• 将棋から生まれた新しいゲーム、どうぶつしょうぎ

    [From June Issue 2010]

    Shogi is a traditional, two-player board game, similar to Western chess. Each player controls 40 pieces, and the rules are complicated. Each piece has kanji characters such as “Osho” (King) and “Hisha” (flying chariot) written on it, and they can all move in a variety of different directions.

    The yearly decline in the number of shogi players has lead to the invention of Doubutsu Shogi (animal shogi), with the intention of attracting new players, hopefully women and children. KITAO Madoka, a joryu-kishi (professional female shogi player who plays in women-only tournaments), designed the rules, and in 2008 Doubutsu Shogi was sold by the Ladies Professional Shogi-players’ Association of Japan (LPSA). Doubutsu Shogi follows the basic rules and moves of traditional shogi.

    There are four different Doubutsu Shogi playing pieces: a Lion, an Elephant, a Giraffe and a Chick, each cutely designed by joryu-kishi FUJITA Maiko. The playing board, illustrated with a sky and a forest, has 12 squares, far fewer than the 81 squares on a regular shogi board. Learning the moves is as easy as following the red indication marks on each playing piece.

    It’s respectful to cheerfully greet your opponent with, “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu” (Let’s enjoy the game) before getting started, and “Arigatou gozaimashita” (Thank you) at the game’s conclusion. After playing “janken pon” (rock-paper-scissors) to decide who goes first, each player moves their pieces in turn. The winner is the player who succeeds in taking the other’s Lion, the game’s strongest piece (similar to Shogi’s Osho, or the King).

    Another joryu-kishi, OHBA Mika, who also works in the LPSA’s public relations department, has an eight-year-old daughter. Her daughter Maho, initially had difficulty learning the rules of traditional shogi, however, Ohba said that after playing Doubutsu Shogi, her daughter’s understanding of the rules started to improve.

    “I hope that the popularity of Doubutsu Shogi spreads more widely across Japan, and that it will in turn help make (traditional) shogi better known to people worldwide,” say Ohba. And it is, as both Kitao, and Fujita have already attended an international game festival in France this past March, Le Festival International des Jeux, de Cannes, where they introduced their new game. It is being called “Doubutsu Shogi: Let’s Catch the Lion!”

    Due to large amounts of recent media coverage, Doubutsu Shogi is now gaining momentum. The Doubutsu Shogi One Day Tournament, held this past February in Shibuya, Tokyo, attracted 150 children, with well over 300 people, including their parents, flocking to the venue to watch. This new board game, born out of the traditional Japanese game of shogi, is now set to spread from here to the rest of the world.

    Doubutsu Shogi Official Website

    Text: MUKAI Natsuko







    また大庭さんは、「どうぶつしょうぎが日本でますます広まって、世界中の人たちに将棋を知ってもらうきっかけになってほしいです」と話す。北尾さんと藤田さんは3月にフランス・カンヌで行われた「ゲームの祭典」を訪れ、どうぶつしょうぎを紹介した。海外では「Doubutsu Shogi (Let’s Catch the Lion!ライオンをつかまえろ!)」と呼ばれている。

    多くのメディアに取り上げられるようになり、どうぶつしょうぎはブームとなっている。2月に東京・渋谷で行われた「どうぶつしょうぎ・1 dayトーナメント」には、150名の子どもたちが参加し、保護者を含め300名が大会会場に集まった。日本の将棋という古いゲームから生まれた新しいゲームが、日本から世界へ発信されている。



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  • 人間の生活に溶け込むロボットたち

    [From June Issue 2010]

    In March, Japanese software company, FUJISOFT INCORPORATED (Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo), released “PALRO,” (Pal + Robot). Their humanoid robot can walk, recognize human faces, and speak, while exchanging looks with people. Connected to the Internet, it can also communicate via e-mail and by telephone.

    Walking robots need strong legs, but using solid metal would both weigh them down, and increase their prices to more than 10 million yen. With that in mind, Fuji Soft developed wrench-proof material technology to make the robot out of plastic, and, they used readily-available materials to further keep costs down. As a result, PALRO only measures 40 centimeters in height, weighs in at only 1.6 kilograms, and sells for 300,000 yen, a relatively low price for a walking robot.

    “The merit of PALRO is that you can install new software in it,” says SHIBUYA Masaki, Director of Robot Business Development Group. “For instance, someone developing software that could make the robot turn its head in the direction of a particular sound, could install a version in PALRO in order to experiment. And, because it is relatively inexpensive, facilities such as universities will make them available so that students can conduct research with them.”

