Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jeepney Press January-February 2010 PAGE 14

by Neriza Sarmiento-Saito's


This is the year of the fearless and powerful but sometimes ferocious TIGER. Matching the tiger’s boldness in the midst of the current economic slowdown, this column will feature some young Japanese who took part in this year’s “COMING OF AGE CEREMONY.” They are my students at Osaka University’s School of Foreign Studies, majoring in Philippine Studies. For this issue, ERI KIMURA and SACHIKO MATSUOKA interviewed KURT JAN TAKEUCHI who celebrated his 16th birthday on New Year’s Day, that is why he was named JAN.

ERI, nicknamed Kimchi is a member of the Lacrosse team. Her favorite word is “KAWILIWILI” (pleasant) which also best describes her character. Witty and with a ready smile for anyone, she plans to study abroad, presumably in the Philippines.

SACHIKO is cool and is never caught offguard. She has a very positive outlook in life and a genuine interest in people. Although her favorite expression is “BAHALA NA!” (come what may). She has her eyes set on working in an airport after graduation.

ERI: Saan ka nakatira?
K. JAN: Dito sa Osaka. Malapit sa Kyobashi.
SACHIKO: Ilang taon ka na?
K. JAN: Labing-anim na.
ERI: Ilan kayo sa pamilya?
K. JAN: Lima kaming magkakapatid. Panganay ako
Chris ang pangalan ng Papa ko at si Julie naman ang Mama ko.
SACHIKO: Nag-aaral ka pa ba?
K. JAN: Oo, First year Senior High School student ako sa Seijo Koto Gakko kung saan nag-aral si Hideo Nomo, yung sikat na baseball player.
ERI: Ilang beses ka nang nakapunta sa Pilipinas?
K. JAN: Apat na beses na.
SACHIKO: Saan ang paborito mong lugar sa Pilipinas?
K. JAN: Sa Manila. Tumira kasi ako roon ng limang taon noong nasa elementary ako. Kaya mas marami akong nakakatuwang experiences doon na di ko makakalimutan. Okey kasi ang mga Pinoy. Masaya lagi. Pero di naman ako mahilig pumunta sa mga "shopping malls" gaya ng marami. Sa bahay lang ako lagi
ERI: Ang husay mo namang magsalita ng Filipino at Nihonggo. Kung nag-iisip ka, anong lenguahe ang gamit mo?
K. JAN: Nihonggo lang. Sa bahay, nag-uusap kami ng mga magulang ko at mga kapatid sa wikang Filipino, kaya lang pag nag-aaway kami mas madaling sabihin sa Nihonggo.
SACHIKO: Masaya ka ba sa pinapasukan mong Senior high school?
K. JAN: Okey naman kasi may iba pang Pinoy na estudyante roon. Lahat kami e nahihirapan sa Kanji.
ERI: Ano naman ang gusto mong maging trabaho sa hinaharap?
K. JAN: Kusinero. Mahilig kasi akong magluto. Mana ako sa Mama ko. Marunong akong magluto ng adobo.
ERI at SACHIKO: Talaga?! Ang suwerte naman ng Mama mo.
K. JAN: Lahat naman kami ng mga kapatid kong sina Sean Christopher, Miharu, Hikaru at Joshua ay tumutulong sa paglilinis, paglalaba at paghuhugas ng plato.
ERI: Okey ka talaga.
SACHIKO: Maraming salamat sa interbyu.


by Sally Cristobal-Takashima

Is it really 2010 already? Weren't we just welcoming the new millennium? Gosh! What were we all doing while 10 years passed. Well, I guess we all had our eyes on the ball, working hard, raising our children, paying our bills, helping others in need, trying to be better persons hoping to finally discover the kingdom within. In ancient times, New Year was celebrated in Spring because people followed the Lunar Calendar. In 1873, 5 years after the Meiji Restoration Period, Japan adopted the Gregorian Calendar and started celebrating NewYear on the first day of January just like many Western countries. The first 3 days of New Year is a very special time for the Japanese. Young and old flock to the temples to say solemn prayers. Others choose to pray and remember their ancestors in the Butsudan at home. Since Obasan and Ojisan both passed away, it has become the duty of my husband and myself to hang the kadomatsu on the front door, get some flowers for the Genkan and the Butsudan, display the Kagamimochi (2 large omochi with an orange on top). We both arrange the Osechi dishes in the Jubako (lacquered boxes with layers). Recently it seems that Japanese children prefer to eat Western food than Osechi ryori but for the adults, no New Year celebration is complete without Osechi. It is fun to remember all the names of the dishes arranged in the Jubako but my favorites are Sake Steamed Shrimps (ebi no sake mushi), Candied Dried Sardines (Tagukuri) and the Grilled Sea Bream (Tai no shio yaki). It is always best to eat the Simmered Dishes (Nimono) and the Sweet Rolled Omelet soon as the taste changes faster than the other dishes.

