Beaujolais Nouveau is here, but partying is down

Good morning everyone,

There's a chance of rain tonight and into tomorrow and then it's going to get really cold on Sunday with a high of only 10C and an overnight low of 4C. After that, it'll slowly warm up throughout the week, but not much. All week we're looking at highs below 15C.

The Beaujolais Nouveau 2017 vintage went on sale in Japan on Thursday, but with people's tastes maturing, the traditional celebration of the French wine's seasonal release is on the decline.

As imports of the wine from the Beaujolais region are expected to fall for the fifth consecutive year, the alcoholic beverage industry is studying various ways to boost demand.

"Now that the Japanese drink wine more frequently than before, the event (of celebrating the release of Beaujolais Nouveau) has become not so special," an industry official said.

The volume of imports has almost halved since its peak in 2004 and has been on the decline since 2013, so as part of efforts to promote the drinking of Beaujolais Nouveau with family and friends at home, wine vintners and importers have posted recommended accompanying meal recipes online.

As for me...I'll stick to beer, thanks. It's cheaper and tastes good all year round! We don't need an excuse to have a party if we have beer! Having said that...if I can find the party that the woman on the left in the picture above is at, I might be tempted...ha ha!

Have a great day!

I need to try some of these...

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be another sunny but chilly day today. You might as well get used to it, it looks like this whole week will feel a lot more like winter than fall. They're still saying we can expect rain on Saturday and highs around 10C on Sunday with an overnight low around 3C or 4C for Sunday and Monday.

Japan puts a lot of effort into personal appearance, as thorough grooming and stylish, seasonal attire are considered by many to be prerequisites for going out the door in the morning-and this applies to both men and women here. But recently women on Internet forum Oshiete Goo highlighted the fact that often a man is at his most attractive when he’s not actively trying to look cool.

The discussion was kicked off when one woman, going by the screen name kozakura, posted:

What are the little gestures and moments that make you think you could fall for a guy? For me, it’s when a man gets a serious look on his face when he’s putting something together or repairing something. Or when he’s talking to an animal…that gets me every time.”

From there, others were quick to chime in with their personal favorites, some of which, like kozakura’s mention of household repairs, included old-fashioned masculine activities, or simply the overall atmosphere of the strong silent type.

“I like the look a guy gets in his eyes when he’s driving and checks the next lane before crossing over into it.”
“When he reaches up to change a lightbulb, or gets something off a high shelf and hands it to me with a smile.”
“For me, more so than talkative guys, I like men who are sort of resonant. Guys who have a cool quietness to them, and who only show their smile to people they’re really close to, those are the kind of guys who get my heart racing. Seeing them smile, there’s a childlike cuteness that just pierces my heart.”

But as some women pointed out, even the most mundane motions can be enough to make them feel drawn to a guy.

“When a guy takes off his glasses, to casually scratch his eye, wipe the lenses, or put in eye drops.”
“The way his hands look when he’s dividing up a large plate of food for everyone at the table.”
“The way he walks. If I think a guy is cool or handsome, he always has a gallant stride. It’s like his attitude and life philosophy are all reflected in the way he walks.”
There’s something attractive about a guy who’s looking off into the distance. It’s like he’s getting ready to take on a big challenge, or chase after a fervent dream…or maybe he’s just admiring the view.”

What do you think? Are any of these really important? Or does it depend on the person? What things do you think make a man attractive?

Have a great day!

Sushi hack

Good morning everyone,

There's not much to like about the weather this week. Today won't be too bad...comparatively speaking. I mean, it's already 4C cooler than yesterday, but it's only going to get worse as the week goes on. We may see rain on Saturday and a daytime high of 9C (that's not a typo) on Sunday. It's colder than back home!

When it comes to picking up a quick meal on the way home after work, I never pass up the chance to try some sushi. So when I heard about a new hack that turns supermarket sushi into a restaurant-quality meal, I was keen to try it out immediately, stopping by a store to grab a variety pack that would let me test it out on a range of different flavours.

While some hacks require a bit of skill, the beauty of this sushi hack is its pure simplicity. All you have to do is whack the sushi pack into the microwave and, for a two-person serving like the one I bought, blast it on 500 watts for 30 seconds.

According to what I’d heard, half a minute in the microwave transforms the sushi, making it taste as if it was put together by a sushi craftsman. When I took the sushi out of the microwave, I was pleasantly surprised, as the tiny morsels looked even better than they did before. The neta on top of each piece was glisteningly moist, which is just how they would look if they had been freshly moulded by a sushi chef.

Heating up fresh sushi goes against all the usual rules of enjoying the traditional raw delicacy, so I had my doubts as to whether the heating process would make the sushi vinegar in the rice mix taste bitter or overpowering. Starting off with a tuna piece, I popped it into my mouth, and as I tasted the blend of flavours, a huge grin spread across my face. It was absolutely delicious, and totally different to the cold supermarket sushi I was used to eating.

As I tried all the different varieties, the thing that really stood out was the mouth-feel of the rice. The heating process warmed the rice to just the right temperature so that it tasted like it was just made by a sushi chef, as the rice would naturally be slightly warmed with the heat from the chef’s hands during the moulding process. Sushi that’s refrigerated for a long time at the supermarket loses some of the flavour in the rice, as the vinegar cools and the grains separate slightly, but by heating it in the microwave, the vitality of the rice was brought back to life, resulting in a fluffy, just-cooked texture.

All the neta toppings were twice as delicious, regaining their freshness and becoming juicy and soft. They might not have transcended to quite the same level as a handmade morsel from a high-end restaurant like Sukiyabashi Jiro, but the flavours were well beyond that of what I usually experience from the supermarket and competing with the likes of good quality servings you’d find at any Japanese kaitenzushi restaurant.