    Humanoid robots will easily fit into people’s daily lives. “Robots with legs can go up and down the stairs and, also having arms, can open and close the refrigerator,” he says. And while the current PALRO model is only for research purposes, they do have plans to release a family model.

    LittleIsland, Inc. (Warabi City, Saitama) is known for their “personalized” robot-dolls. Called “Sokkly,” meaning “just like (the person),” each robot closely resembles its owner, and is custom-made either through personally meeting the client, or by looking at photos of them.

    “The quality of the face is important to us because we want the owner to enjoy being together with their robot,” says KOIKE Hiroaki, LittleIsland President. “There are some cases when the customer is female and, although the people around her think the robot looks just like her, she does not agree – that does cause some trouble. In any case, when I arrange the robot-doll’s hair, I enjoy it so much that I forget about time,” he admits.

    Sokkly offers other positive features besides just its familiar looks. It can be connected to the Internet or IP Phone, and it has the ability to understand verbal instructions. So, for instance, if you input your father’s phone number into Sokkly, then say “Please call father,” the robot will automatically make the connection.

    Sokkly can also speak and move its head and arms. After recording the owner’s voice and creating a verbal database, the robot will talk “just like the person,” but in a more-synthesized voice. It can recognize visitors and verbally welcome your guests with “irasshaimase” when placed in the entranceway of either your home or business. “Users with a little PC knowledge can create their own (Sokkly) programs. But I want to create robots that can eventually work as waiters and caregivers in the future,” says Koike.

    LittleIsland, Inc.

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo











    文:砂崎 良

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  • ゲームを日本の色に染めよう

    [From June Issue 2010]

    Gametech Co, Ltd.

    In 1983, the “Family Computer” or “Famicom” home video game console was released by the Nintendo Co., Ltd. Originally developed in Japan for home use, their unique games can now be played almost anywhere, at anytime, either via a handheld unit or on a cell phone. And, while cell phones continue to be fashionably decorated, the same is now happening to video game consoles.

    Starting off as a PC-software dealer in 1985, the Gametech Co, Ltd. (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka prefecture. CEO: NAGAYAMA Hisashi) now develops video game related accessories that reflect Japanese style and sensibility. “We aim at making convenient, original products that would make games more interesting,” says KABASHIMA Yoji, of Gametech’s sales department.

    Their breakthrough eventually came in 1993 when their keychain game, Tetrin 55, became very popular, gradually shifting their business model from selling software to developing video game accessories. To date, they have designed and developed roughly 500 original products, from portable videogame-to-television adapter cables for players who want to enjoy playing on large monitors, to protective, portable game pouches and gear.

    Presently the “Wasabi” line of game-related products is their most popular series, promising to “dress up digital devices with the beauty of Japanese style.” Their employees are young, with an average age of 30, giving Gametech the free spirit to eagerly pursue new ideas and participate in interesting projects. Out of that kind of positive energy came the idea of “making products that game players around the world would want, developing products that would reflect their Japanese origins, such as ‘wagara’ (traditional Japanese design)” and that is how the Wasabi line was eventually developed.

    The Wasabi series includes decorative decals, protective covers, and hard cases, all adorned with gorgeous, and modern Japanese pattern work. “Since it was a brand that we developed for overseas users, it was difficult to choose effective designs and patterns,” says Kabashima. The staff who participated in the project put a lot of effort in marketing and development, and also spent a lot of time choosing the materials, such as silicon and aluminum.

    Japanese aesthetic and quality-driven values are not only present in the design process, but also in the attention to detail. For instance, in making game pouches, care is taken in choosing both the color of the lining and the material for the drawstrings. Other examples from Gametech’s catalogue include the “Rampudo” series of accessories made from cotton, and the “Mokudigi” series made from 100% natural, carved wood, which Gametech can personalize with engraved names.

    Recently, Gametech exhibited at both Tokyo Game Show, and E3, the annual video game conference and show in Los Angeles, where Wasabi was very well received. The line is now being sold through large-scale electrical appliance shops and over the Internet, with many inquiries coming from abroad. Their catalog has been translated into English and Chinese, with Korean to be added soon.

    Gametech Co., Ltd.

