2011/11/17

Morning Cup Of What?

We enjoy a cup of coffee with breakfast - nothing unusual there. Even though it costs more than what is offered in the grocery store, I often buy roasted beans from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopa, or other exotic countries, through HonuKATOCOFFEE. We grind them up ourselves as needed, for a fresh flavor.


Honu Kato Coffee offers some nice combinations for about $9.00 per pound


Recently, Kimie read about a very special coffee from the Philippines. It is called "Coffee Alamid" or "Civet Coffee" and locally as "Kopi Luwak". The price is an eye opening US$394.00 per pound! Who needs caffeine? If that doesn't wake you up, you're either one of Wall Street's 1% or you need to check your pulse.


What is especially odd to me is the reason for this huge price difference. You see, the Alamid, Luwak, or Asian palm civet, is an animal found in the Philippines which plays an important role in the production of this coffee. Civets are nocturnal mammals that like to eat the fruit of the coffee plant for its pulp. Their bodies have enzymes which allow them to digest it. Their digestion chemically changes the coffee bean making it lose its bitterness. They eliminate the beans, which - I am not making this up - people search for and gather to make into Civet coffee.

After a thorough washing (I should hope) sun drying and roasting, it is ready to package.

I'll pass (so to speak).

2011/11/10

Tanbo Art

Tanbo is the Japanese word for "rice paddy". In 1993, in the center Aomori, the northern most prefecture on Honshu, the people of Inakadate Village created "Tanbo Art" by growing pictures in rice paddies using different strains of rice that have various leaf coloration as their palette. They hoped to increase commerce by drawing attention to the village. They plant the art in front of the town hall on which they built a castle-like viewing tower. The idea was a success, with over 200,000 visitors coming to see the Tanbo Art each year.

I posted about the Tanbo Art back in 2005 - http://pacific-islander.blogspot.com/2005/07/rice-paddy-art.html - during my first year of living in Japan.

Tanbo Art has not been without controversy. In 2008, in an effort to cover costs, the village revitalization group who are responsible for the art, planted advertisements at the base of the pictures - one for Japan Airlines, another for a local newspaper. The town government was so angry that they threatened to no longer lease the land for the art in following years. After a vote by the townspeople, the rice seedlings for the advertising portions were removed.

This year, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami gave a new focus for the art and the messages grown in the rice.


The above picture is of Kaguya-hime, a princess from the Moon and the main character in Japan's oldest novel Taketori Monogatari, "The Bamboo Cutter's Daughter". She is shown being returned to the Moon at the end of the story. At the bottom is written : "Gambaru Japan!!" a common expression which has become the nation's post 3/11 slogan. It means "Do your best, Japan".


The second picture is of the Bamboo Cutter and his wife and the glowing section of bamboo in which, as the story goes, the princess arrived on Earth as a baby. Under it, it says "please think of others."

I also happened to write about the novel on my blog in 2007, as I have a beautifully illustrated and translated book of it. The original novel dates back to the late 9th or early 10th century. At the time I wrote that post, Japan had just launched a moon exploration probe named "Kaguya" after the Moon maiden.

That post is here - http://pacific-islander.blogspot.com/2007/09/moon-maiden-takes-flight-princess.html and if you haven't read it before, I hope you'll do so and find it interesting.

For more remarkable images of Tanbo Art, just search for it in Google Images.