Finally it’s about 4 blocks to the train/bus station I use to go to work. This is what the walk looks like in the densenst urban portion of my town.


Tags: living_in_japan