    Text: YOSHIDA Akiko




    1985年にパソコン用ソフトの販売からスタートした株式会社ゲームテック(福岡県福岡市。代表取締役 永山久さん)は、日本らしいデザインでゲーム機を飾ろうと様々なデジタル機器向けの周辺アクセサリーを開発しています。「ゲームをもっと面白くするため、便利で個性的な商品作りを心がけています」と語るのは、営業部の樺島洋二さん。








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  • ツイッターブームの裏側

    [From June Issue 2010]

    Lately Twitter has been gaining popularity in Japan. Hiragana Times CIA interviewed Professor KAZAMA Ryuta, a Twitter and blog expert, and the author of “Twitter Boom Generated from Human Nature.”

    CIA: Why are Twitter and blogs relevant to human nature?

    Prof.: Simply put, a blog is a diary and Twitter is murmurings. In short, these satisfy the hidden, human “peeping-tom” desire to know about other people’s behavior and private lives, as well as drawing their attention.

    CIA: I’ve heard that famous people also use Twitter nowadays.

    Prof.: Yes, politicians including Prime Minister HATOYAMA and many “talento” have also started. Fans can learn of their activities and about their daily life, but in reality they usually write something positive about themselves to increase their good PR. In other words, what you read is controlled information.

    CIA: Ordinary people do not need good PR, so they write more honestly, no?

    Prof.: Yes. As a result, popular bloggers and Tweeters draw more attention and are followed more closely than “talentos.” Their comments are more persuasive since their comments are based on their real experiences.

    CIA: Don’t you think that there are many companies that would love to use their influence?

    Prof.: Companies ask people to rate their products & services in exchange for free items or a consulting fee. Bloggers and Tweeters would be happy to know that their messages were valued and would surely accept more company requests, maybe even becoming professional corporate spokespersons. Here is where you can see human nature at work – they are similar to politicians, who start out honestly working for the people, but end up corrupted by sweet temptation.

    CIA: Without knowing all the facts, people probably buy poor products believing that they are fine products. Is there any way to know the real truth?

    Prof.: You should know the 8:2 rule. If there is only admiration for a product, then people will know that it’s PR. To avoid that, 20% should be something negative so the comments seem realistic. The writer’s skill can easily mask the deficiencies, leading the reader to make the purchase anyway. After reading the comment, if you still want the product, you should remember the old adage that still applies. “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

    One Comment from CIA

    Many companies have their staff write positive comments about their products/services. Do you remember that it became a big issue when manufactured comments were disclosed by a leading supermarket in USA? It has been suggested that Twitter will spread quickly among Japanese, who habitually follow other people’s behaviors. In other words, Japanese are unable to independently judge whether or not something is really good or bad. So dear Japanese readers, now that many people have started using Twitter, saying that it is fun, what will you do?

    * CIA(Cynically Insulting Agency /皮肉冗談局)


    最近、日本で「ツイッター」がはやり始めた。Hiragana Times CIAは、「人間の性質が生んだツイッターブーム」の著者で、ツイッターやブログ事情に詳しい風間流太教授にインタビューした。













    * CIA(Cynically Insulting Agency /皮肉冗談局)

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  • 飛べない白鳥の世話をするペンキ屋さん

    [From June Issue 2010]

    HIROI Yoshinobu

    Every year around October, various migratory birds fly to the Japanese Archipelago. Since it is too cold for them to feed in Siberia during the winter, they migrate to a warmer Japan for their food. For two weeks they fly between 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers from the Eurasian Continent.

    Facing the Sea of Japan, in Shibata City, Niigata Prefecture, lies Lake Masugata, just one of the destinations for hundreds of swans who make it their home from October through April, before returning to Siberia in the spring. Among them, however, is one swan that is a Masugata resident. About 10 years ago it was seriously wounded and lost its right wing, making it unable to fly, and even the locals don’t know how it happened.

    In Masugata, the bogs are full of water grass. The lake is surrounded by low mountains, which shield it from both wind and heat – great conditions for a flightless swan during Japan’s severely hot summers. However, since it is difficult to survive on only nature-supplied food, the swan has been getting some local help.

    HIROI Yoshinobu, a paint shop owner for 40 years, has visited Lake Masugata to feed the crippled swan every morning before going to work, regardless of whether it is rainy, windy, snowy or freezing cold.

    Since his youth, Hiroi has taken regular walks around Masugata, but it was only 10 years ago that he first encountered a woman who was giving the wounded swan some bread. That’s when he decided to start feeding it rice. He had seen other swans foraging for food in rice paddies during the winter, and thought it would be nice to give the wounded swan some similar food.

