A Yakitori Recipe

For 2 people

What you need

  • 6 chicken wings
  • Soy sauce
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Sugar

What to do

Put the chicken wings in a small plastic bag. Add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and a grated clove of garlic. Grate the ginger to get the same amount as the garlic and add it to the mixture with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Firmly knot the plastic bag so that nothing can come out. Gently knead the concoction to mix every ingredients and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven at 180° C. Take the chicken out of the plastic and arrange it on an oven-safe plate. Let it cook for about 25-30 minutes.

As a side dish, you can prepare carrots. Simply cut 2 carrots Julienne style and fry them in a pan with a little bit of olive oil at low temperature. Once they look softer, add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 of sugar and set the stove to high for about 1 minute in order to caramelize the sauce.

Serve with warm Japanese rice, and voilà!

Yakitori

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Painting review

I am no arts specialist, but we had to write a review of a painting in class. Since I chose The Great Wave by Hokusai, I thought I would post it here.

Tsunami_by_hokusai_19th_century

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is one of the most famous paintings from Japan. It was woodblock printed by the artist Hokusai between 1830 and 1833, during the Edo era. This technique is typical of the ukiyoe genre, which literally means “pictures of the floating world”, and was considered as the modern style of painting during its time. The Wave is the first of a long series of paintings, which all include a view of Mount Fuji, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. The painting is ostensibly simple and can be divided into three different parts: The mountain, the boats and the waves caused by a storm on the sea.

Mount Fuji has always been a symbol of beauty and has been considered holy by plenty of Japanese civilizations through the ages. It is no wonder that several artists, including painters and writers, got inspired by this enormous creation of nature. Its size in this picture make it seem like a detail. However, the mountain is crucial to this scenery, and this is why; First, it is the only visible land behind those high waves and situated right in the middle of the hollow formed by the sea. This accentuates the beauty and greatness of Mount Fuji. Secondly, the amount of snow on the peak implies the cold context of the picture and is enough to give you a shiver just by watching the poor men on the sea. Although very light, the colors in the sky create a perfect balance with the depth of the waters.

The three boats and the men on them are the elements that make the scenery so lively. This is just a picture, and yet, we can feel the movement and the passionate anger of the sea, the supposed cold and fear in front of the great wave. The fishermen bring a traditional touch into this modern painting for its period.

The sea is indeed drawn in a modern style. The shades of blue and the accentuated contouring of the waves make the painting so unique and alive, especially compared to Hokusai’s other views of the mountain. The foam formed by the waves looks like claws wanting to grab Mount Fuji.

Finally, we can tell that the strength of the Great Wave Off Kanagawa resides in its astonishing colors and breathtaking scenery. We understand without doubt why it made his work so famous and popular.

3.11

Five years ago, a tragic grief struck Japan. As everyone in the United States can exactly remember the place they were and what they were doing at the time they realized a kamikaze crashed into the World Trade Center building on  September 11th 2001, I do precisely remember where I was, and what I was doing when I realized one of the most powerful earthquake shook Sendai and the rest of the country, as well as all the consequences it caused shortly after on March 11th 2011.

I was 16 back then. I was doing my second year of high school in Berlin, Germany, far away from my family, as an exchange student. I was having a hard time fitting in at school and at my guest home, so I felt quite lonely at that time.
On Friday morning, I slowly woke up as it was a day off, and checked my phone, because it’s always the first thing teenagers do. I read my best friend’s text message:

“Is your family in Japan doing fine?”

I couldn’t sense how tensed those words were supposed to be, mostly because I was still half asleep.

“Sure, my uncle and his wife had a baby! Can’t wait to meet him!”, I replied.

“No, that’s not what I meant… Haven’t you seen the news?!”

It took my breath away. It has always been clear that my mother’s country had never been safe from natural disasters. I opened Google as fast as I could, but “Japan” was the only word I could type. “One of the strongest earthquakes of all time”, “tsunami drowning villages”, “nuclear explosion” … The horrifying titles kept coming, despite the lack of key-words. So I reached for the phone and called my parents. No answer. The events were processing in my head. I was still too confused to understand all the news. Then, I finally received a call from my father.

“They’re ok”, he said. “They don’t seem to have any internet connection but we managed to reach your aunt.”

That was a relief. At least my family was doing fine. It didn’t prevent me from crying while watching the news on German national TV, but I felt like it was not linked to me anymore. At least that was what I thought.

On Monday morning at school, everyone was talking about it of course, but something surprised me. Instead of empathy, or even pity, I heard a blameful tone in most of the students’ voice. They were reproaching Japan for being a country that had always been proud of their nuclear power and were telling out loud how the Japanese deserved what happened. In Germany, especially in Berlin, a lot of people think about the environment, which is a good thing, but they apparently also hate anyone who wouldn’t. I also care a lot about the environment myself, and think it’s stupid that the Japanese government brags about their nuclear plants, but I also think it’s as stupid as believing that’s the spirit of every Japanese citizen. My family over there lives in Miyagi, which is the prefecture right above Fukushima. My aunt explained to me later that the population around her area were almost split in half: those who wanted to stop using nuclear power right away and those who wanted to keep it as a national pride. Still, is that really a reason to blame a whole population and think the thousands of victims were well deserved!? I can’t understand this point of view, especially when Germans went through a similar situation. So many people didn’t and still don’t make any difference with the will of the national-socialist party with the citizens’ during World War II. I guess in this globalized world, where the technology allows the information to be frontier-free, we can’t really talk about nations anymore. I hope we will all be able one day to see each other as individuals, citizen of the same planet, instead of some lousy follower hiding behind a certain government.