Tag Archives: Kaiyu Eco-Lodge

A Visit to the Old Japan

Updated 7/8/2014.

I’d first wanted to visit Japan in my mid-20’s when I began taking pottery lessons and became enamored of those earthy Japanese glazes and the sublimely imperfect ceramic shapes. There were potters’ trips that would have let me work and live at a few pottery villages and participate in their wood-fueled kiln firings. The trips cost something like $1500. If I recall correctly, that price even included round trip airfare. But I was young and didn’t have the money.
While such a trip would no doubt have provided a wonderful set of experiences and might have changed the course of my life, it turns out this 2014 trip was worth waiting for – and also let me see glimpses of the old Japan my younger self was seeking.

Early bowl - JRH A little bowl I made years ago – still in use. (Photo: J. Hardin)

 

THE FOUR MAIN ISLANDS OF JAPAN
The archipelago that is Japan is made up of 2,456 islands. Its varied climate ranges from cool temperate in the north to tropical in the south. Honshu (where Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Hiroshima are located) is the largest. Hokaido, (where Saporo is located), to the north of Honshu, is the second largest. Shikoku, between the Inland Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south, is the smallest. Kyushu (where Nagasaki is located), to the south of Shikoku, is the 3rd largest.

 

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Our Geographic Expeditions trip, Journey through Ancient Japan: Shikoku and Kyoto with Don George, began in Kyoto on Honshu and then continued for another week on rural Shikoku Island. It was all that I’d hoped it would be – and much more.
KYOTO IN CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME
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The trip began with a few days on my own in Kyoto, the imperial capital of Japan for over 1000 years  – just as its cherry trees were coming into full bloom. Even having seen DC’s Japanese cherry trees in bloom when I lived there and having spent years enjoying the large variety of cherry trees during NYC spring times, nothing prepared me for the sensory saturation that is the cherry trees of Kyoto in full glorious bloom in early April.
In Japan, sakura, ornamental cherry trees and their blossoms,  are a symbol of the ephemeral nature of life – the Buddhist notion that life is overwhelmingly beautiful and short, like a cherry blossom. The rich symbolism of sakura is aptly used throughout the various Japanese art forms.
Cherry trees Philosopher's Walk.Kyoto
Cherry trees in full blossom along Path of Philosophers, Kyoto. Lots of locals and visitors were out enjoying them. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Weeping Cherry Trees.Kyoto Garden
Enormous old pink weeping cherry trees at Saiho-ji Temple  (Moss Temple) in Kyoto  – like pink lace overhead. We also got to practice calligraphy by copying a Zen Buddhist sutra at the temple, which originated in the 6th century and was re-established in 1339. 120 kinds of moss grow in the extensive and beautiful garden. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Cherry trees along a canal parallel to Reisen-dori, just past the hydroelectric power plant's dam & shortly before Kawabati-dori, Kyoto
Cherry trees along a canal parallel to Reisen-dori, just past the hydroelectric power plant’s dam & shortly before Kawabati-dori, Kyoto (Photo: J. Hardin)
LUCKING UPON UOSUKE SUSHI
During the first day in Kyoto, while on foot to visit the Nishijin Textile Center to see a kimono show (Nishijin turned out to be quite far away – my map made it look close by NYC standards), I was walking along the lovely canal in the photo just above and wasn’t entirely sure I was heading in the right direction – and my jet-lag confused stomach began announcing it would appreciate receiving some lunch.  A small, unassuming sushi restaurant came into view up the street just past that spot. This turned out to be one of those fortuitous being-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time experiences.

Uosuke SushiUosuke Sushi, Kyoto (Photo: J. Hardin)

It was still early so it was just the chef and me.  I showed him a card explaining my gluten free requirements in kanji and English and that I had my own individual packet of gluten free tamari. There was some negotiation – Japanese for him, English for me – that also involved a phone call to someone who was somewhat bi-lingual and then he realized he could do it if he omitted the tamago (sweet egg omelet – usually made with soy sauce). So he served me green tea in a gorgeous ceramic cup and began preparing a wonderful chef’s choice lunch – the best sushi I’d ever had.

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Chef Uosuke at work (Photos: J. Hardin)

Uni (sea urchin roe) has never appealed to me when I’ve tried it in the US. As the chef was preparing individual pieces of sushi for my meal, he showed me a large piece of uni to ask if I wanted it. I shook my head no but then reconsidered since it actually looked good and there I was in Japan. It turned out to be sweet and  delicate tasting. Turns out I’d just never had really fresh uni before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASea Urchin. (Photo: en-wikipedia.org)

