Tag Archives: okayama

Snap: Tsuchida neighbourhood canals

Btw, our neighbourhood (walking back from trash drop-off point) / the canals are quite full! Rainy season lasting long in Tsuchida, Okayama, Japan this year #monsoon
~
PS #LivingInAMiyazakiMovie

Diary: Choosing a Tree from City (for baby)

Our local city government of Okayama has a splendid program which offers us a choice of tree sapling upon significant life events, including wedding and birth of child. As we’ve accomplished both now, we get a second tree. Hooray. 

(As you likely know, selected a Peach / Momo for wedding, picked it up from a park and blossomed this spring around when John Prine passed). 

The choices include Japanese maple, dogwood (provincial tree of BC), and a few others. We ticked the box for “peach” (which are the “famous item of the area” and mailed in the postcard and will await instructions to pick up to add to our burgeoning orchard of fruits here at Tsuchida Cottage. 

Kitchen: Variety of pork, sashimi, soup and sauces

Katsuo no tataki / bonito tuna sashimi served with with onions, green onions, shiso leaf and lemon

I suspect you eat food, likely more than once per day. While I dabble in many mediums of art, the kitchen has never been a place of creative comfort for me however… I’m working to add a few new skills to my repertoire, as well as watching the unique techniques take a bus out for some traditional Japanese favorites.

Also, paying attention to the importance of plating and presentation and choosing an interesting variety of dishes when serving – I’m probably better at this part than in the preparation but hey, one revolution at a time.

As such, very little in the way of annotations or details, or quality of photos for that matter, just evidence of living life at such a cottage.

The results are sort of a hybrid of Japanese and “western“ dishes, and usually served rather Japanese-style meaning lots of little plates as we sit at usually a low table on a mat to enjoy the creations.

snack plate with fruits and maple syrup for coffee/tea

While life is still exciting and new here, I occasionally remember to take a snapshot of things prepared, most of the time I don’t, but sometimes I do, and since I did, i’ll share with you. There are loads of these round-ups elsewhere in this archive if curious. 

impromptu smoker in the kitchen / chips in foil in a pan, pork meat on grill above / worked so good

Continue reading Kitchen: Variety of pork, sashimi, soup and sauces

Kitchen: Snapper (tai) and/or Wagyu (beef)

Ryoko and a Tai fish (snapper) as gift from Uehara-san / they raise rabbits and veggies / so kind!

+ Dinner choices (& results) at Tsuchida Cottage with Snapper (Tai) or Wagyu (beef) +

Amongst all the goodness in our lives with the wonderful baby, we’ve received some treats. Some are part of Japan’s “summer gift” tradition, others specifically for the baby (so many to document, will get to them eventually) and some because folks are nice and adore Ryoko. 

In this case, we received a box of luxurious premium wagyu beef and a whole tai (snapper) fish / the combo of the 2 provided several fantastic meals as you might expect. 

Because i am grateful and obsessive, i present documentation. 

Dave amazed that a box of remarkable wagyu (so expensive in other countries) beef just “showed up” by courier at the house / from Yusasa-san! thanks
1/ cooked the beef with parents yakiniku (fried meat) style on a table top grill with various garden vegs and dipping sauces and salts

Continue reading Kitchen: Snapper (tai) and/or Wagyu (beef)

Kitchen: Brief guide to salt fermented pickles

For the record, these are salt fermented though i did a couple with vinegar and sugar which are great too. the salt does some kind of magic anaerobic fermentation creating pro-biotic goodness. The taste is clean and simple with the veggie taste and texture intact.

Basically:

chop up whatever veggies i have (in this case, carrots and daikon and onion)

stuff in a sanitized (not really sterilized) jar (stashed in hot water for a while on stove and handled with tongs)

toss in a garlic/onion and a bay leaf (there’s an enzyme which helps the crispyness)

top off with brine (basically 2 Tbps of non-iodized salt to 1 litre/quart water)

fill to top and/or put a cabbage leaf or something on top to push the veggies below water line

stash em in dark place for a few weeks, months – will be fizzy when ya open up

after open, stash in fridge.

there’s all sorts of complications you can add to the process but i am a simple boy. have done a load of batches now and all turn out decent. mild, clean, crispy.

and yes, someone has already sent me the Portlandia “pickle that” clip. thanks.

