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Friday, August 26, 2011

Japaneats その12 – おでん - Oden

As we've seen before, despite its reputation for delicacy Japan is no stranger to stodgy food. As 夏 (なつ - natsu - Summer) burns itself out and the nights start to cool down again the おでん carts will start to reappear; the steaming bowls of brown stuff they serve up are guaranteed to prove that Japan isn't always form over function. It's definitely not pretty and the taste might not be for everyone, but おでん holds a very special place in the Japanese heart.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

芸者 (げいしゃ) - Geisha

芸者 have become a bit of a "thing" for people over the past few years, abruptly going from a shorthand symbol of Japanese culture to a talking point in book clubs and living rooms all over the world. As ubiquitous as they are in paintings and cute little pop culture references, the reality is that 芸者 are an endangered species and comparatively few people - Japanese or otherwise - ever get to see one in the flesh. As you might expect then, misunderstandings and half-truths abound. They're commonly thought of as hostesses, courtesans and concubines and while none of these are completely wrong in a historical sense, the devil is in the detail.