Two other memorable things happened at this restaurant:
Uosuke has a sophisticated collection of Japanese ceramic tea cups, plates and dishes so you’re apt to be served your meal on something old and quite lovely. He also has a gorgeous ceramic vinegar crock sitting in a place of honor right across from the restaurant’s front door. It’s very old, heavily flashed with ash from the wood fired kiln and partially collapsed during the firing.You can see the unglazed areas where balls of clay were placed and another such jug was stacked on top of it for the firing – the raw balls of clay kept the two pots from sticking together. Old. Simple and lovely. Very wabi sabi – sometimes translated as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete, as exemplified by the rough, simple beauty of Japanese folk crafts – 侘寂 in kanji.  A satisfyingly beautiful piece to me.
Old pot at Uosuke Sushi
Old vinegar crock at Uosuke Sushi (Photo: J. Hardin)
Chef Uosuke also proudly showed off a framed note from Richard Gere, who’d dined there one day – complete with a photo. I guess Gere carries them with him for such occasions. Uosuke asked if I knew the movie, “Pretty Girl”.
I had such a good time at this restaurant and the walk to reach it along the cherry tree lined canal was so pleasant, I returned two more times before we departed for Shikoku Island – the final time with two members of our group, who also enjoyed the place.
After lunch that first day I did finally make it to the Nishijin Textile Center. The walk there included an enjoyable stop at a tiny Japanese clothing store where the shopkeeper showed me a program from a Rolling Stones concert she’d attended; along a river with its wading cranes and small children playing with their parents along its banks; past some old Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines; and through the enormous old Imperial Palace grounds with its huge weeping cherry trees in cascading pink bloom.
KYOTO IMPERIAL PALACE GROUNDS
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Imperial Palace, Kyoto. (Photo:  www.dgolds.com)
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Kyoto Imperial Palace courtyard. (Photo: www.taleofgenji.org)
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Weeping cherry trees on the Kyoto Imperial Palace grounds. (Photo: www.japan-guide.com)
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Elsewhere on the Kyoto Imperial Palace grounds. (Photo: www.planetware.com)
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Aerial view of the vast Imperial Palace grounds. (Photo source unknown)
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Kyoto Imperial Palace, before 1902. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
I stopped several times to ask directions of young people who looked like they might know some English. The last one didn’t know where the address was, consulted an old woman on a bicycle and then walked me there himself – about 15 minutes out of his way. I’m pretty sure he was on his way home from work. Other people in my group also reported being walked to the door of the place they were trying to find.
NISHIJIN TEXTILE CENTER – AT LAST
Arriving at the Nishijin Textile Center, I learned the final kimono show of the day was to begin soon, giving me just enough time to revive a bit and take a look at the textiles and kimonos for sale in their shop. The Center offers the experience of dressing up in one of their everyday kimono and wearing it out and about for a day. Fortunately, I’d already decided to pass on that.
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Nishijin Textile Center building, Kyoto. (Photo: Nishijin)
Weaver at Nishijin. (Photo: www.virtualtourist.com)
Weaver at Nishijin. (Photo: www.virtualtourist.com)
Kimono Show at Nishijin. (Photo: www.japan-guide.com)
Kimono Show at Nishijin. (Photo:  japan-guide.com)
Processed silkworm cocoons. (Photo: livesoftheplanet.blogspot.com)
Processed silkworm cocoons. (Photo: livesoftheplanet.blogspot.com)
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Part of a kimono show at the Nishijin Textile Center. (Photo: tripadvisor.com)
Died threads: (Photo: purpledonsu.blogspot.com)
Died threads: (Photo: purpledonsu.blogspot.com)
Preparing silk thread from the cocoons.  (Photo: article.wn.com)
Preparing silk thread from the cocoons. (Photo: article.wn.com)
Finale of the kimono show I saw
Finale of the kimono show I saw (Photo: J. Hardin)
A cab ride back to the hotel seemed in order after that – and led to the discovery that Japanese taxis are driven by uniformed, white-gloved drivers and their seats are protected by spotless white lace covers.
Kyoto taxi cab with white gloved driver & lace seat covers. (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)
Kyoto taxi cab with white gloved driver & lace seat covers. (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)
WAGASHI-MAKING LESSON
Another Kyoto highlight for the foodie in me was a hands-on lesson in the art of making delicately beautiful wagashi (Japanese sweets) sculpted from doughs made of sweetened glutinous rice flour (mochi) dyed a variety of colors – pink, green, yellow, brown and white. Our attempts at crafting this edible art form to look like cherry blossoms in honor of the season weren’t entirely successful – but they tasted good nonetheless when we got to sample them with cups of matcha green tea served at outdoor tables set up in the shop’s courtyard – and take home the ones we didn’t eat. The sweets shop has been in operation for nearly 150 years.
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Making wagashi from different colored mochi doughs. (Photo source unknown)
How ours were supposed to turn out - recognizable as cherry blossons
How ours were supposed to turn out – recognizable as cherry blossoms. (Photo source unknown)
SESAME TOFU
One day we had lunch at a restaurant specializing in varieties of tofu made fresh daily in Kyoto – including a  quite pleasant, pale yellow version made from sesame seeds instead of soy beans.
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Handmade gome dofu (sesame tofu) – a Kyoto specialty. (Photo source unknown)

 

 

 

