Skip to main content

Obasaan English Club

A few times a month I teach an English for Obasaans club around my area. I get the greatest amount of enjoyment teaching these women, they are so fun. Once a month we have a pot luck and they each bring their own homemade specialties. This week was natural foods week, and boy, did they bring some very unique dishes. The way it works is that I eat while they explain to me how they made their own dishes in English. Most of them just sit there taking notes and eating a little here and there.

(N.B. These are students only!)

obasaanclub1

The rice dish you see on the left is full of fava beans and garlic with bacon. Very delicious. And then there’s the pudding like dish which is plain yogurt and dried mangos. Next to that is a tofu cake full of rum raisins and vanilla extract. Yum!

obasaanclub4

From the noon position is a cinnamon and walnut apple cake made with all organic ingredients. At one o'clock there’s a lemon cake with lemon peels on top – Fabulous. The bottom half was made with oranges and at nine o'clock there's the mango cake with coconuts sprinkled at the top.

All of these cakes were made by using a rice cooker! Yes, I know what you are thinking….But really, there’s a technique that these mothers employ to produce delicious cakes using a standard rice cooker machine, no ovens.

obasaanclub5

In ancient China, there was a garden once called “ The Garden of the Forgotten Greats,” which was basically a retirement home for the Emperor’s concubines once they had reached a certain age. That’s what I think about at times when I’m with these women, that at one point in their lives they were ‘greats’ and that they had meant something to someone and now that they have lived passed their prime are forgotten to the point that they longer even cast a shadow in society. Left to fate.

When I think about who’s working tirelessly behind the scenes to make Japan a reality, I think of them, the unsung heroes who work in the kitchens and in the crèches. Learning English gives them a chance to be free and to escape from the mundane routines of their everyday ordinary lives. For me, they are a part of the true beauty of Japan too. They are quintessentially the backbone of the nation, especially at a time when the young see no future here in their own country who lack talent and common sense, stupid and without a clue. It’s the Japanese mother who represents Japan for me, in the broader sense.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  





Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…