Daniel in Japaniel

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A Belly full of KARORI

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Tonight, after some time passing window shopping in a gigantic appendage of Umeda-eki, Osaka, I met up with Alex and Paul at the reverse hourglass (an hourglass whose sand displaces a denser gas that flips itself once the sand completely falls).

We took the 40 minute JR to Sanda, to meet back up with Renshu-san. We had another fantastic meal. Feet warmed by the kotatsu, we shared the halfway points of our journeys so far. Right now Renshu continues to help by pointing the direction to the Fudomuyouoh pilgrimage they are about to take, while I gather my thoughts on the trip to Nagasaki tomorrow.

The studying of Japanese cooking has certainly paid off, though I still learn more and more each day. If I forget everything, even everything, I will always remember the hour long marathon of whisking egg yolk for Okura-san’s ground lotus root something or other.

More than ever, each experience has taught me that if i want to control my life, the simplest thing to do is let go and let things take you.

Perhaps I feel like the Umeda hourglass, or perhaps it’s simply the “calorie saving” cocktail soda’s Renshu-san has been supplying Alex, Paul and I each night.


Written by Daniel

November 16, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Posted in shoujin ryouri

A Change of Class

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Right now I am writing from Sanda (三田), a once rural area turned commuter populace. Sanda is a 40 minute train ride outside of Osaka. Previously, when I was at Hokyoji, I had met with the kitchen staff, a trio of middle-age Japanese women who tour the Kansai area in their spare time. Thinking I would never see them again, I waved good bye and left them and my experiences behind at the monastery. As luck would have it, I ran into Renshu and the crew again when the ABS program visited Ryogonji temple for the Abbott installation. There Renshu offered up her house, if I ever needed a place to stay.

Sanda, though a suburb, is actually a gorgeous area. The colors and architecture for some reason trigger this Milwaukee-Boston feel. Perhaps that’s the old generation mixed with fall colors at work on my own anecdotal psyche, but still- it’s quite a different feeling from what I’ve known in Kyoto. It’s possible the week long marathon of reading has worn me out too though.


With the end of the in class portion of my study abroad program, I found the much needed time for my research. Sadly- made my days rather boring. Since monday, I spent a good 8 hours plus reading and taking notes from zen texts, journals and books on Japanese cooking. In hopes not to tire the subject, it’s enough to say I was happily preoccupied with the kind of independent study that I value.

A good deal of my time was wasted, though, worrying over registration for spring semester course. Dawson saved me in the end, representing me at the campus. If you see him, you must hug him for me.


 I registered for: Faulkner, Introduction to Astronomy, East Asian Culture, Upper Intermediate Japanese, the Modern Novel from 1832, and the standard music lessons (Mandolin and Cello)


To mark my first day of traveling, I journeyed not to far to Uji, an old town known as the birthplace of the Tale of Genji, as well as Shoujin-Ryouri. My friend Kanako, an Ujian, was nice enough to give me a walking tour of the sites.


I have some great pictures of all this, however, as I am using Renshu’s computer, I don’t really have access to my photos.


So for now until Monday morning, I will be staying in Sando with Renshu. Today we met with her friend and cooked up some lunch. Maybe I’ve missed a home cooked meal, but the food destroyed that of any I have. I keep arriving at this same place: the next meal is always better. There is perhaps a philosophy in there, I’m a little too tired to pull it out though. We then picked up some food for tonight, maybe some yakisoba and nabe. We also stopped by the local library to look into simple mainstream recipes of Shoujin-Ryouri.


Tomorrow is a rendezvous with her old friend, a graduate of the Tsuji school of cooking. This chef owns a little known restaurant in Sanda that specializes in Kaiseki-Ryouri (traditional cooking) and is only open 3 days a week. The other four days are spent making the materials necessary for such a labor intensive cuisine. She has been kind enough to teach Renshu and I how to make Goma-tofu (a classic sesame batter tofu dish), and share lunch with her.


There is much more to be said about my recent experiences. Sadly though, as the research period picks up, so does my time on the move.


I’ll end here. I hear the sounds of a home: clinking silverware, opening refrigerators, and the crinkle of bags of groceries.

Written by Daniel

November 14, 2008 at 8:32 am

Posted in shoujin ryouri