    Hiroi first bought “irigo,” or unripened rice, from both the Agricultural Cooperative Association and local farmers. Since it was light and floated easily on water, he thought it would be most suitable for the swan. Thirty kilograms cost about 2,500 yen, and was enough to feed the swan for about five days. Nowadays, according to Hiroi, many neighboring farmers bring him rice to, “Please give to the swan.”

    Over the past 10 years, many people have fed the swan, but Hiroi is the only one who does it regularly. One day, Hiroi had something he had to do at his workplace, so he headed to Masugata later than usual. Upon arriving, he saw the swan standing on the shore gazing at him, making him feel guilty for being late. However, Hiroi felt deeply moved by the fact that the wild swan was waiting for him.

    Hiroi passionately admits that “as the person who started the feeding, I have a responsibility. The life expectancy of a swan is about 24 years. I imagine that this swan will live for at least another 10 years or so. I’m not sure who will live longer, the swan or I, but I intend to take care of until the day it dies.”

    When other swans start their return journey north, the wounded swan tries to follow, but with just one wing, it can only fly about two meters. Hiroi, who has been watching those attempts for ten years, says, “I really feel sorry for the bird. I wish I could send it back, at least once, to its homeland of Siberia.”

    Moreover, Hiroi organized the “Yamabiko-kai” (Echo Club) with the people he met at Masugata, and keeps in touch with them by taking trips and having meals together. Some new members have even joined after seeing him feed the swan. “The wounded swan has brought me encounters with so many people,” he remarks.

    One time, while Hiroi was feeding the swan as usual, a stranger approached, offering him a painting job. Like the old Japanese story, “Tsuru no Ongaeshi” (Crane’s Repayment of Kindness), for Hiroi, that repayment really happened.

    Hiroi admits that although he’s taking care of the swan voluntarily, he knows that he is also getting a lot of cooperation from the bird. “Live and let live. I wish we could all be friends,” he says as the tears welled up in his eyes. The flightless swan of Masugata, that Hiroi protects, is loved by everyone still today.

    Text: HAMADA Miyako
















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  • 南国リゾートの島―沖縄

    [From June Issue 2010]

    Okinawa Prefecture is located in the southernmost part of Japan, and is reachable via direct flights from major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. As the only subtropical region in Japan, Okinawa is warm all year round, boasting an annual average temperature of about 22℃, and a winter temperature never falling below 10℃. All this strong sunshine makes the native hibiscus plants, and the sparkling emerald ocean, look even more lush and beautiful.

    Although now a popular tourist destination attracting some 5 million visitors annually, Okinawa was once an independent state called the Ryukyu Kingdom. Over time it has developed a number of historic, World Heritage Sites, as well as other fascinating cultural elements including performing arts, craftwork and local cuisine. While you can travel by bus or taxi when visiting tourist spots within Naha City, traveling to the outskirts is easier done by taxi or rental car.

    The northern part of Okinawa’s main island is just a few hours’ drive from Naha Airport and remains a precious part of the main island, preserving its rich natural environment. The area’s most popular tourist spot is the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, one of the world’s largest, located within the Ocean Expo Park in Motobu-cho. Featuring “The Kuroshio (Black Current) Sea,” and “The Coral Sea” tanks, which allow for direct interaction with creatures that live in the shallows, the aquarium introduces the waters of Okinawa from every angle, providing plenty of things to see.

    The captive breeding of several whale sharks and manta rays, along with the large scale exhibit of living coral sustained in an “open system” (in which water pumped directly from the sea flows into the tank and then directly back out again) are the first such attempts at this in the world. Through one of the world’s largest acrylic windows, you can peer across the huge Kuroshio Sea tank’s massive 7,500 cubic meter size, and see whale sharks and manta rays swim vigorously. While just outside you can further enjoy a dazzling dolphin show at the open-air Okichan Theater.

    Five minutes by car from the Ocean Expo Park is Bise Village, offering streets lined with fukugi trees (Garcinia subelliptica), some of them 300 years old. They were originally planted across Okinawa long ago to protect village houses from typhoons and sea winds.

