~ Takoyaki Party Day ~
Let’s have a little talk about how visiting a Japanese home means tithing of great joy and gifts. Who are the gifts for? Well, the hosts of course! Buying the gifts, that my friends, will be you and the other guests responsibility. Significant gifts are welcomed, but something homemade or maybe a specialty of the prefecture will be more appropriate. For example, if I knew I was going to a friend’s hometown in Hiroshima and I was from Kyoto, I would make a quick stop at the station for some mochi（もち） . If you have gifts, specialties, or home cooked meals from your home, then something of the sorts would be quite acceptable.
This day was my second time of going to a Japanese home and this time it was for a takoyaki （たこ焼きーたこやき）party. Takoyaki, in a simple term, are round dough balls filled with octopus (or any meat or veggie you so desire) and is topped with ginger, takoyaki sauce, bonito flakes, wakame, and mayonnaise.I have had takoyaki in Japan before; however, this was my first time making it from scratch. First, you must mix together batter for the breading.
Second, you cut up the ingredients for the filling and toppings. Next, you grab out the takoyaki machine and start cooking! Now, the actual process of cooking takoyaki is a bit more complicated than it seems. You must time everything just perfectly, otherwise you will either end up with undercooked dough or burnt dough. Either way, timing is crucial when it comes to the art of cooking takoyaki. You start off by greasing the pan, next you will pour the liquid batter until the liquid reaches about halfway to the surface. Next, you sprinkle in some green onions, cabbage and drop one thing of your chosen meat into each individual hole. Once done, you pour more batter on top and wait for a few minutes for the cooking process to begin. Now, here is the tricky part, the turning of the takoyaki. Below is a video example of how professional takoyaki is made: ALL VIDEO CREDITS GO TO ITS OWNER
We were not so professional in this aspect of takoyaki making, but they did turn out quite delicious! To compliment your takoyaki, I suggest topping it off with condiments such as wakame (seaweed), mayonaise, and okonomiyaki sauce!
~ Arrival Of New Students ~
Once the cherry blossoms begin blooming, you know the time for the arrival of new students to Japan is at hand. One by one, the Japanese tutors from Chukyo University （中京大学ーちゅうきょうだいがく）picked people up from the Centrair International Airport and took them to the apartments located Shiogamaguchi（塩釜口ーしおがまぐち）. Quite an interesting experience, and this time I had the opportunity to view it as a previous semester’s student. The first few days will be a bit quiet; however, once you get a group of new students together with a few old students, this is where the food adventures begin. For the first night for a few students, we went toan okonomiyaki（お好み焼きーおこのみやき） restaurant named, Hasepon(はせぽん）.
If you are in Shiogamaguchi, I highly recommend trying this place out. Not only do they have delicious okonomiyaki, but also monja（もんじゃ）, yakisoba（焼きそばーやきそば）, and sashimi（刺身ーさしみ）dishes.
Oh, and did I mention that the restaurant is a huge fan of Dragonball Z? Note there is Goku on the left of the photo and Vegeta on the right. That’s right, I know my Dragonball Z characters. Also, unlike some places in the area, this restaurant lets you flip and mix your own monja and okonomiyaki. Just think of it as flipping an overloaded pancake, and well if you mess up then I hope the people around you was not wearing white that day.
As I previous said before, once the new students start trickling in the spring air finally breaks through the harsh winter weather and shows Nagoya its gorgeous nature side. For sunny days and amazing weather, I suggest taking a day trip to a few parks(こえん）such as the following places: Tsurumai Koen,Meijo Koen, Tokugawa Garden, or even a quick run to Nagoya Castle. You will be graced with the presence of sakura trees blooming all over the area.
By the way, if you hear people mention something about o-hanami（花見ーはなみ）go to it! This is a time when the sakura trees are in full bloom, like those pictures you see on the internet about Japan being covered in pink flower petals! But this time, you get to see it with your own two eyes. I will have photos posted up later of what my hanami day was like in my next update.
Well, this ends my update for today, but I hope you all look forward to the rest of my adventure updates. Until next time everyone ~