Diary: Immigration office residence card + “life admin” update

Gone “outside the fence” > hitting up immigration office with FiL / hoping for 3 years zairyu/resident card extension in Okayama.

Outfit:

* 1 for safety
* 1 for sensitivity
* 1 for style

Update: 3 years success! (+ felt like 3 years waiting in non-AC, non-organized, non-clean, non-efficient, no lights-on w/ weird posters taped to the wall, yellowed Christmas decoration, nonsensical anti-drug propaganda, sweaty room) #Grateful #ButSeriously #Crowded #Smelly #Japan

Note: Hat was $5 in Kathmandu, shirt custom made (my design) in Chiang Mai, fancy specs discount in Vegas, trousers (not pictured) uniqlo

Next up: Japan Seeking “Official” Translator

Doing CDN citizenship paperwork for new baby Ichiro & need an “official translator” for birth certificate & family register for embassy / Requires notarization.

i.e. Seeking simplicity (i.e. someone *experienced* with the process & no hassles)

Diary: Stroll to Grandpa Ichiro’s ohaka juuust before…

Ryoko gives Grandpa Ichiro’s grave a clean with a wooden ladle

{Catching up with…} evidence of a stroll on June 21st as we were waiting for baby Ichiro to make his appearance (he was “due” on the 18th but whatever) so, as we often have done during the pregnancy – and related timing of erstwhile pandemic – we took a stroll up to grandpa Ichiro’s grave here in Tsuchida neighbourhood in Okayama, Japan.

Lighting some incense at Grandpa Ichiro’s grave

While there, we give it a clean, fresh out the flowers, light some incense and have a conversation with him. In this case, mention if the baby was coming and if he has any pull in the situation, to keep an eye on us.

Thanking about grandpa dying at 49 and waiting here for so long
Ryoko has some words and thoughts for the Grandpa (who she never met)
2 days later, his namesake grandson was born and 10 days later, his widow Tomiko passed away (45 days from then, her ashes will be added to the ohaka)

Turns out, the walk was fortuitous as our wonderful baby came along healthy and happy on the 23rd and share his name with his grandpa (same pronunciation but different kanji characters – more on this another time). 

Probably our last snaphot as a family of just 2

Note: baby Ichiro was born 2 days later and Grandpa Ichiro’s widow Tomiko passed away on July 1st and after 45 days will join him in the ohaka. 

Memo: post updated July 17th from events on June 21st and back-dated.

See also:

Kitchen: pickle jars & exciting times

Another jar of pickles / fermented for 6 weeks and opened today #carrots (no, baby still waiting inside Hotel Ryoko)

not really peanut butter (obv) but a handy jar in our lil kitchen at Tsuchida Cottage

Exhibit: Michal Korman, paintings and global gathering

{In what seems like an entirely different lifetime}, in early March we went to the seaside village of Setouchi for an exhibit of paintings by wonderful youthful artist, Michal Korman – originally from Slovakia and mostly based in Paris but he’s wandering soul – going places to draw inspiration from “set piece” scenes created in a charming bright and evocative style. 

Note: The exhibit was organized by the effervescent Yoshida Yoshioka-san, A wonderful calligraphy artist with unique style who you may have met previously in this archive. (Also worth noting she shares a  kanji character for her name with my dear Ryoko but of course and obviously, a different pronunciation – Japanese is like that.)

Anyhow, I quickly realized Michal was a kindred spirit and we enjoyed barrages of convos and sips of tea in between him being whisked away to greet more and more people and i managed a bit of translation for him and his LOVELY MOTHER who brought back flashbacks of my dear late Mom supporting my endeavours. 

Dude speaks half a dozen languages, has travelled here in there and has an interest, again obviously, in culture, scenes and emotions. 