One of the most surprising transformations was the squid sushi, which went from bland and hard to sweet and soft, just by using the heat from the microwave. After trying out this technique, I won’t be able to go back to eating cold squid sushi from the supermarket again!

I was most surprised that nobody had ever told me about the hack before, given the extreme difference it made to the taste of a humdrum supermarket sushi meal. Heating the sushi slightly made the 842-yen meal taste as if it were worth at least twice that amount, making it a great way to enjoy a high-quality meal at half the cost. I definitely recommend trying it out and am eager to know what others think about the sushi transformation, so if you do give it a go on your store-bought sushi, let me know how it turns out for you.

Have a great day!

Over the top?

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like today is going to be nice with the sun rolling in later and a high of 20C. Tomorrow will be a bit cooler-the high will be 16C and then it's going to cool down little by little until we're looking at daytime highs around 11C! Some parts of Hiroshima will see overnight lows below 0C! In November?! What's going on?

For generations, the artisans of Ishikawa Prefecture, located in the Hokuriku region along the northern coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu, have been renowned for their skill with gold leaf. Ishikawa-produced gold leaf covers Japan’s famous Golden Pavilion, and in more recent years the delicate and dazzling material has been used in Ishikawa to decorate a beautiful sightseeing train and even soft serve ice cream.

Now, though, gold leaf can be used to adorn your face, as part of a luxurious service offered by Ishikawa hot spring inn Kissho Yamanaka.

Kissho Yamanaka is located in the town of Yamanaka Onsen, a hot spring resort that’s been drawing visitors for centuries (the community is even mentioned in Oku no Hosomichi, or The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a collection of poems by 17th century poet Matsuo Basho).

As one of its accommodation packages, Kissho Yamanaka is offering a gold leaf/collagen face pack treatment, which it claims will leave the skin shiny and firm, helping to alleviate slackness and discoloration.

The staff also realizes that having your face covered in gold is a rare opportunity, and one that many people would like photos of, either to remind themselves of the decadent skin treatment or to share on social media. Because of that, they’ll be happy to snap photos of you while you’ve got the mask on, just as long as you loan them your camera or phone.

Pricing for the package that includes the gold face pack treatment (called the ougon pakku no zeitaku puran, or “gold pack luxurious plan”) start at 23,500 yen, which sounds like an exorbitant amount until you remember that it also includes one night’s accommodation in the inn, access to the on-site hot spring baths, and both dinner and breakfast, the former being a gourmet kaiseki course meal made with local vegetables, seafood, and other ingredients. The package is being offered between now and December 28, making it an attractive option if you’re looking to splurge on a Christmas gift for yourself or someone special, or just happen to have some extra cash left over in your personal spending budget at the end of the year that you might want to use on your English teacher...ha ha! Are you tempted?

Have a great day!

Wanna' try a Trump burger? Get in line!

Good morning everyone,

Make sure you enjoy today-it's the only nice looking day this week with mostly sunny skies and a high of 17C. The rest of the week is looking either cool or rainy or both...

In amongst all the speeches and outings held during Trump’s first visit to Japan as U.S. President, the one thing that stood out for many people was the fact that during his visit to a golf course with the Japanese Prime Minister, the two chose to eat hamburgers.

While some criticised the decision to shun the country’s UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage-listed traditional cuisine, others immediately started searching the Internet to find out where they could get their hands on a burger deemed worthy to be served to the U.S. President.

It turns out that the burger comes from a small Tokyo business owner who operates two burger stands in the city – Munch’s Burger Shack in Shiba (pictured below) and Munch’s Burger Stand at Toranomon.

Both located in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, which is home to many foreign embassies, making it one of the most internationally diverse districts in the capital, the area is filled with burger joints catering to locals and foreigners with discerning burger palates. To be selected to serve the President of the United States is a huge accolade for the small business, and it’s been driving customers to visit in hordes to get a taste of what the president enjoyed.

The burger that Trump dined on was the “Colby Jack Cheese Burger“, which costs a mere 1,200 yen. At this price, which is significantly less than a night out at Sukiyabashi Jiro where Obama dined during his Japan tour, anyone can afford to try a presidential meal, and that’s exactly what everybody did yesterday, when it was reported that the Toranomon outlet had completely sold out of burgers by 2:30 p.m.

According to staff, their recent appearance on television – which revealed the news about their star customer – attracted so much attention that they were unable to keep up with demand, especially given that their Shiba outlet was closed on Monday, which drove even more customers to their small Toranomon store.Yanagisawa, who was sent to the golf course to cook his signature burger for the two leaders, said that after their meal, President Trump shook his hand and told him the burger, which he requested to be well-done, was “very good”. Using 100-percent American Angus beef patties, the burgers are known for being juicy and delicious. This is one of the best burger joints in Tokyo, and it’s continually busy with customers, despite being a 20-minute walk from the nearest station.

Now that the burger stand has become even more well-known following Trump’s Japan visit, there’s even more of a wait to dine inside, but according to happy customers, it’s worth it.

So next time you’re looking for a place to enjoy a burger in Tokyo, Munch’s Burger is the place to go. Now we’ll just have to wait and see whether or not the Trump Burger will appear on their menu in future.

Restaurant information
Munch’s Burger Shack / マンチズバーガー シャック
Address: Tokyo-to, Minato-ku Shiba 2-26-1
Hours: 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. (weekday lunch) 5:30 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. (weekday dinner) 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Saturdays) 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (Sundays and public holidays)
Closed Mondays

Tempted to eat like Trump? I don't looks pretty good to me...

Have a great day!