 SCENES AROUND KYOTO AND NEARBY NARA
Shinto torii in rain.Kyoto
Shinto torii gate on a rainy day in Kyoto (Photo: J. Hardin)
Statues on a residential street, near a small Buddhist temple
Statues on a residential street, near a small Buddhist temple, Kyoto. (Photo: J. Hardin)
View from a lane, Kyoto
A small canal viewed from a bridge on a residential lane in Kyoto. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Girls in a covered shopping arcade in downtown Kyoto
Girls in a covered shopping arcade in downtown Kyoto (Photo: J. Hardin)
The famous rock garden at the Zen Buddhist Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto.  An interesting feature of The garden was designed so that from any vantage point at least one of the 15 rocks is always hidden from the viewer. It is said that a truly enlightened person can see them all at the same time.
The famous rock garden at the Zen Buddhist Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto. The garden was designed so that from any vantage point, at least one of the 15 rocks is hidden from the viewer. It is said that a truly enlightened person can see all 15 at the same time. (Photo: japan-guide.com)
Giant Buddha hand at the 320-year-old  Hall of the Great Buddha, Todaiji Temple in Nara
Hand of Buddha at the 320-year-old Hall of the Great Buddha, Todaiji Temple in Nara. Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan (710-784). (Photo: J. Hardin)
Persimmon Leaf Sushi - a specialty in Nara. Slices of cured fish are placed on top of sushi rice in a wooden mold and pressed. The block of sushi is cut into rectangular pieces and each piece is wrapped in a persimmon leaf.
Persimmon Leaf Sushi – a specialty in Nara. Slices of cured fish are placed on top of sushi rice in a wooden mold and pressed. The block of sushi is cut into rectangular pieces and each piece is neatly wrapped in a persimmon leaf. (Photo: J. Hardin)
The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) in the Todaiji Temple, Nara. (Photo: taleofgenji.com)
The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) in the Todaiji Temple, Nara. (Photo: taleofgenji.org)
Sika deer outside Todaiji Temple, Nara. They've apparently inflicted damage on visitors. See the warning sign toward the end of this post. (Photo: daviding.com)
Sika deer outside Todaiji Temple, Nara. They’ve apparently inflicted damage on visitors. See the warning sign toward the end of this post. (Photo: daviding.com)
NISHIKI STREET – A FOOD LOVER’S PARADISE
Just off the wider shopping arcade seen in the photo of the two girls above is the Nishiki Street Market (Nishiki Ichiba – 錦市場), a 15′-wide, five-block long, covered walkway lined on both sides with 126 shops, a few small  restaurants, and stands selling ready made foods. Each little shop specializes in a single type of food or product and everything for sale here is locally produced or procured. Referred to as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen”, it’s a food lover’s paradise.
You can view, sample, and purchase every sort of Japanese food and food-related item imaginable here, some unique to Kyoto – fresh vegetables and fruits, a huge variety of Japanese pickles, fresh and dried fish and seafood, meats, dried beans, teas, fresh eggs, vegetables in miso, wasabi salt, fresh tofu and tofu skins, all manner of things on skewers, wagashi and other sweets, freshly roasted chestnuts, sushi,  cookware … and much more. There’s a hand made knife shop founded by Fujiwara Aritsugu in 1560 and operated by the Aritsugu family for over 400 years.
Nishiki Street Market Arcade
Nishiki Street Market Arcade. (Photo: flickriver.com)
Vegetable stall
Vegetable stall. (Photo: theguardian.com)
Roasting chestnuts in a Nishiki Market shop
Roasting chestnuts in a Nishiki Market shop. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Skewered foods
Skewered food vendor. (Photo: concierge.com)
Dried fish & seafood stall
Dried fish & seafood stall (Photo: J. Hardin)
Local Kyoto produce
Local Kyoto produce. (Photo source unknown)
Inside Aritsugu Knife Shop, Nishiki Street
Inside Aritsugu Knife & Cooking Utensil Shop, Nishiki Street. (Photo source unknown)
Beautiful Japanese sweets
Beautiful Japanese sweets. (Photo: travelworld.jpn.co.jp)
SHIKOKU ISLAND
As Don George, our knowledgeable guide, wrote, “Although it is a main island, Shikoku is what most Japanese consider tooi inaka, the deep countryside … a Japan I hadn’t known existed: A place of farms and fishing villages, mountainside shrines and seaside temples, rugged seacoasts and forested hills, time-honored traditions and country kindness.” (George, 2012)
A comfortable bullet train from Kyoto to Hiroshima and then a leisurely ferry ride across the otherworldly Seto Inland Sea delivered us to the port city of Matsuyama – and we were in the magical land of Shikoku.
We encountered rivers so clear you could see through to their bottoms, snow capped mountains with wild cherry trees blooming down their slopes and into the valleys, tiny villages of old tile-roofed houses sporting solar panels, the Milky Way splashing across the sky at night in the mountains of the central Iya Valley, thatch-roofed farm houses several hundred years old and still inhabited, traditionally dressed farmers working rice paddies and fields – if the automobiles, electric and phone wires and solar panels hadn’t been there, you might wonder what century you were in.
We slept on thin futons under Japanese duvets in tatami-matted rooms; soaked in onsens (hot mineral spring baths); bathed in beautiful tubs on open balconies overlooking a wild mountain vista in the Iya Valley; toured a castle atop a hill in Matsuyama – begun in 1602; visited picturesque outdoor food markets; participated in the searing of bonito tataki (lightly charred outside, raw inside) on an outdoor grill behind the fish market in Kochi; ate vegetables picked that same day and fish who had been swimming in the sea a few hours earlier; milled buckwheat between old grinding stones and made soba noodles which got turned into part of our lunch at the little restaurant across the walk; drank local sakes and Japanese sodas called Pocari Sweat and Calpis everywhere; toasted homemade  mochi cakes (a ‘bread’ made from finely ground, sweet glutinous rice flour) on top of a wood stove until they were crispy outside and melting inside at Kaiyu, a peaceful eco-lodge at Cape Ashizuri on the Pacific Ocean; carefully crossed a double-vined bridge spanning the Iya Gorge (I myself made it only a few yards across the widely spaced slats and decided to turn back); visited a paper museum in Ino to see washi (handmade paper) being made; stopped in Uchiko to visit its old Uchiko-za kabuki theater and a traditional candle making shop that’s been in existence for 200 years; climbed around inside the vast and damp Ryuga-do Cave – formed 175 million years ago and containing artifacts, earthen vessels and dwelling remains dating from 300 BC to 300 AD; and took part in a tea ceremony inside the thatched-roof tea house at the Ritsurin-koen, an Edo-style garden.
The Seto Inland Sea, the large body of water separating Japan's large islands of Honshū, Shikoku & Kyūshū and  linking the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan.
The Seto Inland Sea, the large body of water separating Japan’s large islands of Honshū, Shikoku & Kyūshū and linking the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan. (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)
 Matsuyama Castle, high above the town - begun in 1602 by Yoshiaki Katoh, a powerful daimyo (feudal lord) in pre-modern Japan
Matsuyama Castle, high above the town – begun in 1602 by Yoshiaki Katoh, a powerful daimyo (feudal lord) in pre-modern Japan. (Photo: styleofeye.com)
For sale in the Kochi fish market - these fish were swimming in the sea a few hours earlier
For sale in the Kochi fish market – these fish were swimming in the sea a few hours earlier. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Super fresh bonito fillet being seared over rice straw on a grill behind the fish market in Kochi - for our lunch at the restaurant across the street run by the fishmonger's wife
Super fresh bonito fillet being seared over rice straw on a grill behind the fish market in Kochi – for our lunch at the restaurant across the street run by the fishmonger’s wife. (Photo: J. Hardin)
The remote Iya Valley, Shikoku Island. (Photo: onsenmeijin.com)
The remote Iya Valley, Shikoku Island. (Photo: onsenmeijin.com)
Hotel Iya Onsen, overlooking the mountains and the Iya River below.
Hotel Iya Onsen, overlooking the mountains and the Iya River below. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Taken inside cable car going down to the hot spring baths by the Iya River at Iya Onsen Hotel
Taken inside cable car going down to the hot spring baths by the river at Hotel Iya Onsen. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Balcony with bathtub overlooking the mountains at the Hotel Iya Onsen
Balcony with bathtub overlooking the mountains at the Hotel Iya Onse. (Photo source unknown)
Hot springs baths on Iya River
Hot springs baths on Iya River. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Grinding buckwheat for soba noodles
Grinding buckwheat for soba noodles. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Onsen at river, Iya Onsen Hotel. (Photo: discovernihon.blogspot.com)
Onsen at river, Iya Onsen Hotel. (Photo: discovernihon.blogspot.com)
Eating our soba noodle lunch. Our hostess (also our noodle teacher) is an award winning Japanese folk song singer and serenaded us after lunch
Eating our soba noodle lunch. Our hostess (also our noodle teacher) is an award winning Japanese folk song singer and serenaded us after lunch. (Photo: J. Hardin)
The Oku-iya  double vined bridge over the Iya -gawa River. The Heike clan built it to access their riding ground in Mt.Tsurugi about 800 years ago. If an enemy was in pursuit, they could easy cut the bridge.
The Oku-iya double vined bridge over the Iya -gawa River. The Heike clan built it to access their riding grounds in Mt.Tsurugi about 800 years ago. If an enemy was in pursuit, the Heike could easy cut the vines. (Photo: J. Hardin
Inside the vast Ryuga-do Cave near Kochi
Inside the vast, 175 million year old  Ryuga-do Cave near Kochi. (Photo source unknown)
Japanese woman posing for us
Japanese woman posing for us in Kotohira. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Uchiko-za Kabuki Theater in Uchiko-cho, built in 1916
Uchiko-za Kabuki Theater in Uchiko, built in 1916. (Photo: japan-guide.com)
Shop in Uchiko-cho that has made traditional Japanese candles by hand for 200 years. They're made from sumac wax, don't drip & have a clear scent.
Shop in Uchiko where the same family has used sumac wax to make traditional Japanese candles by hand for 200 years. These candles don’t drip & have a clear scent. (Photo source unknown)
Old pines in the Ritsurin-koen, an Edo-style garden. We participated in a tea ceremony in the garden's thatched-roof tea house.
Old pines in the Ritsurin-koen, an Edo-style garden in Takamatsu. (Photo: bonsaitonight.com)
Tea ceremony in the Ritsurin Garden tea house. (Photo:  J. Hardin)
Our abbreviated tea ceremony in the Ritsurin Garden tea house. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Raking the rock garden outside the tea house in Ritsurin Garden. (Photo: flickr.com)
Raking the rock garden outside the tea house in Ritsurin Garden. (Photo: flickr.com)
Kinryō-no-Sato Sake Museum in Kotohira. (Photos: J. Hardin)
Kinryō-no-Sato Sake Museum in Kotohira. (Photos: J. Hardin)
Pocari Sweat vending machine
Pocari Sweat vending machine. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Then there were the white-clad people on pilgrimage to visit Shikoku’s 88 Esoteric Buddhist temples – on foot, in cars and buses, on motorcycles and bicycles. The entire pilgrimage consists of a 1,647-kilometer circuit around the island. An estimated 100,000 people visit all or at least one of these temples each year.
Modern Shikoku pilgrims
Modern Shikoku pilgrims. (Photo: japan.nanoda.com)
Shikoku pilgrims in 1909
Shikoku pilgrims, 1909. (Photo: davidmoreton.com)
Temple 37, Iwamoto-ji, in Shimanto, with its painted ceiling panels
Temple 37, Iwamoto-ji, in Shimanto, with its painted ceiling panels. (Photo source unknown)
Another view of the ceiling of Temple 37. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Another view of the ceiling of Temple 37. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Outside Temple 37 we met a man of indeterminate age in the process of making his 12th such pilgrimage on foot. He looked to be quite fit.
Man on 12th Shikoko Island pilgrimage
Man outside Temple 37, a stop on his 12th Shikoko Island pilgrimage. (Photo: J. Hardin)
His pilgrimage book
His pilgrimage book. (Photo: J. Hardin)
KAIYU ON CAPE ASHIZURI
One of the most enjoyable places we stayed was an informal, family-run and oriented eco-resort called Kaiyu on the semi-tropical southwest side of Shikoku Island. It’s near  scenic Cape Ashizuri and has its own onsen (hot springs bath) overlooking Ooki Beach on a lovely section of the Pacific Ocean. Kaiyu’s onsen uses no chemicals and is fired with wood. Everything about it has been designed to help quests reconnect with nature.
Just to make the point that Kaiyu is a magical place for your body and soul, this is the scene we woke up to our first morning there:
Double rainbow over Kaiyu. The chimney is from the eco-lodge's onsen.
Morning rainbow over Kaiyu – actually a double rainbow. My phone’s camera wasn’t good enough to capture the second arc above. The chimney is from the wood-burning furnace for the eco-lodge’s onsen. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Graceful Pacific Ocean beach in front of Kaiyu
Graceful Pacific Ocean beach in front of Kaiyu. (Photo: Kaiyu)