The Grilled Sea Bream or what's left of it will be made into a Miso Soup later and the Kagamimochi will be consumed in different dishes later. With the many holiday and bonenkai parties during the previous year and the first 3 days of New Year, it is just right to give one's stomach a break and this is where the Nana Kusa Gayu (7 Herb Porridge) comes in. This is served on the 7th of January. It is like a warm arroz caldo soothing the stomach as well as the whole body.The set of 7 herbs is sold in all yaoya san and supermarkets.

The Japanese pays attention to Hatsuyume or the first dream of the New Year. To have a good dream, many believe that placing under one's pillow a picture of the Seven Gods of Fortune (Shichifukujin) riding on their Treasure Ship (Takarabune) will bring a good dream. Wait! How does one know a good dream? The version of a good dream in this case is seeing Mt. Fuji, a hawk and eggplants. Talaga... no joking! Sige, punta ka sa Wikipedia. Gosh! How can I see all this 3 combination in one dream? Yeah- that will be one of my mission this year, to find people who have actually saw these 3 items in a dream. By the way, going back to the Seven Gods of Fortune, there is an anime in popular culture about a school club with seven members. Each of them has the attribute of the Shichi-fukujin.

Super ginaw sa Osaka and more so sa Kyoto where I sometimes hear Mass. It seldom snows in Kansai but if it does, it's for a couple of days and heat patches really sell well. Anyone out there who knows a mantra for keeping warm? Please share it to save on our electricity bills. We recently had friends from Sydney who toured Japan for their Silver Wedding Aniversary. Rey and Marissa Manoto are both active community leaders in Sydney. The Philippine Community Council headed by Rey recently won the Presidential Award (Banaag Award) for Filipino Individuals and Organization Overseas. One of the memorable moments of their visit to Japan was staying in the World's Oldest Hotel. The Hoshi Ryoku Ryokan located in the Awazu Onsen area of Komatsu in Ishikawa Prefecture is entered in the Guiness World Record as the World's Oldest Hotel. It has been owned and managed by the same family for 46 generations. Rey and Marissa were so pleased with their stay there. The current owner even prepared a delicious meal to take on the Thunderbird train express train that took them from Ishikawa ken to Kyoto. Delia Nakashima, Linda Sakai and yours truly took them to the Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion) and we all enjoyed seeing the Rock Zen Garden in Ryoanji Temple.

If you have never set foot in Kyoto, you have never lived in Japan. "The best things in Kyoto are reserved for those willing to walk. So try walking at leisure through some parts of Kyoto simply to savor the atmosphere and life of the city" says Yokoso Japan, a travel leaflet published by Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO Website http://www. ) Another "must" is the Boat Ride down Hozu River. From Kyoto Station, it takes only 12 minutes by rapid express train to get to JR Kameoka station, the boarding site for the Hozu River Boat Ride. Boats have heated seats from January to March. For details, check out their website: http://www.hozugawa or call 0771-22-5846. Kyoto Tourism Council (KTC) extends their invitation to their Kyoto Winter Special Events. "The events offers a unique opportunity to experience the "fairytale like lantern festivities, spend time with the enchanting Maiko and savor the exquisite Kyoto cuisine. KTC adds that it is a chance of a lifetime to discover the timeless wonder of Kyoto in Winter. The exclusive viewing of world heritage and national treasures offers the public a rare chance for an intimate experience of the profound beauty of traditional Kyoto." For details contact

For those who have plans to discover more of Japan, I'd say make it Kansai for 2010. The Kansai region comprises of 10 prefectures: Fukui, Hyogo, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Osaka, Shiga, Tokushima, Wakayama and Tottori Prefectures. Kansai boasts of many tourist attractions including the five UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. Website

"Just one Kansai Thru Pass gives you access to Kansai trains, subways and buses! Just one pass takes you from Osaka Jo Castle to Meriken Park, Kiyomizu-dera Temple to Todai-ji Temple, Lake Biwa to Mt. Koya and of course to Doton-bori as well. With the purchase of a Kansai Thru Pass, one gets a FREE guidebook full of useful information. A child's ticket cost 1,900 yen and 3,800 yen for adults. Considering it is good for 2 days talagang bargain. O ano pa ang hinihintay ninyo. Kita kits tayo sa Kansai.

Lastly, I am happy to mention that my daughter, Mari, got married to his fiancee in November. They met in Arizona when they were both doing their undergraduate studies. Joey was left behind to finish graduate school. It was Mari who was always around when I need help using the computer to send out JP articles. Their wedding reception was held in a Banquet Hall on the top of the World Trade Center Building in Hong Kong. Congratulations to both of you! It was a lovely wedding!

And to all faithful Jeepney Press readers, a very Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and your families.

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