• 外国人シェフによる和食コンペティション

    [From March Issue 2014]

    In December 2013, “washoku – traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese” was registered by UNESCO as one of the world’s intangible cultural heritages. It’s expected that washoku will now be attracting even more attention globally than ever before. The final selection of the “Washoku World Challenge 2013” competition was held on December 8. It’s the first Japanese cuisine competition involving foreign chefs. More than 100 dishes from 21 countries and regions around the world were entered.
    The ten chefs that made it through the selection process pitted their skills against each other in the final. Scoring was carried out according to a wide range of criteria, including authenticity (how Japanese in style it was), theme, taste, originality, cooking skills and hygiene standards. The judges highly praised the dishes saying, “These are all great dishes. Though they’ve been altered to suit the tastes of each chef’s country, the principles of Japanese cuisine, such as stock preparation and beautiful presentation, have been respected.”
    Chinese chef MAO Yuming says, “When I cook Japanese cuisine, I make a point of presenting the food carefully. I think of each dish as a painting that transmits a sense of the season.” Mao made salmon-and-potato steamed buns.
    American Jeff RAMSEY, who made “ochazuke rolls,” says, “The appeal of Japanese food lies in satisfying the appetite using umami (savory flavors) and a restrained use of oil and salt. Japan’s food culture and history is so deep that it’s worth delving into.”
    LI Kwok Wing, a chef who runs a sushi restaurant in Singapore, made the winning dish of “steamed chestnut and pumpkin.” It received high marks from the judges: “by emphasizing the pumpkin as the main ingredient, it expressed the delicacy of Japanese cuisine.” Li is originally from China and has specialized in Japanese cuisine for 40 years. “I’m bursting with happiness. Japanese cuisine has been my life itself. So it feels like this prize has been awarded to my entire life,” he said.
    In addition to French cuisine, in Japan, it’s possible to eat delicious foods from many different countries. This is mainly because, beginning with the basics, Japanese chefs have studied the authentic cuisine of each country and disseminated this throughout Japan. The outstanding chefs selected for the final are expected to play an active role as “evangelists for washoku.”
    Washoku World Challenge[2014年3月号掲載記事]

    2013年12月に「和食 日本人の伝統的な食文化」がユネスコの世界無形文化遺産に登録されました。和食が今まで以上に世界中から注目されるようになると予想されています。12月8日には「和食ワールドチャレンジ2013」の決勝審査会が行われました。これは外国人シェフによる初めての日本料理コンペティションです。世界21の国や地域から、100を超えるメニューの応募がありました。

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  • 水を使わずに調理ができる鍋

    [From March Issue 2014]

    Aichi Dobby. Ltd.
    “Vermicular,” an enamel pot developed to cook without using a single drop of water, has become a hot topic. If ingredients such as meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, and a roux are placed into the pot and cooked over a low heat, a delicious curry is produced in approximately one hour. Though it’s been three years and six months since it was launched on the market, it is still a popular item; it takes eight months to arrive after an order is placed.
    Vermicular is manufactured by a small factory in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture called Aichi Dobby. Ltd. (Executive President, HIJIKATA Kunihiro). The company has the knowhow to cast and precision process iron. Originally the company made machine parts, but it was decided that “by combining these two processes, it will be possible to produce pots that haven’t existed in the world till now.” With this in mind, development work got underway.
    The pot can cook without water because there is no gap between the body of the pot and its lid. “When you close the lid on pots produced by other companies, they rattle up and down, but since the point of contact between the Vermicular’s pot and lid is processed precisely, it does not move at all. When you seal it, you do not need water because the moisture emitted from the ingredients turns into steam that stays inside,” explains HIJIKATA Tomoharu, vice president and head of development.
    “We had to manufacture it precisely in order to make it as airtight as possible. However, the casting used to make pots is very thin, so it warps no matter what. In addition, cast iron will warp at high temperatures of 800° heat when the body is painted with enamel. In this way, it was a huge effort balancing techniques of applying enamel with techniques to improve the seal,” he says, looking back to the developmental stage.
    “The pot was designed to effectively transmit heat to ingredients from the heat source, with the idea in mind of producing ‘a pot designed to bring out the essential taste of ingredients.’ For example the ridged surface on the bottom of the pot does not stress the ingredients and distributes heat evenly. That is why this pot can bring out a sweetness in ingredients that other companies’ pots cannot,” Hijikata says, describing the Vermicular’s features.
    Emails and telephone calls from surprised customers arrive almost every day saying, “In any case, vegetables are tastier,” “It is the first time I was able to cook so well,” “I did not know that the taste of ingredients could be so rich,” “Up until now I’ve hated carrots but now I can eat them,” and “Now artificial flavoring leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”
    Approximately 80,000 pots have been shipped and the Vermicular has become the company’s main product, accounting for 80% of sales. Hijikata says that the appeal of the product lies in the fact that it “reflects the craftsmanship that is only possible with Made in Japan products.” Talking about his dreams for the future, he says that from now on, “so that customers from around the world can enjoy it, I want to develop a product that adapts itself to the eating habits and the lifestyles of various countries.”
    Aichi Dobby. Ltd.
    Text: ITO Koichi[2014年3月号掲載記事]