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Inviting onsen at Kaiyu
Inviting onsen at Kaiyu. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Kaiyu website)
Wood burning furnace heating the onsen's pools
Wood burning furnace heating the onsen’s pools. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Looking out over the beach from a room at Kaiyu
Looking out over the beach from a room at Kaiyu. (Photo: Kaiyu website)

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I’ve written about lovely Kaiyu and its delightful owners, Mitsu and Tae Okada, in a previous post so refer you there for more information and more photos of the eco-lodge, the onsen, beach, and Tae’s beautiful food:

http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/04/25/japanese-food-gluten-free/

Also see Kaiyu’s website.
CHIIORI – A 300 YEAR OLD MINKA
We stayed one lovely night at Chiiori (House of the Flute),  a 300 year old minka farmhouse purchased in the 1970’s byAlex Kerr, author of the interesting book Lost Japan. Minka (traditional farmhouses) are built of rough wood beams and posts held together without nails, and are usually covered with a thick thatched roof. No tatami mats on these floors – just the dark beauty of the old wood planks. Kerr’s house is now part of the Chiiori Trust, a non-profit organization  working to restore sustainable tourism and agriculture in the rural Iya Valley of Shikoku Island. These photos of Chiiori demonstrate its charms:
The local tourist bureau delegation greeting us on our arrival at Chiiori
The local Tourist Bureau delegation greeting us on our arrival at Chiiori. The man on the far left looks so much like a Japanese version of my Uncle Sidney I could hardly take my eyes off him. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Large main room at Chiiori
Large main room at Chiiori. (Photo: fujijardins.com)
Another view of Chiiori's main room, with its old cooking pit in the center
Another view of Chiiori’s main room, with its old cooking pit in the forefront. (Photo source unknown)
The kitchen at Chiiori. You can see old tonsu step chests at the left and the supports for the thatch roof at the back
The kitchen at Chiiori. You can see old tonsu step chests at the left and the supports for the thatch roof at the back. (Photo: justintwood.wordpress.com)
Looking up the mountainside at the front of the minka. (Photo: george-osd.blogspot.com)
Looking up the mountainside at the front of the minka. (Photo: george-osd.blogspot.com)
Looking out over the Iya Valley & the mountains out Chiiori's front door
Looking out over the Iya Valley & the mountains out Chiiori’s front door. (Photo: vagabondrtw.blogspot.com)
I also highly recommend watching Davina Pardo’s lovely short (15:37) documentary MINKA for the story of another ancient Japanese farmhouse. The film is a meditation that will leave you feeling serene and refreshed.

