Parlez-vous De Crevettes Bleues?

Stormy weekends have kept us off the water. We consoled ourselves with food. Yesterday, I took Kimie to lunch at a new restaurant in town. The food (Japanese style) was OK but we missed Mama's Kitchen.

Then, in the afternoon, we received a cold package delivered to our door. It was from our friend who runs a ryokan hotel to our north. A box of Pacific blue prawns (called Tenshi no Ebi - angel prawn - in Japan) from New Caledonia, a bottle of sweet red pepper sauce, and wonton sheets to wrap around the meat and fry in sesame oil.


We'd never tried blue prawns before, so Kimie prepared some for dinner. So many ways to cook them - pan fried, tempura, wonton, sashimi, soup.... Kimie kept it simple and pan fried some with mizuna (a leafy green vegetable) garlic, salt and pepper.


Before cooking, they look silvery blue. She saved the heads for later.

I didn't get a picture of the cooked prawns - we were too busy eating them. They were so flavorful - the best prawns I've ever tasted - with an excellent texture. New Caledonia has been farming blue prawns for decades now. Their local species were not adaptable to aquaculture, so they brought in this one from Mexico. Unlike many farmed "fish", these prawns are not fed land animal by-products, hormones, coloring or antibiotics. They are raised in a way that does not harm the surrounding mangrove forests.

The Pacific blue prawns are grown on Pacific islands. New Caledonia is one place, Fiji is another. Development work is being done in Hawaii. Other than the superior flavor, the water that is used on island farms is free of viruses. Polluted water can be a big problem for prawns grown in some other countries.

Today, we had the heads in our ramen (noodle soup). The wonderful prawn flavor was infused into the ramen. I did manage to take a picture this time. The prawn heads turned an otherwise ordinary dish into a savory delight.




Japanese Women Are Burning Their Bras!

It's true. In recent years Japanese women have begun burning their bras.

This isn't a feminist protest, this an ecologically more responsible (and private) way of disposing of old bras.

In Japan, burnable garbage is placed into translucent plastic bags which in turn are put into neighborhood wire bins for collection so that non-burnables (which are handled separately) erroneously mixed in with burnables can be spotted before creating a problem in the system.

Unfortunately, that means personal items such as undergarments may be visible before the bag is collected. Many women are embarrassed by the thought of their bras being seen by others or even snatched by a pervert, and so cut them up into small pieces - not easy as many of them contain wires.

From this

In the last few years major underwear makers in Japan started programs to recycle such items and they offer opaque bags for women to use with the recycling program. And instead of just being incinerated, the bras are recycled into what industry calls RPF - "refuse paper and plastic fuel".

to this.

The fuel is burned in boilers and power generation plants. It is a fraction the cost of coal, burns more cleanly, and produces less carbon dioxide. There is such a growing demand for RPF that one company is expanding their bra collecting efforts to Taiwan.

So, two um.. thumbs up for burning your bras, ladies... after you're done wearing them, of course.

source: Recycling bras kills two birds with one stone - Kyodo News


Full Moon At Hinuma

Tonight (October 12 in Japan) there is a full moon. It will be a "Hunter's Moon" - the farthest, and thus smallest, full Moon of the year. I hope the weather cooperates so that we can view it.

I was surprised to come across this woodblock print of a full moon over Lake Hinuma (1946) by Hasui Kawase 川瀬 巴水 (1883-1957):

I had no idea that Lake Hinuma, where we spend so many days sailing each year, was ever the subject of a woodblock print - let alone by such a famous artist. Kawase was one of the most prolific Japanese artists of the early 20th century. In all, he produced 600 landscape prints, but also other works. Unfortunately, most of his early wood blocks were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

He was part of the "shin hanga" (new print) movement. Unlike Edo Period woodblock artists who designed, cut the blocks, and printed their own art, shin hanga artists split the tasks between artist, wood cutter, and printer, and gave credit to each for their contribution to the finished product. Shin hanga artists also worked to create more limited edition pieces which were not to be mass produced like the famous ukiyo-e pieces were.

Kawase's subjects were mostly landscapes, and the places he chose to depict were not famous places in Tokyo and evirons, but rather picturesque rural areas which still had the appeal of being more natural and undeveloped parts of a rapidly changing Japan. He traveled far and wide and sketched his impressions, returning to Tokyo to create the resulting prints.

Well, I must say that it is those same characteristics (more natural and less developed) which led me to settle in Ibaraki and to choose Lake Hinuma as home for our sailboat Bluesette. Full Moon At Hinuma captures well the serenity we find there.

Enjoy the moon.