The Japanese can be very seasonal people, going out of their way to enjoy each season for what it has to offer. Food is the same, with different meals eaten at different times of the year. Japan’s summer is hot and humid, so people naturally like to eat things that keep them cool, like cold soba (buckwheat noodles) and soumen (angel hair noodles dipped in sauce and eaten). A favorite of ours is hiyashi chuka, a popular dish that’s basically cold ramen noodles served in a plate of tangy sauce, with various ingredients piled on to taste, and many restaurants serve this dish in the hot summer months. Another famous food eaten in the summer is unagi, or Japanese eels, which are cooked over an open flame, painted with teriyaki sauce and served on rice. Eating eel in the summer is thought to help give you stamina to deal with the heat, and this practice has been around for a while — summer unagi is mentioned in the Manyoshu, a collection of poems dating back to the 8th century. The traditional day for eating unagi was yesterday, and all through Japan restaurants prepared hundreds of servings of the popular dish.
One of the more interesting aspects of Japan are the geinojin (entertainers), a sprawling class of actors, singers, comedians, swimsuit idols, talk show hosts, and anyone else who appears on TV for one reason or another. Everyone wants to be in the public eye, and there are many schools set up around Japan to train young people so they can have a chance at making it big someday. As with most other aspects of Japanese life, there is a strict system of senpai (senior) and kouhai (junior), with stars who have been in the business longer having a higher status than the newer members, although this system breaks down somewhat when a given person’s popularity starts to wane. Sometimes it seems that, as long as you have a genuinely original angle that no one has thought of before, just about anyone can end up on Japanese TV. Bobby is a man from Nigeria who’s turned into quite a popular tarento (“talent”) on Japanese television these days, popping up on various variety, comedy and even cooking shows. He’s not very good at Japanese, and always seems to mess up in funny ways, although I think he’s doing it on purpose.
Because I’m American and my wife is Japanese, we want our kids to grow up bilingual, but it can sure be a challenge. To help them learn more English, we send them to the U.S. every summer, where they go to various summer camps and interact with our family over there. For the next two weeks I’ll be on my own, as my wife and kids will all be in the U.S. I’ll have fun, driving around our prefecture in my Miata, taking myself out to Japanese onsen (hot springs), playing video games in my underwear, and running the air conditioner on full blast.
J-List is honored to be able to sell Domo-kun, the lovable brown monster that is the official spokesmonster of NHK, Japan’s version of the BBC. We’ve got dozens and dozens of really cool Domo-kun items, from plush toys to pens to keychains and more, including the “really big Domo-kun” stuffed toys for your room. Browse our excellent selection of Domo-kun products today! “Domo” is a useful Japanese phrase that can mean almost anything, from thank you to excuse me.