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In 1967, Yoshihiro Takishita, a Japanese law student at the time, and John Roderick, an American journalist based in Tokyo, rescued an ancient farmhouse found in the snow country of Japan and rebuilt it on a hill in the Tokyo suburb of Kamakura, where it overlooks the sea.  Minka is an intimate story about architecture, friendship, memory and the meaning of home.
At the time, Takishita knew nothing about the work of renovating minkas. He figured it out as the project went along – a labor of love for his adoptive father, Roderick. Since then, he has dismantled, moved and renovated 35 other minkas in Japan and other countries. He also writes and lectures about architecture, collects and sells Japanese antiques. He has established an NPO for the preservation of traditional houses in Japan and is president of the Association for Preserving Old Japanese Farmhouses.
I also recommend reading Roderick’s wonderful book about his home, Minka: My Farmhouse in Japan.

Minka

If you’re still curious about beautiful old minka farmhouses and want to see more pictures of them, here’s what you get if you google imagery for ‘minka farmhouses‘.
LIFE SIZED DOLLS IN THE IYA VALLEY
Our stop at the doll maker’s house was completely serendipitous. Don had noticed her ‘scarecrows’ last year when the tour drove through her village. In the intervening year, he’d done some research and learned a bit more about her.  This year she was standing out by the street adjusting the pose of one of her dolls just as we were driving by.  So we stopped, Don asked in his fluent Japanese if she happened to be the artist, and she graciously invited us to walk up the driveway to the front of her house, where her work table is located along with a benchful of her dolls.
Bench of Shikoku doll maker's work in front of her home in the near-abandoned village of Nagoru
Shikoku doll maker’s work on a bench in front of her home in the near-abandoned village of Nagoru. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Ayano Tsukimi, the doll maker, with more of her creations
Ayano Tsukimi, the doll maker, with more of her creations. (Photo: emptylighthouse.com)
The 64 year old artist’s name is Ayano Tsukimi and the small village is Nagonu. There were  hundreds of people living and working in this village in the remote Iya Valley when she was a child living with her family here. Now the village’s school has closed for lack of students and there are only 36 residents left besides her.
Tsukimi has been coping with these losses by making life sized dolls to look like the people who have moved away or died. Ten years ago, after she’d planted seeds that failed to sprout, she decided she needed a scarecrow for her garden so made one to resemble her father. Since then she has made hundreds of dolls.  They are placed out in fields, alongside the road, up in trees , in and around her house – and whole classrooms of them populate the abandoned school building.
Classroom of dolls in the abandoned school
Classroom of dolls in the abandoned school. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Dolls - teacher with students at the abandoned school
Dolls – teacher with students at the abandoned school. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Don George with principal doll in front of the old school
Don George with principal doll in front of the old school. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Ayano Tsukimi crossing the bridge near the old school where many of her dolls reside
Ayano Tsukimi crossing the bridge near the old school where many of her dolls reside. (Photo  businessinsider.com.au)
More of her dolls –
Life sized doll of the artist's father
Life sized scarecrow doll of the artist’s father. (Photo: globalpost.com)
Doll with fishing poll. (Photo:
Doll with fishing poll. (Photo: inside.com)
Doll up in tree
Doll in a field. (Photo: digitaldeconstruction.com)
Doll of a boy at a fence
Doll of a boy at a fence. (Photo: beautifuldecay.com)
Doll of a child on the school's staircase
Doll of a child on the school’s staircase. (Photo: artribune.com)
Getting to see these life sized dolls and meet their creator, a woman of great feeling and personal dignity, was a moving experience.
A Berlin-based film maker named Fritz Schumann was also moved and intrigued. He has made a short documentary about Ayano Tsukimia and her dolls called The Valley of Dolls. The film (in Japanese with English subtitles) is wonderful – both beautiful and sad. It’s posted on Vimeo – you can watch it here. I highly recommend it.
Documentary about Ayano Tsukimi & her life sized dolls: "The Valley of Dolls"
Documentary by Fritz Schumann about Ayano Tsukimi & her life sized dolls: “The Valley of Dolls”. (Photo: vimeo.com)
A coda to this story: A few of us were in need of a bathroom while we were looking at the many life-sized dolls around the outside of this artist’s house so Don asked if she would allow us to use hers. We expected a squat, possibly in an out building. Instead, she invited us into her home  (which is also filled with her dolls, including the entire wedding party in fine clothes below), where she had one of Japan’s finest: A multi-function Toto – complete with a heated seat.
Wedding part dolls inside the artist's home
Wedding party dolls inside the artist’s home. (Photo: J. Hardin)
You just never know!
MY FAVORITE INSTRUCTION SIGNS
Sign warning that the deer roaming free in the park area of this temple in Nara may bite, kick, butt & knock down frail people.
Sign warning that people may be bitten, kicked, butted, or knocked down in the Deer Park next to the  Todaiji Temple in Nara. 100’s of sika deer roam freely here. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Multifunction Japanese toilet. It may be hard to make out but the 3rd illustration on the right is saying not to wash a baby in the toilet.
A multifunction Japanese toilet made by Toto. It may be hard to make out, but the middle illustration on the right is saying not to wash a baby in the toilet. (Photo: J. Hardin)
The control panel of an especially complex Japanese toilet
The control panel of an especially complex Japanese toilet made by Toto. (Photo: cybersoc.com)
Instructions about what's not allowed at this playground
Instructions about what’s not allowed at this playground. (Photo: J. Hardin)
BUDDHISM – SO PRACTICAL
Here’s a small example of why it’s so pleasant to be in a country with a strong Buddhist legacy:
We were outside Tokushima City visiting Ryōzenji, Temple 1 of Shikoku’s 88 Esoteric Buddhist temples on the pilgrimage route and the most holy. Amidst all its beauty, it came into my awareness that we hadn’t taken off our shoes to enter the temple – and neither had the many pilgrims or anyone else. Since we’d had to take off our shoes to enter every other temple, many restaurants and hotel rooms, this seemed odd so I asked our Japanese guide, Hiro, about it.
His response was that it was a practical matter: This temple receives so many visitors that everyone’s stopping to remove shoes and then later put them back on would create a traffic jam.
I’d encountered something similar in Bhutan: At a Buddhist temple on the side of a mountain, we had left our shoes in an anteroom and were seated on the floor in the shrine room having been told to sit in a way that the bottoms of our feet were not facing the shrine since facing them toward it is considered disrespectful. I and another woman were trying to figure out a respectful position we could sit in comfortably and realized at the same moment that there wasn’t one. So we leaned over to tell our guide that we couldn’t sit like that and would wait outside. He looked surprised and told us we could stay, that it’s only asked that people do their best.
Now this is a religion with beliefs and practices a person could live with!  It takes into account practical matters. It teaches its followers to do their best instead of instilling guilt for not obeying some rigid dogma. And if you’re having trouble dealing with something you’re feeling – such as envy or hatred, it offers huge, ferocious gods who are more powerful than your feeling and can help protect you from it instead of threatening you with eternal damnation.
Fudō Myō-ō - A wrathful protector god venerated by the Shingon sect of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism.  Fudō converts anger into salvation. (Photo: Handbook by Ishii Ayako)
Fudō Myō-ō: A wrathful guardian god venerated by the Shingon sect of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. Fudō protects all living things by burning away impediments and defilements to aid them toward enlightenment. (Photo: Handbook by Ishii Ayako)
The Dalai Lama describes Buddhism this way:
(Photo: quotesvalley.com)
(Photo: quotesvalley.com)
And here’s something interesting about religion in Japan: Most Japanese don’t believe you have to follow only one religion. It’s common for families to have Shinto ceremonies for their children at birth and then again at ages three, five, and seven. People usually have a Christian wedding and then a Buddhist funeral. The interlinking of the various religions in people’s lives is often summed up in the phrase ‘Born Shinto, Die Buddhist’.
If you want to read more about this pragmatic approach, I recommend looking at ‘Japan’s Pick and Mix Religions’ on a website called God Knows What … an irreverent look through the worlds of religion, anthropology and skepticism.
Our shoes outside the kabuki theater in . (Photo: J. Hardin)
Our shoes outside the Uchiko-za Kabuki Theater. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Inside Ryōzenji, Temple 1 on the Shikoku pilgrimage. (Photo: redbubble.com)
Inside Ryōzenji, Temple 1 on the Shikoku pilgrimage. (Photo: redbubble.com)
Water garden outside Temple 1. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Water garden outside Temple 1. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Fountain on grounds of Temple 1 - with statues honoring the souls of babies. (Photo: J. Hardin)
Fountain on grounds of Temple 1 – with statues honoring the souls of babies. (Photo: J. Hardin)
AND THERE WAS MUCH MORE! If I’d included every interesting thing, this post would be many times longer.
A THANK YOU TO MY FELLOW TRAVELERS
In addition to the warm welcome we received from people we met in their restaurants, homes and out of the way places, the people who made up our GeoEx traveling group added a big bonus to the whole set of experiences: Don George, our American guide who’s fluent in Japanese, knowledgeable, generous, funny and truly enjoys people. Hiro Kasagi, our Kyoto-based Japanese guide, who shared his broad range of knowledge with us and made sure I wasn’t eating anything that would trigger my gluten allergy. And all eight of the other people on our tour – all of whom possess a deep knowledge on some arcane topic and, most importantly, have a great sense of humor. Laughing deeply and frequently with a congenial group of people is a vacation all on its own.
So dewa mata, Japan – see you later. I hope to make a return visit.

