japan

Kiyomizu-Dera

Kiyo-mizu-dera Gate

Really didn’t spend as much time in Kyōtō as I wanted – but at least I got to visit Kiyomizu-dera. There are so many beautiful temples and shrines in the city that I suspect it would take a couple of weeks to see them all.

Cooked: Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

I recently got a Cusinart ice cream maker for cheap ($13!) at a local thrift shop, and it’s exciting to venture into the crazy world of ice cream making. The first recipe I made was a chai vanilla recipe I adapted from Melissa Clark’s master ice cream recipe (verdict; it was way too sweet; halving the sugar content would probably be good) but really what I wanted was to make green tea ice cream.

The recipe I used for this was JustOneCookbook‘s – found here. It’s a good thing it’s eggless, because I know many people who consume dairy but don’t eat eggs. The ice cream turned out very well – it’s not too saccharine.

Baked: Kasutera

Kasutera

When we were kids, my sister and I always looked forward to getting the Japanese cake kasutera カステラ (蜂蜜蛋糕 in Chinese) from Vancouver.

I don’t think we’ve had it since, but I finally made it! I primarily used Japanese Cooking 101‘s recipe but I also incorporated some tips from Just One Cookbook‘s version as well (most notably, the honey glaze). I have a feeling this recipe is going to be one of my go-tos when it comes to baking for groups.

Two Daikons in Meiji Japan

The Meiji Emperor's silver anniversary (by Nobukazu Yosai 楊斎延一)
The Meiji Emperor’s silver anniversary (by Nobukazu Yosai 楊斎延一)

I was reading Takashi Fujitani‘s excellent Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan when I came upon this golden anecdote of two “daikons”:

“Quite outrageously, at the time of the emperor’s silver anniversary, which was often referred to as the Great Wedding (daikon 大婚), the people of at least one neighborhood in the provincial town of Saga made a visual pun and placed a giant radish (daikon 大根) on a festival float. Forty neighborhood residents of all ages danced to the rhythms of festive music (hayashi 囃子) as they paraded to the Saga prefectural office with what would appear to be a fairly explicit sexual symbol.” (228-229)

“Comfort Women” in Californian Textbooks

The L.A. Times on the new proposal to teach the issue of “comfort women” in Californian history textbooks:

The new language on “comfort women” marks the first proposal to teach what has been a long-contentious political issue in East Asia in high school classrooms in the U.S. It has the potential to widely influence how textbooks address the topic.

The guidelines recommend that the subject of “comfort women” be taught to high schoolers “as an example of institutionalized sexual slavery, and one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.”

Personally, I hope that secondary school history teachers spend more time encouraging students to understand the complex nature of history rather than essentializing an incredibly complicated time period down to one or two paragraphs. Yes, it’s important that more Americans know about the issue, but no one’s going to get a good understanding from the small side blurbs Asian history is usually reduced to in American history textbooks. Furthermore, it ignores the long and intimate relationship wartime soldiers had with prostitution and potentially coerced sexual services.