BUDDING CHEFS

AFTER A SOMEWHAT long  winter and feeling like living in an igloo, nothing wrong with igloos mind you we did manage to spend some time at the local school with the kids who are as eager as, to learn all things new  but I think it was myself who learned the most after watching their enthusiasm and determination and displaying their skills in the kitchen…

Todays menu, tarts and pizza

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We had a game of putting the price on each tart as it came out of the oven and I think we finally reached $6.20 as the last one came out, it started at $2.50!

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a few happy hungry faces

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and to cap it all off,

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THANK YOU kids for a special day!

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NEW BEGINNINGS …..

img_3081A LOT HAS HAPPENED  since the last post, but mainly in the form of snow so apologies now if I have overdosed with too many pics of the white stuff !

First up we toasted in the New Year with a traditional brekkie ( O-sechi ryori ) consisting of, among other things, dried cod’s roe, black sweet beans and toasted whitebait, and downed with Otoso which is like a very sweet dessert wine. These are said to bring you good health and prosperity for the coming year. Funny that, in Scotland we we are given a lump of coal , some shortbread and a bottle of whisky!

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We visited the local shrine to pay our first respects….

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Interesting to see all the houses adorn their festive offerings outside their front doors

THEN IT SNOWED

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this is part of the roof and although it may look pretty, 1sq metre of 60cm snow equals 120kg and the roof on the main house is 50 sq metres (6 tons)  thats a lot of weight for the old beams to hold up. You hear so often , particularly with old people, so many deaths either they fall off the roof cleaning or are caught underneath the snow.

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img_3368img_3330uninhabitated dog house….

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good to see the builder make it in….img_3428

 

 

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shit, lost the keys

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oooops, not ours.

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Kyoto bus

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A bit of night skiingimg_3276

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a quick before and after shot

and finally a quick salute from BOSS

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TAKUAN – Japanese pickled daikon

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Pickled daikon or white radish, commonly known as Takuan, so named after a young Rinzai sect Zen priest called Takuan Soho in the 16th century is a popular accompaniment served with rice dishes. The daikon are grown all over rural Japan, seeded in late summer and harvested in the beginning of winter, then hung to dry in the late sun before being buried  in seasoned rice bran for 2 -3 months. They are then washed and sliced and are crisp yet moist to the mouth and cheer up any dinner table. Certainly a great example of food preservation over the lean winter months and can last the whole year out.

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hung out to dry

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THE INGREDIENTS for the pickle are as follows:

rice bran, salt, dried kombu seaweed. persimmon peel and sliced chilli.img_3041

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The daikon are then laid into a watertight cask and covered liberally with the seasoned bran, then the leaves, then repeated with another layer and so on.

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once complete, a lid is placed over and a  hefty stone weight thrown on top for good measure.

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then sealed and stored in a cool dark place.img_3052

See you in March sometime!!

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GETTING COLDER

SINCE THE LAST BLOG, the year end is fast approaching and with the  temperature gauge dropping dramatically everyone is running around gettind ready for the long winter ahead.

WE went from this

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to this in 6 weeks

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We have had 4 mountain bear sightings ( and I’m not talking about the ones you see at closing time on a Saturday night in Glasgow coming out of the Market Bar!) ; img_2729one even in our back yard stocking up on the persimmons before hibernation.

We also had the primary school kids marathon where we had to cheer them on with our flags

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img_2406 It was also the time to reap the late autumn harvest and our resident grumpy farmer was busy preparing the daikon for pickling and pick some mushrooms

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and stock up the woodpile

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and time to light the irori hearth

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WITH XMAS NOT TOO FAR AWAY with the help of our neighbours decided to put on a festive party for the local community and invited the school kids to come and dress the xmas tree. Boy that was fun. These kids really had the Christmas spirit, far from the commercial hype that saturates everything these days.

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BOSS was having a ball too!

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Our Xmas party was a hoot and even a visit fron Santa!

Honey roast ham on the menu

 

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Tree waiting to be lit up.

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The kids got to meet Sanata

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and toast some marshmallows!

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So its a very Merry Christmas to all and now its time for bed!

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LOOKING FORWARD TO SEE WHAT THE NEW YEAR MAY BRING

HAPPY 2017 !!

cooler days

IT HAS CERTAINLY BEEN A WHILE since I have managed to put pen to paper so to speak and a lot of things have happened here in Hanase, so I will try not to write too much and let the pics do the talking.

First of all. builder #1, Mr Happy Mountain aka Fukuyama-san finished up and builder #2 starts next week. In the previous blog I started growing my Daikon to compete with the builder’s progress, needless to say the daikon is still going strong!

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Garlic, onions, carrots and kikuna; sadly rhubarb failed.

The end of summertime signalled the start of the local school’s carnival. all parents and friends were invited and us 3 big foreigners won the tug o’ war which caused a bit of a stir. But a lovely day out.

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We were the red/pink team!

Our old kitchen was ripped out and re-installed finally.

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before

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and in between!

Autumn also heralds the new season shiitake and wild mushrooms.

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and hungry dogs

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My good friend and neighbour Stuart ran his annual Haunted house event, this year up at Hanase; last year he set a precedent of 1200 visitors around his house down in Kyoto but this time he was determined to get the people to jump in their cars and head up the mountain to his house in the hills. img_2084

All  the locals got involved and we ran food stalls outside and although with temperatures plummeting we had 3 great days of scaring the shit out of the young kids. I can’t give too much away but inside really was very scary and thanks to the Kyoto news press and Osaka TV he reached out to a broader audience.

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The local school kids came round and made Jack o’ Lanterns, proudly wearing their own handmade animal caps!