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And when I met up with my cousin during a long San Francisco Airport layover on the way home, she didn’t recognize me at first. When she finally realized who I was, she said she’d noticed a dark haired woman coming up to her and thought, “Who is this Asian woman stopping to ask me for directions?” Others since then have also said I now look a tiny bit Japanese. What is it about a few satisfying weeks in Japan that changes a person’s appearance?

REFERENCES

George, D. (2012). Japan’s Past Perfect. National Geographic Traveler. See http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/shikoku-japan-traveler/

Kaiyu Eco-lodge. See its website:  http://kaiyu-inn.jp/en/menu_01.html

Kavanagh, C. (date unknown). God Knows What … an irreverent look through the worlds of religion, anthropology and skeptism. Japan’s Pick and Mix Religions. See http://godknowswhat.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/japans-pick-and-mix-religions/

Google. (5/11/2014). Imagery for ‘minka farmhouses’. See https://www.google.com/search?q=minkas&es_sm=91&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=WQVwU7TJH7TQsASDqoGwCw&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1276&bih=865#q=minka+farmhouses&tbm=isch

Pardo, D. (2011). Minka. See the documentary at http://vimeo.com/20658635

Roderick, J. (2007). Minka: My Farmhouse in Japan. See:  http://www.amazon.com/Minka-Farmhouse-Japan-John-Roderick/dp/1568987315

Schumann, F. (2014). The Valley of Dolls. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/01/valley-of-dolls-japan_n_5240780.html

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Roasted Black Soybeans

 

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After our first dinner at Kaiyu, the lovely eco-lodge at Cape Ashizuri on rural Shikokku Island, Japan, our host, Mistuhiro Okada, brewed us a delicious tea. It had a comforting, deep taste reminiscent of dark roast coffee but earthier tasting.
The tea turned out to be made from roasted black soybeans – 焙煎された黒大豆 in kanji (according to the Babylon English-to-Japanese online  translation site).
Black soybeans are called kuromame in Japanese – so the tea brewed from the roasted beans is called kuromame cha.  It’s caffeine free, provides a number of health benefits – and I highly recommend it to you as a satisfying and pleasant tasting beverage. You can even eat the beans after they plump up in the brewing process.

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To make tea from roasted black soybeans, simply pour boiling water over 1-2 tablespoons of them in a mug and let them steep about 10 minutes. I put the beans in a tea strainer that fits into the top of a mug so I can easily remove the plumped up beans to eat as a snack or for another use.
Bags of roasted black soybeans can be found at Japanese and Asian food stores. This is an example of what a bag of them looks like:

 

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If you’re unable to find roasted black soybeans available nearby, you could order them online. Here’s an organic version of them available on a site called Wawaza: Traditional Japanese Products.
The package looks like this:
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The product description says:

100% organic Japanese roasted black soybean tea (“Kuromame cha”). Commonly consumed by Japanese for weight loss and for maintaining health.

Also, the beans become soft after brewing and make for a delicious, healthy snack after your cup of tea!

Black soybeans, a rare legume, are a known source of compounds called isoflavone and anthocyanin. Scientific studies have linked their use to:

  • Weight loss
  • Promotion of lipid metabolism (breaking down fats)
  • Cancer prevention
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Reducing risk of postmenopausal arteriosclerosis

Savory aroma of roasted beans with a mildly sweet taste.

100 grams (3.5 oz) in resealable, moisture-proof bag. Makes about 40 cups.

