When will Japan become self-sufficient?

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like today will be sunny after all as the forecast is now saying the rain will come tomorrow and last through Tuesday. It's not looking much cooler though-highs all week will be in the low to mid 30s.

The latest data shows Japan continues to depend on imported food.  Japan's Agriculture Ministry says the food self-sufficiency rate in fiscal 2016 fell for the first time in 6 years. 

Ministry officials say the country's food self-sufficiency rate in fiscal 2016 stood at 38 percent, down one percentage point from the previous fiscal year. This makes it second lowest ever. The lowest was 37 percent in fiscal 1993.

It's tough to say if Japan will ever be completely self-sufficient due to the large population and the comparably small size of land for farming. But with increasing technology and a declining population, shouldn't it be increasing...even a little?

Japan continues to have the lowest level of self-sufficiency among developed countries...you'd think with the high level of technology in Japan, someone would have come up with some way to feed the country, wouldn't you?

For comparison, Australia, USA, Canada, and France are all at around 150% whereas only South Korea (44%) and Japan are under 50%.

Let's hope that PM Abe will change his focus to things that are actually important to the people in Japan, rather than important to him and his party.

Have a great day!

Finding Aboo

Good morning everyone,

Today is looking nice, so you'd better enjoy it while you can because they are calling for rain for the next three days...

An Aldabra giant tortoise on the lam from the Shibukawa Animal Park here since Aug. 1 was apprehended in a forest only 150 meters away from the facility on Aug. 16.

Okayama city resident Seiichi Tonai, 39, and his 15-year-old son Akira saw the news of the escaped tortoise, named "Aboo," and after doing some research, found that giant tortoises liked to hide out in shady places. The father-son duo went looking for the fugitive in the forest near the zoo, and after only 15 minutes, discovered Aboo leisurely walking in a wooded area only 150 meters from where she had escaped.

The giant tortoise eats fruit following its return to Shibukawa Animal Park in Tamano, Okayama Prefecture, on Aug. 16, 2017.

The some 50-kilogram escapee was carted back to the zoo on a wheelbarrow, and Tonai and his son collected the 500,000 yen reward money that had been put up for the animal two days earlier. After eating some fruit and enjoying care for the first time in 15 days, the estimated 35-year-old Aboo seemed in good health.

"I'm glad she wasn't hurt," Tonai said. "We'll use the reward money to eat something delicious as a family." Akira added with a smile, "This made for good summer memories."

What a nice summer story. It'll be easy for that kid to write about what he did during his summer holidays, eh?

Have a great day!

Fun bikinis...from where else but Village Vanguard

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like we can expect it to be hot and humid for a while yet-temperatures for the rest of the week will be hovering in the mid 30s. Today and tomorrow will see a mix of sun and clouds while Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be cloudy with a chance of rain.

With Japan currently on summer vacation, school uniforms are hanging idle in closets. That doesn’t mean the iconic outfits aren’t still inspiring fashion designers, though.

Moira Kuchikaseya, head of Moira Design, has repeatedly worked styling cues from schoolgirls’ sailor suits into her creations, starting with the aptly named Sailor School Swimsuits she unveiled last year. Originally available in orthodox white and navy, the unique one-piece is now offered in an eye-catching olive green. While it isn’t a hue you’re likely to see on legitimate school uniforms, it’s definitely an intriguing color for swimwear that manages to be eye-catching without resorting to intense hues or plunging necklines.

Moira Design has also rolled out a brand-new design for 2017, in the form of the Sailor Marine Swim. Unlike the Sailor School Swimsuit, which sticks to the modest cut used for P.E. swim class uniforms in Japan, the Sailor Marine Swim is bikini.

The two-piece swimsuit is actually part of a three-piece set, since it includes the jaunty cap seen in these photos. While the string-sided bottom is pretty skimpy, there’s actually a lot of coverage up top, with the draping color keeping the sun off the wearer’s upper back.