His art is crafted diligently, deliberately and carefully and thoughtfully (contrasting in this respect to my own technique of wild brushstrokes and barely tamed chaos) mixing techniques including pointillism (in a way) like Georges Seurat with scenes that somehow seem Renoir-ish and daring fauvist contrast of Matisse and controlled unmudded/mixed colour suggesting modern pop artists like Haring or ole Andy. 

Anyhow, I noticed this painting of a Kyoto garden with a bridge and well,… I felt strongly that this painting should remain in Japan as it instantly evoked feelings of van Gogh’s remixes of Hiroshige plus Hokusai prints we’d seen at his museum a while back. 

I wasn’t packing a big wad of cash, and the amount wasn’t readily available from a machine or by bank transfer so, with a calligraphy pen and the wrapper from a bar of fancy chocolate, I wrote up a contract – which was duly duly witnessed by another exceptionally interesting community ringleader at the gig (i know his name as well… really… ummm).  I duly made a down payment on site by PayPal (which required him setting up/resurrect in his account) and we had a deal. Hooray!

So we picked up “Warm Autumn night in Kyoto” from his hotel a couple days later as he rushed to the train station > airport amongst an avalanche of fond goodbyes from his well-wishers.

While this painting seemed absolutely and immediately perfect, there were several others – really all of them – which were very tempting. Certainly any wise collector will be eager to get their hands on one of his masterful, nuanced and whimsical originals.

This fine gentleman ^ (umm i know his name…) saying a song and so then Ryoko did one as well – she selected a Chinese song with references back to a plant which appears in one of the paintings. Yep, she’s clever like that.

As is our custom, Ryoko and I gifted Michal with some various postcard treats of original art that we had brought along. He was very gracious about our offerings.

Michal himself shared tender sentiments from the event: 

One month ago the ” Inner Garden” Show held in Setouchi City Museum of Art! I’m still so moved by memory of this wonderful event, new friendships with all the marvellous supporters and helpers, all this thanks to amazing artist Yoshiko Yoshida and the great members of the friendship committee from Okayama-shi and beyond! Thank you dear friends for offering me and my mother such a wonderful time in your company, thanks for the hard work.

Worth nothing that Michal headed to Osaka after this event for another exhibit (minus the painting now hanging in our genkon) then to Sri Lanka for a commission, and then had a perilous journey bumping full-on into the pandemic/ quarantine situation when arriving in Europe which involved in walking across borders and being sequestered in strange places with no art supplies and the like.

Ryoko and 2 watercolours by MIchal Korman

Regardless, with his cheery disposition position and intrepid spirit, he organized a little Instagram contest (spoiler: i won!) to score his watercolours. 

The paintings safely arrived (despite various postal restrictions) and will soon hang (once safely framed) in Ryoko’s “Kimone” office where she does her work for arborist/garden design business.

Find Michal at Michal-Korman.com and follow his work via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – by doing so, you’ll see that he seems to be settled back into to “work mode”. Nice to see ya pal!

Diary: Immigration, Espresso, Photobooths

May 21: Time to extend visa/zairyu (foreign resident) card – form is simple and the quick/cheap photo booths everywhere make process extra handy / dropping off tomorrow morn when Okayama immigration office is least busy (and most likely to be most clean). #japanlife ‬

May 28: (delayed) Rocked immigration office for Zairyu card extension (hopefully 3 years) so hit up a secret import corner at mall right at opening time – alas best peanut butter stash a no-go but espresso & gelato break kinda making up for it #outsidethewall

Details: We were first ones at the immigration office at 9:05 this morning, they did temperature check, various signins etc.… The form we filled out was *somehow* not the right one and we filled out another one on the spot, handed in passports, current residence (zairyu) card, photos etc. etc. and five minutes later were on our way with a stamped receipt inside the passport. We addressed a postcard on site which they will mail when it’s time for us to come back to do the next step, at which point we need to buy a special excise stamp for ¥4000. Hoping this will be issued for three years.

Then, stopped at a photo booth for yet another set of instant photos for a “my number“ card for government services of different kinds. Is a slightly different sized photo (of course) but got it snapped, cut out, glued onto the application and into the mailbox with the prepaid envelope. All this life administration stuff! Hooray!