    The northern part of Okinawa’s main island is also the first place in Japan where people can enjoy viewing the yearly cherry blossoms. Hikan cherry trees, which have bell-shaped blossoms in deep pink, bloom in the area in late January, with later blooms happening further down south. At the popular viewing spots such as Yaedake (Motobu-cho) and near the Nago Castle Ruins (Nago City), various festivals are held while the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Furthermore, throughout Okinawa, cherry trees are planted along slopes so people can enjoy the seasonal ritual while taking long walks through the rows of blooming trees.

    Heading South on national route 58, which runs along the island’s west coast, you can see the breathtakingly beautiful emerald ocean stretching out before your very eyes. In this area there are a number of side-by-side resort hotels and beautiful beaches where vacationers can enjoy swimming.

    In Okinawa, the swimming season lasts from May through October, during which time you can also enjoy other aquatic activities such as riding banana boats and jet skiing. Okinawa is also known as a mecca for scuba diving, which can be enjoyed all year round.

    In Naha City, the center of Okinawa, popular tourists spots including the busy Kokusai Street, and Shuri Castle can be found. Naha City also boasts a number of cultural assets, including the ruins of “gusuku” (meaning “castle” or “fortress” in Okinawa) that dates back to the Ryukyu Kingdom era. Of the prefecture’s nine designated World Heritage Sites, four are located in Naha City, with the Ruins of Shuri Castle, the king’s royal residence, playing an important role as the center of politics, where most official ceremonies took place.

    The Shuri Castle Festival, held annually in early November, is a big event that celebrates the Ryukyu Kingdom era through traditional dance and a gorgeous procession of people dressed in the costumes of the royalty, and nobility of that period. Around Shuri Castle there are many spots where strolling can be enjoyed, including the stone-paved road in Kinjo-cho, where Bingata (Okinawa’s traditional dyed cloth) studios are also located.

    During the Ryukyu Dynasty, the chefs of Shuri Castle developed some excellent cuisine, having been sent to China to learn how to cook. Since then, typical Okinawan pork dishes are said to use every part of the pig, except for its squeal, and are staples for most of the locals. Rafute, braised pork belly, and Ashi Tibitchi, stewed pig’s feet, are still served at dinner tables across Okinawa, and are indispensable for special occasions.

    Naha City’s Makishi Public Market, a.k.a. “Okinawa’s Stomach,” offers a huge variety of local food, but what immediately catches your eye upon entering the building, is the fresh fish corner displaying such vividly colored catch as irabucha (parrot fish). In the meat corner, every part of the pig is sold, from chunks of meat to feet and chiraga (skin from the head). There is even a restaurant on the second floor where you can have food you purchased on the first floor cooked for you right then and there.

    Okinawa’s main street is the 1.6 kilometer long Kokusai Street that’s lined with souvenir shops, boutiques and many restaurants, and is usually festively crowded until late at night. Every Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., the street turns into a “transit mall” (“for pedestrians only”), remaining vehicle-free so that people can enjoy the lively street performances and open-air cafes.

    Yachimun (Okinawan for “pottery”) Street in Tsuboya, located near the Makishi Public Market, is known as a pottery street, and is lined with dozens of pottery studios and retail shops. Many visitors to Okinawa keep returning, fascinated by its beautiful, natural surrounding, the unique culture and rich history. In Okinawa, there is always something intriguing to learn about!

    Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau

    Text: SATO Kumiko
















    財団法人 沖縄観光コンベンションビューロー


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  • 手軽に食べられる日本食

    [From June Issue 2010]

    There are a variety of different foods available in Japan, including Chinese, Korean and Western cuisines, and among them is the Japanese light meal, or fast food. “Yoshinoya,” “Matsuya” and “Sukiya” are well-known gyu-don (beaf bowl) chain restaurants where you can have a regular-sized bowl for less than 300 yen. “Tenya” is another well-known chain restaurant that specializes in ten-don (tempura bowl).

    “Don” means bowl, and “gyu” mean “cow” or “beef,” so together it’s a bowl of beef, with gravy, on rice. “Ten-don” is a tempura rice bowl, and “una-don” is unagi (eel) rice bowl. “Katsu-don” is made with a batter-coated and deep fried pork cutlet, while “oyako-don” is mixed chicken with eggs, on rice. In Japanese, “oyako” means parent and child, and since a chicken and an egg are similar, that’s how it got it’s name.

    Ramen (noodles) is the most widely eaten food in Japan, with more than 25,000 ramen restaurants across the country, and about 3,000 in Tokyo alone. Though ramen came from China, its cooking has been developed in Japan to meet Japanese taste for so long that it is considered to be Japanese food. Originally, it was cooked with a soy sauce broth, but nowadays there are many varieties, including miso-based and salt-based flavors. In Japanese, “men” means “noodle.” Other noodles like soba and udon are also included in “men.”