 

 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF KURAMAME (Oshima, 2002)
Black soybeans have traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to clear toxins from the body and promote urination. In Japanese folklore, the bean also cures a sore throat.
Preliminary studies suggest the black soybean offers a variety of useful health benefits.
Animal researchers at Shizuoka Prefectural University showed that the black soybean surpasses the yellow soybean in preventing menopausal symptoms. Rats who became menopausal when their ovaries were removed had a significantly higher decline in their blood-cholesterol levels when fed black soybeans vs yellow soybeans. At the end of four weeks, the blood cholesterol of the black soybean group was up to 31 percent lower than a group fed no soybeans. The yellow soybean group was only 16 percent lower at most.
The researchers suspect the substances responsible for this difference reside in the black soybean’s hull.
Black soybeans contain anthocyanin, a polyphenol found in high concentrations in blueberries and raspberries. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant which helps neutralize unstable oxygen molecules that are damaging to cells.
There is also anecdotal evidence that the black soybean’s seed coat contains something that decreases blood pressure among hypertensive patients, lowers blood-sugar levels among diabetics and even reverses graying hair.
Japanese folklore has it that black soybean tea is beneficial for chronic diseases such as hypertention, diabetes and osteoporosis
It has long been known that all varieties of soybeans are a good source of protein. They are now attracting medical interest worldwide for their potential to prevent serious diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

 

KURAMAME (BLACK SOYBEANS) IN JAPANESE CUISINE

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Traditionally, kuromame, are eaten cooked with sugar and soy sauce as part of a celebratory New Year’s feast called osechi ryori. Osechi ryori consists of many colorful dishes presented together in special boxes called jubako and eaten communally to celebrate the New Year. Each dish in the feast serves as a symbol or wish for the coming year.
The kuromame dish represents the wish for good health in order to work hard. Now, because of the beans’ numerous health benefits, people have started eating them in a variety of ways to try to stay healthy all year round. (Dinh, 2013)
MITSU’S JAM MADE FROM ROASTED BLACK SOYBEANS
At Kaiyu, Mitsu used the roasted black soybeans plumped up in our evening tea to make a delicious jam he and his wife, Tae, served with breakfast the following morning. We didn’t get their recipe, but here’s my guess at what was in it:
  • Half cup of plumped up roasted black soybeans, ground or mashed
  • Maybe a tablespoon of organic, local honey
  •  A little ground cinnamon, to taste
When I have enough plumped up beans (have to stop snacking on them after brewing the tea!) to make some jam, I think I’ll add a little grated orange or tangerine peel too. Mitsu’s version was spreadable and a little chewy.

 

ROASTED, SPICED BLACK SOYBEANS
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This interesting preparation of dried black soybeans (not the roasted kind) appears on a recipes and health tips blog called kabochasandcoconutbutter – “about all things sweet, healthy + delicious”. The blog is by a Canadian fitness competitor living in Korea and the recipe is her creation.
She roasted regular (ie, unroasted) black soybeans (kuramame) with her favorite seasonings to produce a crispy, chewy, healthy and yummy snack.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g black soy beans (unroasted)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp natural sea salt
  • 2 packets stevia (or sweetener of choice)
  • coconut oil (optional- I didn’t use it, but if you want a crispier result, I’d recommend tossing your beans with some kind of oil)

Method:

1. Rinse soy beans and soak overnight, changing the water a few times.
2. Combine seasonings and toss with rinsed beans. (If you are using oil, first toss beans with oil).
3. Bake in a single layer on parchment lined trays. I used 350 for 40 minutes, shaking once halfway. You may need to adjust your cooking time accordingly.

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Please let me know if you too get hooked on black soybeans, roasted or otherwise, and come up with some tasty ways to prepare them.

 

images-1Many thanks to Amanda McKee, fellow traveler in Japan, for her most helpful input to this post.

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Dinh, M.L. (2013). (Japanese Culture) The Meaning Behind Osechi Ryori: Traditional New Year’s Food in Japan. See http://en.rocketnews24.com/2013/01/03/%E3%80%90japanese-culture%E3%80%91the-meaning-behind-osechi-ryori-traditional-new-years-food-in-japan/

Kabochasandbutter.com. (2013). See recipe at http://kabochasandcoconutbutter.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/spiced-roasted-black-soy-beans/

Oshima, S. (2002). It’s a drink and a snack: black soybeans. Japan Times. See http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2000/07/03/general/its-a-drink-and-a-snack-black-soybeans/#.U2BPqK1dXF8

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

 

Japanese Food – Gluten Free

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Gluten intolerance is no longer considered to be a fringe medical concept. Researchers around the world are fully aware that methods of modern wheat cultivation pose a serious health problem to humans, other animals and the environment. (Batalion, 2013)
Rates of gluten sensitivity, including gluten allergy and celiac disease, are on the rise around the world. And more people are becoming aware of the adverse, inflammatory and addictive effects of consuming modern wheat and wheat products so are eliminating gluten from their diets to protect their health. The global market for gluten free foods is expected to reach $4.3 billion USD by 2015. (Brown, 2012)

Color Images of Tokyo, Japan

Knowing how much wheat is part of the modern Japanese diet, I took a lot of care to stay healthy and avoid gluten while in Japan recently. It wasn’t easy and I got ‘glutened’ a few times in spite of my best efforts.
My gluten allergy  symptoms include: A body temperature spike about 20 minutes after consuming even a tiny amount of gluten, followed by the feeling of having been hit over the head with a shovel that renders me feeling exhausted and dumb for an hour or more – in addition to the longer term inflammation gluten produces in my body. Gluten affects the whole body, including the brain, skin, endocrine system, stomach, liver, blood vessels, smooth muscles and cell nuclei. These effects are serious and have long term adverse health consequences. (Kresser, 2014)
Many of you probably are also reacting adversely to gluten and are being treated by your doctors to suppress the various symptom it causes instead of addressing its underlying inflammatory response that’s responsible for your skin conditions, allergies, autoimmune diseases, etc.

 

ORDER GLUTEN FREE MEALS FOR YOUR FLIGHTS
I was flying on United and was able to request gluten free meals for all four of my long flights. While the meals I received were indeed GF, they were also completely tasteless. While people around me were eating things that looked somewhat interesting, I got plates of dried up chicken with no seasoning or sauce of any kind and unseasoned steamed veggies. Apparently the United chefs equate GF with boring or nearly inedible. I had almonds and dried fruits with me on the long San Francisco-Osaka flight and also some GF mochi cakes and Japanese chocolates on the return flight but there’s a limit to how much of these a person can consume during a trans-Pacific flight and snacks aren’t entirely nutritious.

