Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eel anyone?

Welcome back to JJNN.
Today's article is from the Yomiuri Online.

Eel cooked with a sweet sauce
Doesn't that look good? In my opinion, there is nothing better on a hot summer day, especially if I am feeling drained of energy, than eel cooked in that way over rice. It tastes good and never fails to give me my energy back. I know to most people a meal of eel does not sound that appetising, but when it is cooked correctly it is amazing. Also, there is also a day that is usually at the end of July, called "doyou ushi no hi," in which eel is the food of choice. This all brings us to the picture below:

Japanese Eel Egg
As the caption says, that picture is the egg of the type of eel that can be found in the oceans around Japan. So, what is the big deal about eel eggs? Well, up until a few weeks ago no one knew where the eels actually went to lay their eggs.

Back in 2009 a group from Tokyo University were lucky enough to find 31 of the eel eggs. There were no more breakthroughs into the eel egg mystery until the 29th of last month. The same team found 147 of the eggs on the West Mariana ridge. That would normally not mean much, because tides move things rather quickly in the ocean but some of the eggs were just laid, leading the team to believe they have finally found where the eels lay their eggs. Hopefully this discovery leads to more eel production and a lower price. I love me some eel, but it is just too expensive now.

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 鰻(うなぎ). It is pronounced unagi and it means Japanese eel.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beating the Heat with Chilled Rice Meals

Welcome back to JJNN.

Today's article is from MSN news.

There are a lot of ways to keep cool. There is always going to a pool, going to a mall to steal the air conditioning, or even eating some ice cream. Personally, I am trying to stay away from ice cream, because I find that once I eat ice cream just once I crave it every day until the end of the summer.

So that leaves me going to the mall and looking for something else to eat that will cool me down. Luckily there is a new trend in Japanese restaurants in which they are serving chilled rice meals. The Japanese version of the restaurant chain Denny's came up with a winning combination when they made a chilled rice and mackerel soup. Normally a meal is considered popular if it sells 10 times in a single restaurant in a day, but the soup (seen below) apparently sells more than double that amount.

Chilled Rice and Fish Soup
I don't want to turn this into a commercial for Denny's or anything, but there is a lot of good that comes out of that meal. For one, it cools the person that eats it down. That goes without saying, but it also only has about 460 calories (less than a medium sized plate of pasta) and has an effect on the body similar to non‐digestible oligosaccharides. In other words, the body's reaction to the chilled rice is slowed down when compared to normal rice and the secretion of insulin is also slowed down, which makes it harder for the body to produce fat. Sounds good to me.

The article ends with a recipe for a chilled rice meal so I figured I would pass it on to you. You will need 100 grams of chilled rice, 1/6 of a block of tofu, 1 slice of pan-fried pork, one piece of okra, one package of ochazuke mix and 150ml of ice water.
1) Cut the fried pork up into 5mm squares and cut up the okra into small pieces.
2) Let the tofu get a little dry before breaking it up and mixing it with 1.
3) Quickly wash the chilled rice and place in a blow. Place 2 on top of the rice and put the ochazuke mix on top of that. Add the ice water and you are finished.

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is ご飯(ごはん). It is pronounced gohan and it means rice.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chimpanzee and Mimicry

Welcome back to JJNN.

Today's article is from the Yomiuri Online.

For years it has been said that chimpanzees in the wild have the ability to mimic each other, but that has never been tested scientifically. That is, until now. A team from Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute along with a team from Oxford University have set up an experiment to see if chimpanzees will actually mimic each other in an laboratory environment.

The experiment is simple. It used two chimpanzees, a mother and son pair named Ai and Ayumu respectively. The researchers set up two stations with two monitors each. The stations are separated by 2 meters (6.6 feet). One of the chimpanzees would press a button on there screen (the buttons are separated by color or by symbol) and the other chimpanzee would watch that and push the same button on their monitor. They did this 78 to 87 percent of the time.

The chimpanzees at their stations.
It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 霊長類(れいちょうるい). It is pronounced reichourui and it means primate.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Don't Think This is the Natural Habitat.

Welcome back to JJNN (for the second time today.)

Today's news story comes from the Yomiuri Online.