    Traditionally, sushi was considered a luxury food. However, now that kaitenzusi has spread across Japan, inexpensive sushi is now readily available at kaitenzushi restaurant chains such as Sushiro, Kura-zushi and Kappa Zushi. In kanji, sushi is written commonly as “寿司,” but it is originally written as “鮨.” The kanji is a combination of “魚” (fish) and “旨い” (tasty), and means “tasty fish.” This kanji is also used now.

    Many so-called “famiresu” or “family restaurants” such as “Gusto,” “Denny’s,” “Saizeriya” and “Jonathon’s” are often frequented by non-Japanese, especially tourists. There, you can enjoy meals in a relaxed atmosphere, with different dishes to choose from, all at reasonable prices.

    Upon entering, restaurant staff members will usually greet you with “irasshaimase” (welcome, or come in), but you don’t have to reply as it is just a customary greeting. And don’t forget that in Japan tipping does not exist.

    At some restaurants you may come across these signs: “本日休業” (closed today), “臨時休業” (temporarily closed),“営業中” (now open), or “準備中” (under preparation).

    The following Japanese words are often used at the table.

    Mizu (water), o-cha (tea), biiru (beer), koppu (glass), hashi (chopsticks), satou (sugar), shio (salt), koshou (pepper), wasabi (horse radish), shouyu (soy sauce), sousu (sauce), su (vinegar), kaikei (bill), otsuri (change), and ryoushuusho (receipt). Often used phrases include “mada desuka” (Not ready yet?), “okawari” (another one), “xx arimasuka” (Do you have xx?) and “ikuradesuka?” (How much is it?).











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  • 厚揚げのいんろう煮

    [From June Issue 2010]

    Ingredients [Serves 2]

    • 1 block (200g) atsu-age
    • 1 tsp potato starch

    <minced meat stuffing>

    • 60g minced chicken
    • 10 cm green onion (finely chopped)
    • (A) 1 tsp soy sauce
    • 1/2 tsp ginger sauce
    • 1 tbsp beaten egg

    <cooking broth>

    • 1 cup stock (1 tsp bonito and seaweed stock powder/commercially prepared)
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp sweet cooking rice wine
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sake
    • a pinch of salt
    • 40g field mustard
    • Inrou: A small, wooden case often tied to the waist, inrou was traditionally used to carry around small items such as personal stamps (inkan) and medicine. Inrou also refers to a dish where one ingredient is hollowed out and stuffed with other ingredients.
    • Atsu-age: This is thick, deep-fried tofu, also called nama-age (raw and deep-fried) because its center remains uncooked. Atsu-age is similar but different to abura-age in that it is thin and deep fried instead (also referred to as usu-age.)

    1. Pour boiling water over the atsu-age to rinse off any excess oil. Cut the block in half, then cut around the inside of each piece leaving 5 to 6 mm along the edges. Scoop out the atsu-age making a pocket.

    2. Lightly mash the scooped out tofu then thoroughly mix it in a bowl with minced meat, green onions and part (A). Divide that mixture in two. Using a strainer, sprinkle half of the potato starch along the insides of the atsu-age, then spoon the tofu/meat stuffing into the pocket, sprinkling the remaining potato starch over it.

    3. Boil water then cook the field mustard for approximately 1 minute. Once cooked, immediately immerse them in a bowl of cold water for another minute to brighten their green color. Remove, align the stalks and wring out the water, then cut in two.

    4. In a pot mix together all the cooking broth ingredients then add the atsu-age. Cover, using an otoshi-buta (small wooden lid), and cook over a low-medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, basting occasionally. Remove from heat when only a thin layer of broth is left.

    5. Diagonally cut the atsu-age in half, then arrange them in a slightly deep dish. Garnish with the field mustard at the front and pour the remaining broth over top and serve.