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  • さまざまな顔を持つ女性

    [From March Issue 2014]

    Kyoko SPECTOR
    Representative Director of Spector Communications
    Kyoko SPECTOR has many faces. Her days are full of activity; in addition to being a TV personality, and the director of an international friendship exchange association, and a wife, she is the representative director of a company that produces TV programs and manages TV personalities. At the center of her life is Dave SPECTOR, a TV personality and her husband.
    Dave Spector is a well-known American in Japan. The two of them met for the first time in the late 70s in Los Angeles in the United States. Since her elementary school days, Kyoko dreamt about foreign countries she’d heard about from her father who had once worked for a trading company. She was a college student when her dream of studying abroad in the US came true. Upon graduation, she returned to Japan, but, missing the American atmosphere of freedom, she moved back to the US.
    She met Dave when she began working as a concierge and tour manager for a Japanese hotel in L.A. Dave, who was producing programs for an American TV station, asked her out on a date. “He came to talk to me while I was working and his Japanese was so fluent that he gave an impression of being a suspicious American,” laughs Kyoko.
    Thinking that there’d only be one date, never in her wildest dreams would she believe that this would lead to a marriage lasting more than 30 years. In 1983, Dave was put in charge of making TV programs for ABC Broadcasting, US, and the two of them went to Japan together. Finally back in her native country, Kyoko began working as an assistant to her husband.
    In no time Dave himself began to appear on TV shows as a personality or commentator. Dave attached great importance to being fully prepared and so he instructed Kyoko to collect information about the other personalities appearing on the same programs and to record his shows. In this way she became the manager of the TV personality “Dave Spector.”
    Although their life in the entertainment business seemed to be going well, Dave once came under fire from viewers who perceived some remarks he’d made on the popular debate program “Asa Made Nama Terebi” (Live TV Till Morning) as being critical of Japan itself. Discouraged, Dave ended up saying that he wanted to return to the US.
    “If he had returned to the US under those circumstances, he’d have been forever misunderstood by Japanese people. I wanted them to see just how much Dave loved Japan. With only that in mind, I did everything I could to stop him, setting goals and saying, ‘Let’s keep at it just a little more until you appear on that show,’” recalls Kyoko.
    Overcoming such difficulties, Dave established himself as a TV personality and commentator indispensable to Japan’s entertainment business. Then, Kyoko began her own work in the entertainment business as a TV personality and commentator.
    Besides the one she shows to the TV industry, Kyoko has many faces. She has conducted cultural exchanges with the ambassadors of various countries for many years. Kyoko has inherited friendships that Dave made through work and is deepening them. “We put aside business and socialize purely as friends,” says Kyoko.
    She has so far acted as a judge in a Japanese language speech contest for embassy staffers in Japan and has helped with promotion activities for many different countries. In 2002, she was the first Japanese woman to be presented with the “Friend of Thailand” award. In 2012, she was nominated director of the Japanese branch of “San Fortunato,” a friendship exchange association that has a long history in Europe.
    Furthermore, she has participated in charitable activities for “Refugees International Japan (RIJ),” a general incorporated foundation. Drawing on her experience of life in the US, she has also presented her work at a charity event where table settings of different countries were on display. That inspired her to continue to this day to devote her life to the art of table setting.
    Kyoko’s motto is “Don’t let opportunities slip away.” For example, if Dave gets a request to appear on some TV program, she believes that it’s “rude to the other party” to turn it down because of a scheduling conflict. As representative director, she goes as far as to offer her personality “Kyoko Spector” instead, saying, “Dave can’t make it unfortunately, but Kyoko is available.”
    While supporting her beloved husband outside the spotlight, she has always challenged herself and has prized her friendships above anything else. She studied economics in the US and talks enthusiastically about her plan to expand her company’s business in the future.




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  • ファミリーマート



    【No.1】ファミチキ 160円




    【No.3】肉まん 110円

    ファミリーマート[:en][From March Issue 2014]

    FamilyMart is the first chain of convenience stores to be founded in Japan. There are approximately 10,000 stores nationwide, but worldwide there are approximately 23,000 stores, most of them in Southeast and East Asia. The company’s wide range of desserts is popular, as well as its selection of fried food available at the register.