Imagine this. You work in a small school. It's the 4th of July and you come to work early despite it already being  oppressively hot to find a weird smell coming from the pool  area of the school. You walk to the pool and find a total of 30 dead bluegill fishes floating in the pool.

That is exactly what happened in a small town called Kurate in Fukuoka prefecture. But, that's not the worse part. The same thing happened the next day, only with 40 bluegills. How could the same thing happen two days in a row? Well the fact that pool is outside helps. The pool itself is surrounded by a two meter tall chain link fence with a lock on the door, but there is no roof, so who ever decided to pull this off just threw the fish over the fence with enough good aim so they landed in the pool.

Well, I don't what else to say about this one. The police are looking into it, but, personally, I think this is just a damn good prank. It would be terrible to be one of the students that like to swim because the swimming pool was suppose to open on the 4th.

Imagine seeing a total of 70 dead versions of this in your pool

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is プール(ぷうる). It is pronounced puuru and it means pool.

Soba and Time

Welcome back to JJNN

Yet again today I feel a lot like translating old Japanese stories. This one is called Toki Soba (Time and Soba) and is an old rakugo story. I got the original Japanese from:


Time and Soba (Toki-soba)


During the Edo period in Japan there were soba carts that were known as two-eights. They were known as two-eights because one bowl of soba cost (2 times 8) 16 mon (mon was the unit of currency that was used during the Edo era).

One evening, as happens many evenings in the big city, a man comes up to one of the many soba selling carts.
“Oh good! Soba.”
“What kind of soba do ya got? Hmm... You have both the hot and cold soba. I think I will go for the hot soba because I need something to warm me up on such a cold night as this.”
“Coming right up.”
“How’s business?”
“It’s not going very well now.”
“Really? That’s great.
“What? I said it’s not going very well.”
“That’s great though. If someone has good luck, they will soon find their luck has turned bad. The same goes for people with bad luck, it will soon change for the better. That is how the world works. Don’t worry. It is called business because it keeps you busy after all.”
“I guess you are right. I will have to remember that.”
“I love your cart’s lantern. It displays your shop’s symbol so prominently. Your shop does have a great symbol. An arrow hitting a target has a lot of meaning. I have a feeling that you are going to make a lot of money tonight. I think I will come looking for your symbol again another night as well.”
“Thank you very much. Here is your soba.”
“What? You already cooked it? I wish all soba carts were like this one. I am very impatient so when I have to wait I get mad. If I don’t get my soba soon after I order it I don’t feel like eating it any more.”

The man just kept on talking.

“Oh! Look at these chopsticks! I love this place. Most soba places use chopsticks that have already been used by other customers. I don’t want to use chopsticks like that, especially if the tips are still wet! No thank you! This place is nice...

“This is a nice bowl. A nice looking bowl helps keep the customers more hungry. It makes the soba look all the more delicious. This soup smells good. You used a lot of fish stock in the soup, didn’t you? It must have been hard to make a soup as good as this one. You’re a good cook if you can get a flavor as good as this. Most two-eight's soups are far too salty. I eat at a lot of places but this is just good.

“Man, these soba noodles are thin. This is just how the noodles should be! Some times I come across shops that sell soba noodles as thick as udon (another type of Japanese noodle). It’s not like I am going to a soba shop as a replacement for a good bowl of rice, just as a light snack. That is why soba noodles have to be thin.

“This is the first time I have had such delicious soba! I am not just making this up or anything! Oh! Look at this chikuwa (tube shaped fish-paste cake). It’s so thick! Are you OK? Are you sure you can cut the chikuwa this thick and still make a profit? There are places that pass off a wheat-gluten bread for chikuwa. I hate that. That type of food is for sick people. This is the real thing.

“Man, this soba is great. I have never eaten better soba in my life. But, I just ate some disgusting soba at another stand and just came here to get the bad taste out of my mouth. I don’t think I can eat any more tonight.”

“I understand, sir”

“How much is it?”

“Including all the toppings, it is 16 mon.”

“I only have small change, so please put out your hand and I will put my money in your hand.”


“16 mon, right? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8... What time is it?”

“Hmm, it’s 9.”

“10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16... Good bye!”

The man got up and walked away.