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Our good friend Goro-san the plumber is still around too….

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and a lovely shot of Sadie and Boss

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Our combustion stove is being delivered next week, not before time. This week-end its already down to 2 degrees C.

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so had the chance to bring out my chainsaw.

Lovely walks in the morning with the dog and a chance to see what the country would have been like many years ago

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All the rice has been harvested and hung to dry in the fields.

On the 10th day of each month all the local community gather ( at 8 am ) to clean around the shrine. October was our first appearance since arriving but already feeling “more local”

The Persimmon trees are abound with fruit now and jams and chutneys are on the go

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Our next project is already on the board and we are looking to make a winter wonderland with Santa’s Grotto. Should be fun.

On a final note, a local cafe owner in Osaka is appealing to the good nature of smorkers?

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NEW SHOOTS

AFTER MUCH FRUSTRATING DAYS SPENT watching the minimum progress spent on the renovations to our house, I decided to play a game: plant some vegies and see which is quicker: my daikon or the builder!!

I go and talk to my neighbour Stuart almost everyday and we compare notes on the work progress and life in Hanase in general and I must say his builders are amazing. They rock up on a Sunday morning and stay for 10 hours without so much as a peep and Stuart can now see the finishing touches being put to his lovely old house. On the other hand we had the outside dunnie demolished and the impratical country kitchen demolished ( all by Goro-san the plumber and his son) and our builder then realises, hey, we might need to organise a tiler or plasterer now to continue the process. Of course his reluctance to suggest someone or maybe he wanting to see how long we can survive living at Base Camp with a huge frickin hole in the side of the house is his game plan I don’t really know. He is about to get the red card from me, but all things Japanese lets live with the flow. Goro-san suggested his cousin, who is a plasterer, come to have a look-see and boy, we love him already! Tomorrow he starts.

Anyway, my daikon , so far, is winning.

After taking 3 days to cut and fire all the posts and fencing, then digging all the holes and laying the posts in concrete,  I finally managed to create a paddock with a fence! All the seeds have been sown ; baby spinach, kikuna, daikon, hakusai, negi, garlic, leeks and my prize rhubarb all the way from Oz.

During this time  our hapless builder did redeem himself quite a bit and ripped out all the sub-flooring in the irori room and replaced all the rotten beams which have supported the house for 120 years or so, and laid new timbers and insulation then our newly acquired old floorboards from another century. the room now looks the part!

At the end of the day we can still sit down and enjoy a cuppa!

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And don’t fpr get those lovely balmy evenings in Hanase.

End of summer

 

 

THE MARK OF the HANASE MATSUAGE ( 300 year old fire festival ) followed by the more intimate HIROGAWA MATSUAGE heralds the last few weeks of the hot summer days to be enjoyed in the mountains. As temperatures soar down in the city, we were able to appreciate the cooler 7 degree difference  and putting us  in the mood for the wonderful autumn colours that promise to come.

A little explanation on the fire festival: the torches are fuelled by the flame kept burning from the local shrine, which then ignite the 1000 or so free standing hand crafted torches . Once lit, a synomonous drum beat signifies the torch carriers to gather around the 30metre tree trunk which has been raised onto a platform and at it’s top is surrounded by a large nest of brush, straw and hinoki. The idea is for the torch-men to swing their torch and hurl it upwards and try to get a hole-in-one. Not an easy task. After 6 attempts the first torch landed into the nest and started to ignite. A much frenzied 12 minutes later , egged on by the happy onlookers, it was all over and they dropped the burning tree to the ground and the sacred rites were said and everyone went home!

Last week also saw the remnants of Typhoon #15 which blew over the top half of the mainland and on to Hokkaido. The much needed rain filled up the water tanks and with the river swollen decided to press on with the veg garden, Holes need to be dug, land needs to be tilled and beds need to be prepared and seeds need to be sowed!!

Because of the problem with wild deer eating everything in sight, all vegetation must be netted in some form or other. Our plan is to surround the garden with fencing: and to keep it in with the image of the house and walls,the idea is to singe all the fence posts and slats over a fire pit to give it that Edo look?

 

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First a path with local river bed rocks has to be layed. then 24 fencepost holes to be dug.

WITH THE WET WEATHER and the workers at bay I went down to Kyoto to pick up the timber we had purchased to use for flooring around our irori hearth. Keiko found a re-cycled timber shop ( http://www.kozai-ichiba.co.jp) which collects and sells  dismantled houses that date back from yesteryear. The timber we chose was taken from an old farmhouse at least 130 years ago.

 

Very Japanese, two young petite girls attired in flight attendant uniforms and high heels man-handled all the wood on display to find what we were looking for and fed us with copious amounts of cold tea. Well worth a visit if you need recycled wood!

A RATHER DISTURBING discovery we found was the swarm of yellow hornets nesting on the side of our Hanare, adjoining house. There are different ranks of  hornets and “ours” comes in at number 2 on the most deadly scale. But get this, and don’t laugh, but apparently, they recognise the house owners’ faces and don’t touch us!!!!… only the visitors!!

A quick call to the city council and they sent a professional up to fix the problem. With baited rag soaked in honey and poison, the honeytrap was dropped in to the nest. within 3-5 days all will die. We are told to keep the nest because it is in the best location and as long as there is a nest there no other invading  hornets, wasps / killer bees will try to move in. Also apparently these yellow hornets enlisted the help of the lower rank hornets to help build their nest and once the job was done. they would all be “executed”by the bad guys! ( reminds me of the grim tale of the clan Macdonald and Campbells of Glencoe )

Job done.

Finally, on a more pleasant note, a nice neighbourly visit fro Stuart, Yukiyo-san and Sadie-chan