    • 厚揚げ 1枚(200g)
    • かたくり粉 小さじ1


    • とりひき肉 60g
    • ねぎのみじん切り 10cm分
    • (A)しょうゆ 小さじ1
    • しょうが汁 小さじ1/2
    • とき卵 大さじ1


    • だし カップ1(市販のかつお昆布だし顆粒小さじ1を水でとく)
    • 砂糖 大さじ1
    • みりん 大さじ1
    • しょうゆ 大さじ1
    • 酒 大さじ1
    • 塩 少々
    • 菜の花 40g
    • いんろう:昔、印鑑や薬などを入れ、腰に下げた小箱のこと。材料にあけた空洞に、詰めものをした料理に使われる名前です。
    • 厚揚げ:とうふを厚く切って揚げたもの。油揚げを「薄揚げ」と呼ぶのに対してついた名前。中が生なので「生揚げ」とも呼ばれます。

    1. 厚揚げに熱湯をかけ、油を抜きます。2つに切り、外側5~6mmを残して包丁で切り込みをいれ、中身をくり抜いて袋状にします。

    2. ボールに、ひき肉、ねぎを入れ、厚揚げをくり抜いた中身を軽くつぶして加え、(A)も加えてよく混ぜます。それを2等分にします。厚揚げの内側に、茶こしでかたくり粉を半分ふりかけます。ひき肉あんをつめ、上から残りのかたくり粉をふりかけます。

    3. 熱湯に菜の花を入れて約1分ゆでます。ゆで上がったらすぐに、ボールに入れた冷たい水に約1分つけます。冷たい水につけることにより菜の花の緑色が鮮やかになります。根本をそろえて水気をしぼります。根本の固い部分を切り落とし、長さを半分にします。

    4. 鍋に煮汁の材料を入れます。2を並べ入れ、弱めの中火にして、落としぶたをのせ、鍋のふたをずらしてのせます。時々、スプーンで煮汁をかけながら10~15分煮ます。煮汁がなべ底に少し残るぐらいになったら火を止めます。

    5. いんろう煮を、斜め半分に切り、少し深めの皿に盛りつけます。手前に菜の花を添え、いんろう煮に煮汁をかけてできあがりです。

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  • 高校生たちがジャズバンドを組む青春物語

    [From June Issue 2010]

    Swing Girls (Directed by YAGUCHI Shinobu)

    This story takes place in a small town in the Tohoku region of Japan where 13 remedial high school students, including SUZUKI Tomoko (UENO Juri), are attending supplementary classes during summer vacation. One day, the school’s entire brass band, the one supporting the school’s baseball team, contracts a severe case of mass food poisoning. NAKAMURA Takuo, the only healthy band member left, tries to rebuild the band with new recruits. Tomoko and others who want to skip their supplementary classes, as well as some who enjoy playing music, join the band.

    Soon a new, 17-member band is formed, led by timid Nakamura. Tomoko and the other girls complain about all the running and muscle training, but still the band starts taking shape. Eventually, as the original band members start to recover, Tomoko and her friends lose their positions. But the girls, who start to enjoy playing music, decide to form their own band at the beginning of the new semester. Nakamura, who did not fit in with the brass band, quits and joins them.

    Tomoko and the other girls start working part-time to buy their instruments, but most of them end up spending their money on clothes and bags, and eventually quit the band. Four members including Tomoko, and Nakamura never give up and finally buy used saxophones and trumpets to form “Swing Girls and a Boy.” OZAWA, the Jazz-freak math teacher, then introduces them to the excitement of Jazz, and the band get into full swing.

    The former band members decide to return when they hear how well Tomoko and the others thrillingly play together. One day, they find out that the “Tohoku Students Music Festival” is accepting applications, so they record an audition tape. However, Tomoko misses the deadline, eliminating any chance for them to take part in the contest. Tomoko still hasn’t told the truth, even by the day of the contest. They are all travelling to the concert hall by train when they are stopped by a snow storm. Finally the students know that they won’t be able to play anyway.

    Disappointed, they blame Tomoko for her fault. Then, as they overhear some passenger’s portable radio playing Jazz, they all start spontaneously playing their instruments. Soon after that, a motor coach arrives to pick them up, as they have been invited to participate in the contest as replacements for another band that had to cancel due to the same storm.

    The band eventually gets on stage for the festival’s final performance, and just start playing in harmony. While their style of Jazz, with its unique rhythms and power horns, is in sharp contrast to the classics that the other bands played, it still gets the audience going. Eventually all the people are standing and clapping to the beat.

    Released in 2004, this movie won many prizes including ‘Best Film Nominee’ at the 2005 Japanese Academy Awards. All the actors trained intensively to learn how to play their instruments before filming began, and performed live nationally and internationally to help promote it.


    スウィングガールズ(矢口史靖 監督)








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