Another man, who had come earlier to eat some soba, had seen the whole proceedings.

“What the hell. That guy sure could talk. As soon as he got the to soba cart he started talking and he didn’t stop until he left. Couldn’t he just shut up and enjoy the soba?”

The man thought back about the experience.

“The man started out with saying that he was cold and needed to warm up. It’s not like it’s the soba cook’s fault its cold. Then he asked about business. The cart owner said business wasn’t going so well, but that guy said that was good because luck changes, or something like that. He also said something about how business keeps people busy. Then he went on about how he loved the cart’s symbol and how he thought the owner of the cart was due to make a lot of money. He talked way too much. He went on about the chopsticks, the bowl, the soup and even the chikuwa. With how much he talked, I thought that he was going to get up and run away before he paid the bill, but he did pay the bill.

“I thought it was going to make for a more interesting night! Damn it! There has to be something. Let me think it over again. First, the man asked how much the soba costs. Why would he ask that? Everyone knows its 16 mon. He said he only had small change so he would put the change into the owner’s hands. But, the way he was counting out the money was almost like a kid would do. He counted to 8 and than asked what time it was. The owner told him and he continued to count. Something is off! Why did he ask what time it was? Why would he do that while he is paying the bill?

“I know something is off! He asks the price, he is told it is 16 mon and he starts to count it out. When he gets to 8 he asks the time. He is told that it is 9 and he keeps counting. Why does he ask the time? What a second! He asks the price and is told it is 16 mon and he starts counting. When he gets to 8 he asks the time and is told that it is nine, but he starts counting again from 10! I knew he was cheating the owner! He is paying one less mon for the soba than he should! Damn that guy is good! I will have to try this myself!”

The man didn’t have enough small change to do the trick that night so he had to go home that night. During the next afternoon he got enough small change and left early to find a soba cart.

“Hey! Soba cart! How many times do I have to yell for you? I have been chasing after you. What types of soba do you have? Oh, you have the hot soba and the cold soba. Well I will go for the hot soba. It’s cold so I need something to warm me up.”

“What? It’s actually warm today.”

“Hmm... You’re right. Today is warm. Yesterday night was cold.”

“Yeah. Yesterday night was very cold.”

“How’s business?”

“I actually have a lot of people that visit me every night for my soba, so things are going well.”

“Really? (Damn it! I can’t say what that other guy said!) But, you can’t let your guard down! If you have good luck it will soon turn bad. If you have bad luck, it will soon turn good. That is how the world works. Don’t worry. It is called business because it keeps you busy after all.”

“You’re right. I will keep that in mind.”

“I think you understand what I am trying to say. Oh, look at your cart’s lantern. You have a nice symbol on it. It’s an arro... Err... No it’s not. It is a circle around the Chinese character for grandson (In Japanese that can be read the same as a word that means the “total loss of money”). What? Was this cart originally owned by your grandfather? What a... good name. I have a feeling you are going to make a lot of money tonight.

You know I am very impatient. I want to see what I ordered in front of me soon after I order it. If I don’t see my food soon... I guess it doesn’t really matter. A good person from Edo needs to know how to wait. But, no! You’re making me wait here! Where is my soba?”

“I’m so sorry. I ran out of hot water so it is taking more time than usual to make your soba. But, don’t worry, I just finished.”

“OK! Finally soba! Oh! Look at these chopsticks. I love this place. Most places have chopsticks that have already been used. I don’t want to use chopsticks that other people have used. Especially ones that are still wet. This place... Hey! These chopsticks are used! Well, I guess it’s not such a big deal.

“The number one rule for soba shops is that they have to have a good looking bowl. A good looking bowl makes people want to eat more soba because the soba looks so good in the bowl in the first place. I have never seen a bowl like this in any other soba place... This bowl is disgustingly dirty! It’s also cracked! How does the soba stay in the bowl? I guess the bowl doesn’t really matter if the soba tastes good.

“This smells great. It smells like you used a lot of fist stalk in your soup."

He drinks the soup and wants to spit it up again, but stops himself barely.

“Put some more hot water into my soup please. This has a strange flavor. I have eaten salty soba soup, but I have never eaten bitter soba soup. Well, you know what they say; the most bitter medicine is the most effective. This soup is probably good for my health or something.