▼ The top is held in place by wide shoulder straps and a tie in the back.

While the snazzy olive color of the Sailor School Swimsuit isn’t an option, buyers do have their choice of pink or sky blue for the Sailor Marine Swim.

Of the two new suits, the 12,000-yen olive Sailor School Swimsuit is the less expensive, though at 13,500 yen for the Sailor Marine Swim the price gap isn’t all that wide. Both can be ordered through novelty retailer Village Vanguard’s online shop, as can the rest of Moira Design’s swimwear lineup.

Which do you think suits me? Blue, Olive or Red? I'm leaning more towards blue...ha ha!

Have a great day!

Have you ever tried white goya?

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like we may see some rain off and on today. It'll clear up for a couple of days and then we are looking at cloudy skies on Saturday and more rain for Sunday and Monday. Highs all week will be between 31C and 33C. If it's not too wet on Sunday morning, I'm going to head for an outdoor run-if I can get it in, it'll be the first one this month.

Goya are the number one vegetable in my apartment at the moment-I think I've had goya champul (?) 3-4 times in the past 2 weeks. Goya are the go-to vegetable for Hiroshimans who are looking to keep their houses/apartments cool. Lots of people plant them outside their large ground floor windows and because they are quick-growing vines with large leaves, they're the perfect vegetable to use to create a natural curtain to keep the sun off your house and hopefully feel a little cooler in the summer.

And, on top of that, they grow goya which are a quite bitter vegetable, but taste pretty good in champul (?). However, last week I got a white one for the first time. Have you ever tried one?
white goya
They're pure white on the inside and outside and they're a lot less bitter than their green cousins. Next year, if you're planting goya in your garden and you're not a big fan of the bitter ones, give the white ones a try. Of course they're still bitter-they are goya after all...but they're tons less bitter and now I'm trying to think what other dishes I can make with them for next year...any ideas?

Have a great day!

DIY bath bombs

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like today will be mostly overcast before turning mostly sunny tomorrow and then cloudy again the next day. Sunday and Monday are both looking like rain, but it's a bit early to say for sure. Highs all week will be in the mid 30s.

In western countries people generally forego a bath in favor of a quick shower, but for many people in Japan, a soak in the bath is part of their nightly ritual. Baths are a great way to relax after a tough day, and sprinkling in some aromatic bath powder or tossing in a fizzy bath bomb can really enhance the experience.

Store-bought bath bombs aren’t too hard to come by, thanks to handmade cosmetics store Lush spreading the popularity of their creation, but bath bombs are also pretty easy to make yourself. Not only that, if you pop by one of Japan’s 100 yen shops (the equivalent to a dollar store back home), you can get all the ingredients you need to make it yourself for just a few hundred yen!

Baking soda – 100 grams (3.5 ounces)
Citric acid – 50 grams
Katakuri starch (or potato starch) – 50 grams
Water – small amount, in a spray bottle

Scented bath powder – 2 to 3 pouches, or
Essential oil – 5 to 10 drops

To make:
In a bowl, add the baking soda, citric acid, and starch, and mix well. Add in your scented bath powder or essential oil if desired and mix. Then, using a spray bottle, give the mixture about five spritzes of water at a time while stirring. If starts fizzing, you’ve added too much water! You want to add just enough for the entire thing to feel damp, and to start holding together when pressed with your fingers.

Next, pack the mixture into molds to dry. Silicone molds work best, as they allow for easy removal, but any shape will do. Let sit for a half to a full day, until completely hardened, before removing from the molds. Once dry and hardened they’re ready to use, or to give away to friends as great little personalized gifts.

The bath bombs hold together pretty well, also making it a fun activity to work on with little kids as they can help stir, pack, and remove from the molds. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to pass the time when you’re indoors trying to avoid the scorching summer heat!

What kind of scents would you use? I'm partial to woody smells like cedar or hinoki.

Have a great day!