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Thursday, November 17, 2011

お酒 (おさけ - osake) - Sake

お酒 or "rice wine" as it's sometimes mistakenly called, is a piece of Japanese culture and history that's been filling flasks and seasoning dishes for the better part of 2000 years. In fact, domestically it's known as 日本酒 (にほんしゅ - nihonshu) or "Japanese alcohol", which should give you some idea of its sway. With 2000 breweries currently operating in Japan and exporting internationally, the お酒 business appears to be booming - it now comes in as many varieties as wine or beer and can accompany cuisine from all over the world. It can be served hot in 冬 (ふゆ - fuyu - winter), cold in 夏 (なつ - natsu - summer) or at room temperature in between; you won't be left wanting for choice if you want to experience お酒 for yourself.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Places to visit in Hyogo 8: 宝塚 (たからづか - Takarazuka)

宝塚 is a suburban city located a short distance north of 神戸 (こうべ - Kobe) and 大阪 (おおさか - Osaka), on the eastern side of Hyogo. Its name, amusingly, means "treasure pile" and there are certainly shiny trinkets to be found there, thanks in part to a politician and businessman determined to make 宝塚 more than a sleepy commuter town. After several attempts, he finally struck gold with the creation of a musical theatre group now known as the 宝塚歌劇団 (たからづかかげきだん - takarazuka kagekidan - "Takarazuka Revue"). As a counterpoint to 歌舞伎 (かぶき - Kabuki), the 歌劇団 features an all-female cast and its flashy shows are still the city's most famous drawcard after nearly 100 years. I think that's our cue.