“I like my noodles thin. I have seen some shops that sell soba that is as thick as udon, but it’s not like I come to soba shops to eat a full meal. Thin noodles are the best. I hate thick noodles... Hey! These are way too thick! Isn’t this udon? No? It’s soba? I see... It almost looks like the neck vein of a person with beriberi. It’s going to be hard to eat with that image in my head, but I guess I will try any way. Gah! It’s been cooked too long. It’s almost like an udon snake. Well, I have a weak stomach, so this is probably perfect for me...

“Hey, where is the chikuwa? I can’t find it. You did add chikuwa to my soup, right? Ah! There it is. How did you cut it so thin? Did you use a plane? What? You did it with a knife? Really? You’ve got some real skills. I once ate at a soba place that tried to pass off wheat-gluten bread for the chikuwa. I hate that! What’s this? This isn’t chikuwa! It’s that wheat-gluten bread! I don’t believe this place...”

He finishes eating.

“How much does it come to?”

“Including everything that would be 16 mon.”

“I only have small change so put out your hand and I will put the money into it.”


“16 mon, right? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8... What time is it?”

“It’s 4.”

“5, 6, 7, 8, 9...”

And he ended up paying too much for his soba.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Dancer's Fan

Welcome back to JJNN.

I decided to translate another Japanese story today. The story orginally comes from Enjoy.

The Dancer’s Fan

A long time ago in Kyoto there was a famous dance instructor who has many students. One of his favorite students was a girl by the name of Yukie. Yukie absolutely loved to dance and practiced her dancing hard every day.

Every time Yukie came to the dance school she would bring her dancer’s fan. A dancer’s fan is a folding fan that is bigger than a normal folding fan and is usually covered with beautiful drawings. Yukie’s fan was given to her by her father and the design was made by a very famous artist. As you can imagine, Yukie’s fan was very beautiful, with a drawing of a singular cherry blossom at the peak of its beauty.

Yukie spent a long time practicing every day with her fan, but one day, for some reason, she forgot her fan at the dance school. The dance instructor, when he noticed the fan for the first time, thought that it was strange that Yukie would forget her favorite fan. He decided to just give it back to her the next day when she came back for dance practice.

The strange thing was, the next day Yukie didn’t come to dance practice. She didn’t come the day after that or even the day after that. The dance instructor was getting worried about Yukie so he picked up her fan and gave it a good looking over. He was shocked to see that the drawing on the fan changed from a singular cherry blossom to many cherry blossoms filling up the entire span of the fan.

At that moment the dance instructor’s friend, a fortune teller, came and paid him a visit.

“Welcome, my friend. Here, take a look at this. One of my students forgot this here. Isn’t it beautiful?” he said passing the fan to the fortune teller.

“It’s beautiful... But, I’m sorry to say that these flowers will not last until the end of the day.”

After the fortune teller left, the dance instructor found himself worrying about what he was told about the fan. As he looked at the fan he found himself getting more and more drawn in by its beauty. He only came back to reality when is wife came into the room and told him that his dinner was ready. He had no idea how much time actually passed as he was looking over the fan.

The dance instructor stood up, still holding the fan, and he was surprised to see a couple of pale pink flower petals fall from the open fan. Even though there was no wind the petals flew up and danced in the air before disappearing into the darkening sky.

“What sort of magic is this?” said the instructor dumbfounded. He looked down at the fan and gave out a shocked yell when it saw that the fan, which before had a drawing of beautiful flowers, was not completely blank.

“Something must have happened to Yukie!”

The instructor ordered a carriage and hurried on to Yukie’s house. As soon as he got to her house the door opened and Yukie’s mother came out.

“My daughter has just died. Please come to view her body,” said her mother.

As they walked into the room the instructor found his breath taken away by shock. Yukie was lying in the middle of the room, as if she was sleeping, and she was surrounded by the cherry petals that have come out of the fan.

The end

Friday, July 1, 2011

Non-news day

Welcome back to JJNN

Today I am in the mood for translating so I decided to translate a traditional Japanese story called Manju Kowai. Below is my translation. Enjoy.