 

ALLERGY FOOD CARDS
Part of my preparation for this trip was to order some food allergy cards in kanji and English from Select Wisely, a website offering translation cards for a wide variety of food and drug allergies, special diets and medical needs.
On one side, my cards say in English and Japanese kanji characters:

I am allergic to wheat, rye, barley, oats, soy sauce, malt, flour and gluten including sauces, gravies, breads, cereals and foods made with these ingredients.

On the reverse side, they say in both languages:

Please prepare a meal for me that does not contain these foods. Thank you.

I had the cards laminated in plastic at a local copy center so they would look official and also increase the chances of their being returned to me. What happened the few times I was ordering a meal somewhere I couldn’t make myself understood in English was that the chefs themselves came out of the kitchen to speak with me. The waitress and chef examined the card and conferred between themselves in Japanese, I spoke English to them since my Japanese is limited to simple words like arigato, a delicious meal arrived with something else substituted for the miso soup  or other gluten-containing dish and it all turned out quite well.
You can order cards for yourself at http://www.selectwisely.com/
Another useful site for allergic travelers is Gluten Free Passport. They offer resources for communicating your gluten free and other allergy free needs with restaurants around the world. See http://glutenfreepassport.com/allergy-gluten-free-travel/gf-translation-cards/

 

GLUTEN FREE ORGANIC TAMARI

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I also took along many packets of gluten free organic tamari to use in lieu of soy sauce (soy sauce is traditionally brewed with wheat) for sushi and sashimi. Amazon sells it – 12 boxes of 20 individual packets each for around $40. Those 240 packets will last you a good long time. That the tamari contains no GMO anything in addition to being GF is a big plus. See  http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Gluten-free-Non-GMO-Tamari-Packages/dp/B003FSX1X2

 

 

KANJI FOR GLUTEN-CONTAINING INGREDIENTS AND FOODS
It may also be helpful for you to be able to recognize the kanji characters for things you can’t eat if you’re avoiding gluten – translations thanks to an online English-to-Japanese translating site:
  • Wheat:  小麦
  • Wheat Flour:  麦粉
  • Soy Sauce  醤油 , 正油 , むらさ
  • Rye:   黒麦
  • Barley:   大麦
  • Malt:    麦芽
  • Oats:   からす麦
  • Miso:   味噌 (most probably contains gluten)
  • Tempura:   天婦羅 (most probably made with wheat flour)

 

MAKING JAPANESE FOOD GLUTEN FREE
While there, I became aware that I could have eaten much more broadly in Japan if a few easy substitutions had been made.
After some days on my own in Kyoto (during their spectacular cherry blossom time), I met up with my small group for a 12-day tour part of my Geographic Expeditions group for a 12-day tour called Journey Through Ancient Japan with Don George. We spent some days in and around Kyoto then  continued on to rural Shikoku Island to the south.
don-george-travel-writer
Don George is a seasoned travel writer and everything you’d want in a traveling companion and guide – knowledgeable, smart, funny, generous, open to people and experiences, and fluent in spoken Japanese.
Akihiro Kasagi, who’s from Kobe and is a Government Certified Tour Guide based in Kyoto, was our excellent local guide for the whole trip.
When I signed up for the trip, I asked GeoEx if gluten free eating in Japan would be possible. They checked, said yes and I was well taken care of by Hiro. When we stopped for snacks along the road, he read the labels of numerous packages of mochi sweets to tell me which were wheat flour-free so were safe for me to eat. Mochi is made from sweet, glutinous rice so I’d never even thought they might contain gluten. He also arranged for excellent and interesting GF substitutions at our various hotels, ryokans and restaurants, sometimes sending a small dish back to the kitchen to be exchanged for another dish I could eat. I learned much about Japanese food from him.
One of the most enjoyable places we stayed was an informal, family-oriented eco-resort called Kaiyu on the semi-tropical south west side of Shikoku Island. It’s near  scenic Cape Ashizuri and has its own onsen (hot springs bath) overlooking Ooki Beach on a lovely section of the Pacific Ocean.
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Kaiyu-Inn is run by a charming couple, Mitsuhiro and Tae Okada. Mitsu builds the hotel’s furniture and stokes the onsen’s furnace with recycled wood. Tae is an inventive, natural cook who turns local organic produce and fish into  gorgeous food for her family and the hotel’s guests.
There were a number of delicious-looking dishes Tae served that contained soy sauce or dashi so I couldn’t try them.  As our GeoEx group was leaving, she asked me what I can eat. At the time, I couldn’t think of a short answer that would be relevant to her so said something vague – and have been thinking of a better, fuller answer ever since.
Here it is, geared for Tae’s Japanese cooking:
  • Use gluten free tamari in place of soy sauce (it’s readily available in Japan) and tastes just like soy sauce).
  • Substitute rice flour for wheat flour in dishes like tempura.
  • Use a gluten free miso (ie, a miso made with rice (kome or genmai), buckwheat (sobamugi), or millet (kibi) instead of one made with gluten-containing barley (mugi ortsubu), wheat (tsubu) or rye (hadakamugi).
  • Check the ingredients lists for other ready made sauces and products to make sure they don’t contain wheat, barley or rye.
I don’t think these changes would sacrifice any of the inventiveness and yummy taste of Tae’s – or anyone’s – delicious cooking.

 

Read more about the delightful KAIYU-INN.
Read more about the long term dangers of eating GLUTEN.
Read more about INFLAMMATION.

 

REFERENCES

Batalion, N. (2013). Wheat & GMOs Getting Us ALL Sick: Gluten Intolerance. Before It’s News. See http://beforeitsnews.com/health/2013/03/wheat-gmos-getting-us-all-sick-gluten-intolerance-2477592.html

Brown, A. (2012). Gluten Sensitivity: Problems of an Emerging Condition Separate from Celiac Disease. Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 6:1, 43-55. See MedScape: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/757916_5

Gluten Free Passport: Communicate Around the World with Restaurant Translation Cards for Gluten & Allergy Free Diets. See http://glutenfreepassport.com/allergy-gluten-free-travel/gf-translation-cards/

Kresser, C. (2014). 50 Shades of Gluten (Intolerance). Huffington Post. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-kresser/gluten-intolerance_b_2964812.html

Select Wisely: Translation Cards for Food and Drug Allergies, Special Diets and Medical Needs. See http://www.selectwisely.com/

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.