    [No. 1] Fami Chiki 160 yen

    Fried chicken with a crunchy outer coating and soft, juicy meat. It’s boneless and easy to eat, which is one of the reasons for its popularity.

    [No. 2] Famima Premium Chicken (on the bone) 180 yen

    Fried chicken characterized by the sweet aroma of herbs and spices, the particular texture of its meat and its thin, crispy coating. So delicious it holds its own even when compared to fried chicken offered at specialty restaurants.

    [No. 3] Niku-man (Steamed bun with meat filling) 110 yen

    One of several Chinese-style steamed buns, it contains a mixture of pork and other meats which is juicy and tasty. Even just one niku-man makes a filling and a satisfying treat.

    Prices and availability are subject to location and time of year.

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  • 目が見えないから気づいた日本語のおもしろさ

    [From March Issue 2014]

    Mohamed Omer ABDIN
    “One of Japan’s best loved foods is the nashi (pear) fruit. If it’s inedible it is dainashi (spoiled). Oops, another pun popped out,” says Mohamed Omar ABDIN humorously. Abdin is a student attending graduate school at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. He is also the executive vice-representative of the “Committee for Assisting and Promoting Education for The Disabled in Sudan.”
    Abdin is from Khartoum, Sudan. Ever since he was a child his eyesight has gradually deteriorated. He was able to study by getting the people around him to read out textbooks and enrolled at Khartoum University’s law department. However, the university was closed down because of political issues. While pondering his next move, he found out that a Japanese group that worked in support of the blind was looking for a foreign student to attend a school for the blind. He applied for the place. Then only Abdin was selected from a large number of candidates.
    Abdin came to Japan in 1998. All the other foreign students who had come from other countries had studied Japanese in their home country, but Abdin had never studied the language. In addition, he was not used to braille either. When he was told to work on Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1 questions he was shocked and burst into tears because he could not make head nor tail of the problems.
    “In Arabic, verbs come first, but in Japanese, the verb comes at the end. So, you need to listen to the end to understand the meaning. Words of foreign origin written in katakana have pronunciations that differ considerably from the original English. In the beginning, I did not know about the existence of kanji,” reflects Abdin.
    If his grades were bad, he would have no option but to return to Sudan. “Because I cannot see, I need people to help me live. Since I am asking for help, I must speak politely. I think that is why my Japanese improved rapidly. I did my best, thinking that all the Japanese people I met were live textbooks, and that conversations were opportunities for me to study.”
    Abdin listened to audio books over and over. In addition, he wrote kanji on clay with disposable chopsticks, learning it by touch. He memorized the jokes and dialect of his homestay father by repeating them to his teachers and classmates. Particularly in the case of kanji, he went out of his way to enquire about how a letter was written, converting this into a database in his head. He found the radio useful for listening to natural Japanese in a variety of genres.
    Abdin took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1 in 2000 and passed. In addition, he learned how to use software that read out the text on his screen. Because he had to start learning the arrangement of the keyboard, he had a very hard time, but he eventually became able to read and write by himself. At the same time, he wanted to make braille available to blind Sudanese children and established the “Committee for Assisting and Promoting Education for the Disabled in Sudan” (CAPEDS).
    Abdin is currently writing his doctoral dissertation about the dispute between north and south Sudan. At the same time, he has summed up his 15-years of experience since coming to Japan in a book called “Waga Mousou.” “The title uses (the kanji) 盲, which means blind, in place of (the kanji) 妄, which means delusion to create (the word) ‘mousou,’ which means delusional thought. Because I cannot see, I can have fun freely playing around with kanji characters.”
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年3月号掲載記事]


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  • 農業高校のゆかいなエピソードがいっぱい

    [From March Issue 2014]

    Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon)
    Set at an agricultural high school and portraying the development of high school boys, “Gin no Saji” (Silver Spoon) has been serialized in Shukan Shonen Sunday since 2011. Only ten volumes of this comic have been released, but it has already become a hot topic with sales totaling more than 13 million copies. The animated TV adaptation was broadcast from July to September 2013. The second season has been broadcast since January, 2014.
    The story begins when the main character of the story HACHIKEN Yugo enters Ooezo Agricultural High School in Hokkaido. Hachiken attended a top-class junior high school in Sapporo City. However, after graduating, rather than going on to the associated high school, he chose to enroll at an agricultural high school in the middle of nowhere.
    During junior high school, Hachiken did not participate in any club activities, but only thought of getting better grades on his tests. Having an older brother who achieved top grades, Hachiken was under a lot of pressure due to the expectations of his parents. However, his grades failed to improve and Hachiken was completely exhausted in both mind and body. Recognizing that Hachiken was in such a state, his junior high school teacher recommended that he enroll at a more easy going agricultural high school. Without any other motive in mind other than the desire to get away from his parents, Hachiken enrolled at an agricultural high school which had dormitories.
    However, Hachiken is shocked to find out that most of his classmates have clear dreams for the future. He tries to preserve his identity by getting top scores on tests, but fails to achieve even that. Each student has an area of expertise; a classmate who cannot keep up in mathematics scores 100 in animal husbandry. Moreover, unlike Hachiken, whose goal was to get good grades, they excel at something in order to make their dreams for the future come true. Overall, Hachiken achieves top marks, but he is not satisfied with that at all.
    He not only gets a shock from the tests. Having been raised by office workers, it is the first time he has come into contact with livestock. The adorable piglets kept in the school are destined to become pork several months later. Once they stop laying eggs, or cease to produce milk, the chickens and cows are slaughtered for their meat. Hachiken learns through experience the difference between pets and livestock.
    The author ARAKAWA Hiromu is a comic writer known for other works, including “Hagane no Renkinjyutsushi” (Fullmetal Alchemist). Her family are dairy farmers and she graduated from an agricultural high school. This is why the descriptions of the classes and dormitory life are so lively and detailed. The work also mentions subjects, including biotechnology, that are taught at agricultural high schools at the same level as at a university.
    The work is filled with comic elements unique to agricultural high schools, including a club to appreciate the beauty of Holstein cows, and a female student, Tamako who is particularly fussy about not letting anything go to waste. In addition, the work also brings up the realities of farming and the problems of agriculture. Readers can laugh while finding out about the various aspects of agriculture with Hachiken.
    Text:ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年3月号掲載記事]

    農業高校を舞台に、男子高校生の成長を描いた「銀の匙-Silver Spoon-」は2011年から週刊少年サンデーで連載中です。コミックスは10巻まで発売されていますが、販売累計は1,300万冊を超える話題作です。2013年7~9月はテレビアニメも放送。第2期が2014年1月から放送されています。

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  • 日本は安全でやさしい人が多い

    [From March Issue 2014]

    Meghan SAHARA
    Meghan SAHARA from Pittsburgh, United States, teaches English conversation to junior and senior high school students at Musashino Joshi-Gakuin High School in Tokyo. She decided to come to Japan on the advice of a friend who had lived in the country. Meghan says she was already interested in Japan because she was fond of films by directors OZU Yasujiro and KUROSAWA Akira.
    “I’ve been here nearly five years. It’s very easy to live in Japan and I like it. It’s safe and there are many kind-hearted people here. I like Japanese food. I can eat nattou (fermented soybeans), too,” laughs Meghan. She studied the Japanese language in college for about a year and says, “Japanese is a beautiful sounding language.”
    Meghan studies Japanese at Iidabashi Japanese Language School at Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. Honorific expressions and kanji make her feel that Japanese is difficult. “Kanji is hard, but fun. I use a smartphone app called ‘Anki’ in order to study it. The app works in the same way as flash cards and it’s handy that I can share vocabulary lists with friends over the Internet.”
    Meghan got married to a Japanese man and moved to Tokyo in the summer of 2013. Before that, she lived in Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture, where she taught English at a senior high school. When she met up with her friends over the summer to go to a festival, she met the man who is now her husband. On her days off she spends her time going out for meals or to the movies with her husband.
    One of the tourist attractions she wants to visit in Japan is Tokyo Disneyland. Even when she lived in the US, her native country, Meghan had never been to Disneyland. When she said this to her students, they were very surprised. “They suggest I go soon,” she laughs.
    When she started working in Japan as an English teacher, she was surprised at the strict timekeeping and politeness of students at Japanese schools. She was most surprised by ‘clean-up time’ (when students clean their classroom at the end of the day); something that doesn’t exist in American schools. Meghan says, however, that cleaning one’s school is a good thing. “I think it’s a practice that makes you proud of your school.”
    In her classes she tells a lot of jokes and plays games to create a relaxing mood. “The practice of picking on students one after the other to speak out aloud makes them nervous. Because it’s so unfamiliar to them, it’s quite understandable that they are embarrassed of speaking English in front of classmates. So I first let them practice in small groups.”
    Meghan says that it’s great fun to teach English conversation to students. “Once they understand they can speak freely, without thinking about entrance exams like in other classes, they begin to express their ideas with great flair. It’s rewarding to see the pleasure my students get from understanding what they’re saying in English.”
    Iidabashi Japanese Language School
    Text: TSUCHIYA Emi[2014年3月号掲載記事]


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