Manju are scary

Manju are Japanese sweet buns that go well with green tea
Originally taken from:

One night at a local inn and bar a group of men came together for a drink. They decided it would be fun telling each what they are scared of.

“I’m afraid of snakes. I can’t stand they way they move.”

“I don’t like tanuki because they can change form into monsters.”

“I hate spiders. I can’t stand their sticky webs.”

“I can’t stand bats. I don’t trust things the fly around at night.”

“I simply hate caterpillars. They are always hiding on the underside of leaves.”

“As for me, I don’t like ants. The fact that they move in a long line like that is creepy.”

As everyone was telling what they were afraid of, there was but one man that remained silent.

“Come on, Matsu! What are you afraid of?”

“Afraid? I’m not afraid of anything.”

“Not even snakes, spiders or ghosts?”

“Nope. Not even close to scared of those things. You should wrap a snake around your head to cool yourself down when you get a headache. When a tanuki jumps out at you as a ghost you should drag it to a river, clean it up real good and present it to your friends. You should stir up your natto with the legs of any spider you come across. You should use bats as an umbrella. You should poke a stick into a caterpillar and make it into a toothbrush. ”

Suddenly the man stopped talking.

“What’s wrong?”

“I remembered there is one thing I am afraid of.”

“Well, come out with it! What are you afraid of?”

“I . . . I’m afraid of manju.”

“Manju? Is that some sort of animal?”

“No! I am talking about the sweet! I get sick just thinking about them.”

Matsu’s face started getting paler and paler.

“Ah! I feel terrible after thinking of those things! I am going to go for a sleep in the other room.”

Matsu ran into the other room and jumped into a futon.

All the other people had a really good laugh when they saw what happened to Matsu. They all agreed they wanted to play a trick on him.

They all ran into the city and bought up every manju that they could find. Everything from manju made from Japanese rice wine to manju made from buckwheat and even manju used for funerals.

They brought all of those manju together and put them on a tray. One of them snuck into Matsu’s room and put them next to him. They all then laid back and waited for the fun to happen.

“Hey! Matsu! Wake up! It’s time to go.

“OK. I’ll get ready, but promise me you won’t say anything more about manju!”

“What ever you say. We won’t say another thing.”

That is when they heard Matsu yell.

“Oh no! Manju! My room is filled with manju!”

Everyone in the other room was laughing at the little trick they played.

“Ah! How did this happen! You promised me! I’m so scared of manju!”

The more Matsu yelled the more the others laughed.

“Ah! Rice wine manju! So scary!”

“Ah! Chestnut manju! I can’t believe this!”

“Ah! These manju are so yumm. . . scary!”

The other’s figured out something when wrong with there little prank so they looked into Matsu’s room.

“You look so happy eating all the manju that we bought. Come on, Matsu. What are you actually afraid of?”

“At the moment I am afraid of hot green tea.”

Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting in Japan

Welcome back to JJNN.

Today's article is from

How many of you guys enjoy a good sit down to watch TV every now and again. I know I have a lot of shows that I like to watch on a regular basis and I get a little grumpy if I can't watch them. Unfortunately, starting next month there might be a lot of people that might not be able to watch TV any more.

Here in Japan the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) have decided that they don't want to have any more analog broadcasts any more starting on the 24th of next month. From that day on they will switch to Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting (TDB). In other words, it is a digital signal that is not transmitted by a satellite but from a transmission tower on the Earth.

That’s fine because it will give everyone a new, higher quality version, of all their favorite TV shows. But, as with most things, there is a drawback. There are a lot of people that have yet to upgrade their TVs or get a digital tuner box for their home. Which, of course, means that from the 24th of next month they will not be able to watch TV any more.

At the end of May, 510 thousand homes without the ability to watch TDB. The bright side is that now there are only 335 thousand homes unable to get TBD. Within the number is also the number of houses unable to get the signal because they live in the shadow of a tall building or in the mountains.

Personally I wonder about those people that just haven’t gotten the tuner. It was given out freely by the government for over a year. The MIC has been running commercials constantly, peen pushing their mascot on people during sporting events and even taking out ads in newspapers amongst other things.

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 地デジ(地デジ). It is pronounced chi-deji and it means Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting.