Category: Japan

A Tale of Samurai Cooking A True Love Story 2013 (Review & Recap)

A Samurai Wedding

A Tale of Samurai Cooking A True Love Story 2013 (Review & Recap)

I have just watched this 2 hours Japanese film this cold Sunday afternoon/early evening here in London.  I must admit it is a perfect movie for a lazy end of the week.

There are lots of food, some samurai fighting, intrigues in the Edo period and of course a BIT of romance.  I have to point out that it was really tiny, small, minute romance.  Even the ending when they had sorted out their misunderstanding the hug was so sedate.  It was not even a full hug.  It was just a one shoulder hug between Haru and Yasonobu.

The story is that Haru ended up reluctantly marrying Yasonobu who is 4 years younger that her on the behest (pleading of Yasonabu’s father, the master cook from the Funaki Family who serves in the Kaga Domain)

Haru, played by Aya Ueto, is an excellent cook, who was orphaned  at a very early age of 12.  She was then taken in to cook for the concubine of the House of Signoria (whatever?) 🙂  She became a great favourite of the concubine and treated her more like a daughter.

During a gastronomy festival, Funaki Sensei presented the upper class with a mystery dish.  He then asked each of the diners to guess what the dish was,  Only the concubine was able to guess it correctly and she then confessed that Haru told her.

Funaki Sensei was impressed that he beg Haru to marry his son.  Haru said that she was already married though in a process of divorce.  Her husband’s family had to send her back because she was noisy and too assertive.

Funaki Sensei beg and beg and assured Haru that he will sort out the divorce. She had to marry Yasonobu to save the Funaki family.

Yasonobu, played by Kengo Kora, is a second son.  Being not the heir initially, he was more or less free to do what he wanted and he wanted to become a samurai warrior and marry the only daughter, Sayo, of the dojo.

He fell in love at first sight with Saya and hoped of marrying her and be the master of the Samurai dojo.

Unfortunately his elder brother, the heir to the Funaki culinary dynasty died in the plague.  He, therefore, had to forget Saya and continue his father’s legacy.

Saya ended up marrying Yasonobu’s best friend.

Though Yasonobu is now the heir, he was a terrible cook and rather a spoiled brat.

He was also cold to Haru.

Haru was patient and was caring and supportive to her husband.  She taught him the basics of cooking and for all it’s worth Yasonobu was quite an able apprentice.  So much so that he got promoted from the samurai school of cookery, eh???? 🙂

It was quite fraught during that time, uprisings were everywhere.

Yosonobu would have died if Haru did not take it upon herself to sabotage his mission to join a small band of men intent on assassinating the Lord of Kaga.

Yosonobu was so frustrated when he found that his bestfriend died during the failed assassination.  He blamed Haru for preventing him from joining the dead.  He was on the act of beheading Haru when his mother came up and slapped him; telling him that he was a thoughtless idiot.  He was self-centred not thinking that he was her only remaining child.

When everything has quietened a little bit, Haru packed her clothes and went. She left a letter saying that she is releasing Yosonobu from their marriage and now free to marry the woman, who he truly loves.

Haru has opened a little beach cafe (without the coffee – being the Edo period hahaha) and was contented until her next customer happened to be Yosonobu, who said that he had been looking for her and that his father advised him not to come back without her and that his mother wanted a grand-child but only if Haru was the mother.  And that he had no feelings whatsoever for Saya and likes being married to Haru.  Ahhhhhh

Haru run to his right shoulder for half a body hug.  Ahhhhh

And they happily trod on together back to the family house.

It was a cute drama.  The costumes are so lovely.  Aya Ueto was stunning with her geisha like make-up.  Kengo would have been drop-dead gorgeous if did not have that Samurai part shaved head. 🙂

Ogon no Buta – Japanese Drama

The Golden Piggy poster, NTV Japan : L2R: Kenta Kiritani, Masaki Okada, Ryoko Shinohara, Yu Oisumi & Katsuhisa Namase

Ogon no Buta – Japanese Drama

I watched the 10-episode series last night!

It was most interesting.  In fact I would go as far as recommend this to every tax-paying person to watch.

The story has something to do with how taxes are paid and how it should be used but sometimes is mis-used.

How it is being mis-used by various government agencies is what this drama is all about.

Several departments were look at and it would make you think how your own government is really spending your hard earned money you pay in taxes.

In the hospital for instance, why is an administrator is higher than the medical doctor?  It made me recall a rather scandalous instance in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK where there are more administrators than doctors and nurses.

Sengyou Shufu Tantei ( Japanese Drama Review)

Sengyou Shufu Tantei

This drama is also called My Shadow and Detective Housewife.

This drama actually is very memorable not only because the lead woman Fukada Kyoko is so pretty and the two male leads are gorgeous.

No, the drama actually tackles corporate espionage, marriage, love, trust, infidelity and forgiveness, amongst other things.

Serina is married to Fumi, who works in a large corporation.  Serina is a stay at home wife who is utterly devoted to her husband, that often she would confess that she is her husband’s shadow and proud of it.

Fumi’s work is competitive and stressful and often involved weekend  away from home and pretty late nights meetings.  His chief, a woman, started seducing him.  Before too long he was attracted to her and succumbed to lust. 🙁

Serina on the otherhand, purely on misconception and accident, secretly started working for a detective agency as an assistant to Jinnai, who developed feelings for her because of her innocence and purity.  Jinnai gave Serina self-worth and confidence.

Despite of  all the care and compassion from Jinnai, who confessed his feelings for her, Serina remained steadfast with her fidelity to Fumi.

Serina loved Fumi with all her heart and forgave him.

It is an enjoyable series.  Well recommended.

My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!)

My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!)

This is a Japanese film.  It is some sort of ‘beauty and the beast’ love story.

Cast:

  • Ryohei Suzuki as Takeo Gōda
  • Mei Nagano as Rinko Yamato
  • Kentarō Sakaguchi as Makoto Sunakawa
  • Yasufumi Terawaki as Yutaka Gōda
  • Sawa Suzuki as Yuriko Gōda

It is just the cutest, sweetest and unexpected story.  A kawaii girl fell in love with a boy who could double for Shrek.  Actually he is much handsomer than Shrek. 🙂

He is Takeo, he has thick eyebrows, massive physique and the kindest of heart.

He has a best-friend, Suna, who is a storybook gorgeous and popular with girls.

During their middle school graduation, Takeo resolved to confess his love to a girl but found her confessing to Suna.

Takeo was heartbroken but reasoned that Suna is very handsome and a good guy.

When Takeo and Suna were in college, they saw a girl being harassed by a boy.  Takeo intervened. The girl was Rinko, a cute girl.

Rinko instantly fell in love with him and he with her.  But there was a misunderstanding.  Because all the girls were always going for Suna, he assumed that  Rinko liked Suna rather than him as well.  And Rinko got upset because Takeo pushes her towards Suna all the time.

It took Suna to finally get the two together.  It is such a lovely, kilig, cute story

Naka Riisa – Japanese Actress

Riisa Naka

Riisa Naka

Profile:

  • DOB: 18 October 1989 (28)
  • Height: 166 cm (5’5″)
  • Ethnicity: Japanese with a Swedish grandfather.
  • Riisa was named after Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
  • Marital Satus:  Married to Akiyoshi Nakao.
  • Children:  a son

 

Naka Riisa – Japanese Actress

I love this actress especially after watching Yankee-kun to Megane-chan.  She is such a good versatile actress.  She has that stillness that is so dramatic, which she showed in another drama series called, I Love You Just a Little Bit as a betrayed wife.  With just her facial expression, you can feel how much she was hurting and yet she looked strong and will be able to cope.  You admire her character rather pity her.

Raiisa has made a lot of films and dramas where she played a kick-ass girl.  (I like)

Dramas & Films:

Yankee-kun to Megane-chan is the first drama, where I saw Riisa.

Anata no Koto Wa Sorehodo (I Love You Just a Little Bit) Japanese Drama Review

Poster fromTBS / Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc.

Anata no Koto Wa Sorehodo (I Love You Just a Little Bit) Japanese Drama Review

I have just binge-watched this Japanese drama.

I have to say I have enjoyed it very much.

This drama was not just about infidelity and redemption after the affair.  It is much more.

Why do men have affairs?  What is love?  What is first love?

These questions are given a different treatment.

As in many Japanese films and dramas, the viewers and audience are tasked to cultivate a wider and definitely a wilder imagination.  🙂  Admittedly the Japanese do provide original take on things which make their dramas fresh and thought provoking.

Cast:

  • Haru as Mitsu Watanabe
  • Masahiro Higashide as Ryota Watanabe
  • Riisa Naka as Reika Arishima
  • Nobuyuki Suzuki as Koki Arishima
  • Aya Omasa as Kyoko Iida
  • Ikusaburo Yamazaki as Shingo Odawara

Anata no Koto wa Sorehodo or I love you just a little bit is about a woman who pined for her first love despite being happily married.

Mitsu was a daughter of a woman, who was longing to find the ‘one’.  In her search for the ‘one’, she would often bring home men, married or otherwise to their home.  The young impressionable Mitsu did not know who her father was because her mother did not deem him the ‘one’ so not worth marrying him but she was curious enough to know how it would feel to have a child, so she kept Mitsu.

When Mitsu was in high school, she met Arishima, a popular boy, who is extremely good looking (the actor, Nobuyuki Suzuki was a good choice) and athletic. He was her first love.  They did not really have a real romance because when Arishima tried it on with her one night, she pushed him away rather strongly, which embarrassed Arishima.  The next day, Arishima snubbed her and then he transferred out to another school.  Mitsu never forgotten him though.

Years later, working in an eye clinic, Mitsu met Ryota Watanabe.  Ryota was a quiet man but very dependable and attentive.  Before long they got engaged and got married living in a lovely decent apartment. He works in interior design company, in the management side.  He was a caring husband, who loves and dotes on her.   He cooks and provides her with gourmet food.  He was tall and handsome but somehow Mitsu can’t help thinking of Arishima.

Until one day on a chance encounter Mitsu saw Arishima once again.  All the lovely time , all the caring and love from her husband have completely evaporated as soon as she was faced with Koki Arishima.  She was absolutely mesmerised by Arishima and wanted to sleep with him.

And they did, though Arishima is already happily married to Reika, who was pregnant at that time.

For a while Koki and Mitsu continued to meet and sleep together.

Finally their respective spouses found out about the affair.  Ryota, who is obsessed with MItsu chose to condone the affair but on condition to keep it secret and outside the house.

Reika, Arishisma’s wife, who had the baby by this time, was dignified and chose to withdraw back into her parent’s house.  Arishima finally realised how deeply he loves his wife and his new baby and told Mitsu that they can’t see or text each other anymore.  Mitsu did graciously agreed.

Naka Riisa who played Reika Arishima made the role her own.  Every scene that she was on, she was shining.  The whole drama series was hers.  I think this led her to get the role of Azu in the forthcoming Japanese manga live action drama, Holiday Love, which is about infidelity as well but much more heartrending based from what I read on the manga.

I digress.  I have rewatch I Love You Just A Little Bit several times now, fast-forwarding on Reika and Koki Arishima’s scenes.  Their chemistry is fantastic.  I love the scene, when she repeatedly slapped him when he told her he loved her deeply.  Their spontaneous kiss the next day was so cute.  You are somehow made aware that they do have a healthy sex-life.  It was that late stage of pregnancy and having a new baby that can affect the libido of a woman, thus sending the young attractive husband to seek comfort somewhere else, especially when it is offered on a plate.  That is no excuse though! Tsk Tsk Tsk 🙁

As to Mitsu, she ended up being divorced.

One day she saw her ex-husband with a woman while she was looking for a venue for her friends wedding.  She wrongly thought that her ex-husband was also about to plunge into another marriage and she was quite wistful.

Her ex smiled secretly and they might end up together again but then it might also be another circle of infidelity on Mitus’s part as she met a handsome man with a dog. 🙂

One of my favourite dramas to date.

Kanna-San! (Ms. Kanna!) – Japanese Drama Review


Kanna-San! (Ms. Kanna!) – Japanese Drama Review

I spent the afternoon and evening binge-watching this drama yesterday.  It is a 2017 Japanese drama starring Jun Kaname, who is the reason why I watched this fairly unknown dorama, and Naomi Watanabe, who has been dubbed as Japan’s Beyonce.  With Naomi’s fairly large frame, it was hard to imagine her being a Beyonce but as soon as she moves and do her thing, you can see her aura and personality more than makes up for her being fat. (I know that is far from being politically correct but I have to call and say it for what it is – sorry).

Anyway, Naomi Watanebe played Kanna Suzuki who was married to Jun’s character, Rei Suzuki.  They have a really adorable son, Reon,  played by a very able child actor, Eito Kawahara.

They lived a happy, fun life until Reon’s 4th birthday,

Rei failed to celebrate the party because he came home late and without the promised Mr Penguin slushy machine present.

Rei did not seem that bothered having missed the birthday and went immediately into his mancave to do more work.  Kanna understood as she is used to her workaholic husband.  She ended up having a solo karaoke in the living room.  With all the racket she was making, her husband put on his headphones.

As he checked his text messages, he did not notice that his wife was behind him and can read all the exchanged text with his mistress.  Kanna found out that the husband was not late for the party because of work but he was with his mistress.  She was infuriated to know that he kissed her after he had been kissing his mistress.

Rei said that he is lovesick.  He can’t control it.  She kicked her husband out of the bedroom and told him to be gone before she wakes up.  And he was.

After a a few days, the husband came to visit with his mother.  The mother-in-law, though not the typical Oriental monstrous one in dramas, was still annoying.  Anyway, Kanna was ready to forgive her husband but he said he was actually serious about his mistress.  He wanted to be with her.

Kanna took it all in.  She is not one to be depressed for long. She gave her husband a divorce.

Restarted her life as a single parent.  She has a vivacity that is contagious.

I know this kind of vivacity.  Because when I was in college, I had a schoolmate called Gemma.  She was tall for a Filipina 🙂 and had a sexy body.  But her face is not so good and bordering on the hideous.  She had inflamed pimples all the time and acne scars which turned really dark, her nose is flat and wide.  But she had a piercing and bright eyes which mirrored her personality.  She was always laughing, that kind that is contagious, and she was a good raconteur.  She tells the best and funny jokes and stories.  We used to congregate around her.  She was the queen bee.  Her popularity reached mega-stratosphere in our school when her boyfriend, who was so gorgeous came to pick her up in his car.  At that time we had never seen  a young person owning his own car.  🙂 🙂 🙂

I digress, anyway over time Kanna made a life of her own with her son, she was circumspect with her husband and his girlfriend, so much so that her husband felt a glimmer of something for her again and the girlfriend noticed this too.   They ended up breaking up.  Rei decided to go back to Kanna but at this point, she had started a relationship with a world-renown fashion designer, Nick Namba.

It would have been happily ever after for Kanna with Nick; he was perfect, he has sown all his wild oats, so to speak, and really ready and aching to settle down and be a family but little Reon won’t take to him.  Kanna and Nick separated.

Kanna then went to  Rei, who bought her a mansion as an atonement for his abandonment.  She said she would be with him again in their new mansion (apartment) but Rei just met up with a fashion model childhood friend.  He said to Kanna that he was not ready yet.  So they are both back to square one.

To buy the mansion, Rei barrowed money from his company, he had to really work hard to finish a website that would clear his debts.  He was so happy at last and went to Kanna and asked her to marry again.  She said No.  She doesn’t want marriage.  They could live together.

Unfortunately, the company, the website he was working on, went bankrupt.  Rei was in debt for 50M yen,  He lost his company and can’t pay the 10M Y loan.

At this point Kanna is at her lowest ebb too having just lost  her job.  But Kanna is optimistic and resourceful.  She work as a construction worker, hefting materials in the site.

Kanna found out Rei’s predicament.  She said that they had to sell the mansion to clear more of the debts.

And they remarried and downsized into a little apartment, both working and seemed happy to be together.

It is a very engaging story but there is not much chemistry really between the actors, probably that is why it was easy to overlook that emotive subject of infidelity!  Kanna and Nick have more chemistry.  That back hug was sexy.

Good Morning Call Season 2 Review

A Netflix Original poster

Drama

  • Genre:  Romance, School, Youth, Comedy, Drama
  • Live-Action Television series – Manga Shojo
  • Date Released: Season 1 – 2016, Season 2 – 2017
  • OST: End of the World by Caspa

Good Morning Call Season 2 Review

New Cast (Season 2):

    • Shiraishi Shunya as Uehara Hisashi.
    • Fukuhara Haruka as Yoshikawa Nao.
    • Sakurada Dori as Shinozaki Daichi.
    • Sugino Yosuke as Natsume Shu.
    • Sagara Itsuki as Nanase Rin.
    • Takahashi Maryjun as Kumanomido Saeko.
    • Arai Moe as Konno Marina
    • Nagashima Shugo – Micchan
    • Nagasawa Koya – Abe Jun

 

Yes, finally Good Morning Call Season 2 (Our Campus Days),  is being shown by Netflix.

It has 10 episodes altogether with some new characters.  This series two continues on from their middle school/high school days to university life; campus days.

The new series is a Netflix original and they had only started showing Season 2 yesterday.

So whilst agogly waiting for this Japanese drama’s second series, I rewatched the original one a couple of days ago and enjoyed it once again.  Lots of giggles!

Then yesterday, within minutes of release in Netflix, I was there in front of my huge telly, goggle eyed.  What a sad, happy life I lead!!!  🙂

And I binge-watched all 10 episodes in one day. 🙂

(I think Netflix have said that their customers are binge-watching their ‘box-set’ series!  – Guilty!!!)

Good Morning Call – Series two is still as kawaii but more mature.  I had a few tears a few times.  Poor Nao!

Good Morning call, Our Campus Days follows on from when Uehara and Nao were forced to share an apartment and live together.

They were victims of a scammer, who rented the same 2-bedroom apartment to each of them. For months they lived together secretly.

Before long Uehara and Nao developed feelings for each other but the school found out about their housing situation.

It was a school taboo for two unrelated kids to live together by themselves even it was platonic.

In the last episode of the first series, Uehara and Nao promised to be still together even if  they have to live separately.

On moving day, they found that their estate agent/landlord put them into two flats, which were next to each other.

Series two continues on from this.

Uehara is a popular boy with his stunning good looks,  200 IQ and being athletic to boot. He is one of the top three most gorgeous (popular) boys in the university.

Girls were swooning everytime he walks by. But he is beyond cool. He was cold. He does not like all the fuss.   This made him even more desirable. He is stalked by girls  and it has become a bit of a problem for him.

Nao on the otherhand is ordinary (the actress is actually very pretty) and rather clumsy but has got a pure heart and perseverance.  Her innocence made her a boy magnet.  Gorgeous guys were falling for her big time.  Daichi (one of the three popular boys) loved and pined for her for eight long years.

Uehara’s predicament with boisterous girls following him everywhere continued on until he met Natsume, who he really gets on with.  Natsume showed him a secret room, where he can relax  and have a moment of peace 🙂  He was so grateful to Natsume, who is very gregarious and very popular with everyone, especially with the girls.

Uehara admired Natsume’s openness and helpfulness.  He perceived Natsume as a male equivalent of Nao.  Natsume, like Nao, Uehara thinks, would go a long mile to help others, even if it means inconveniencing himself.  He was rather envious of Natsume’s friendliness, so much so that he developed a bit of inferiority complex when comparing himself to Natsume.

Natsume is flirty and in touch with his feminine side. He loves handicrafts and embroidery. No Uehara and Natsume do not have a gay thing. LOL 🙂

In fact Natsume kissed Nao, which Uehara witnessed. Nao was so distressed that she was spinning like a top, but Uehara forgave Natsume almost in a heartbeat. What kind of a boyfriend is he?

In the end Natsume truly fell for Nao.  Told you, she is a boy magnet 🙂

Nao and Uehara’s relationship was undergoing a very uncertain phase.  To comfort the aggrieved Nao, Natusume kissed her which Uehara found out. Uehara was waiting for Nao to confess about the kiss but Nao was too embarrassed to say anything at first until the moment for confession has passed its time limit.

But before judging Nao, Uehara was not a hard done by boyfriend.  He went on a date with his boss, called Saeko, who is aptly named as she was slightly psychotic.  LOL.  Uehara and Saeko even shared a kiss which Nao witnessed.  Saeko also confessed to Uehara.  Though Uehara did tell her that he doesn’t return her feelings, he continued to be closed to her, much to the discomfiture of Nao.

There are plenty of things that are going wrong as well as misunderstanding between Nao and Uehara so their relationship became rather awkward.

Uehara said that he wanted space and asked Nao not to go into his flat or contact him for now.

Nao understood and did what Uehara wanted. She is not confident about the relationship anyway. She was thinking that her relationship with Uehara was purely accidental, that if they were not ‘forced’ to live together Uehara would not have given her even a second look. Thinking this she finally accepted that they were not really right together and told Uehara that they should break up.

Though they had broken up, Nao said that she would only ever love Uehara and she put Natsume properly in his place.  She cannot have a deeper relationship with Natsume.  She was very upset too because Natsume had been a crutch to her in facing all her troubles.

You might get the impression that this drama series is full of angsts and heartbreaks but actually there are plenty of cute and heart warming moments; you can’t help but fall in love with Nao and Uehara all over again (if you had seen the first series).  You would also like Natsume for being a good friend and a ready shoulder to cry on for Nao.

Spoiler Do not Read (But I know you want to 🙂 lol)

Uehara was also missing Nao but he kept thinking that Natsume was better suited to be with Nao.

Natsume is a good guy and really cares for Nao and her happiness. So he misled Uehara with misinformation that Nao was going on a little vacation with him.  He let Uehara know where Nao would be at.

Saeko also came to the rescue by telling Uehara to stop running away.  But run away was what Uehara did.  Running to Nao.  I have to admit he never look more gorgeous than when he was running in his denim jeans and white t-shirt and open polo shirt.  There is something so attractive about a fit young man running.  (Ooops, I digress) 🙂

Uehara confessed his feelings to Nao that even if she loves someone else, he would still love her.  Awww.

The end was that they are finally together with a more mature relationship.  They spend nights together in each other’s flats.   Ahhhh Uehara has turned lovely dovey 🙂 🙂 🙂  Welll lovey dovey the Uehara way.


I rewatched this whole series a second time and hated Uehara even more.  He was a clueless lump.

How can a guy who was supposed to be stalked by girls in his every ‘walking  moment’ 🙂 lose confidence in himself.  Even Saeko, his lab boss has fallen for him.  I don’t get his character motivation.

I think he has a boy crush with Natsume.  He treated him better than he dealt with Nao.

During Uehara’s birthday, which he knew Nao really worked her guts out to make it as happy and festive for him as possible; decorating every nook and cranny of his apartment, cooking all the foods he likes and more (he saw her itinerary for his birthday) and yet he did not give any second thought for working late and coming to Natsume’s rescue and bringing him to the apartment.   At least Natsume has the grace to leave and yet Uehara was easily persuaded to run after him.  He found it so easy to disappoint the poor girl.

After knowing that Nao is not happy of his closeness with Saeko (they are on a first name basis, which is apparently not the Japanese way between people who are not related), Uehara did not take Nao’s concerns into consideration; he even went on a date with Saeko.  He lamely said that it was not a date but like going for a meal with Natsume (a friend).

Ha!  He pined for Yuri for years, how can he not know about feelings?!!!

He also knew that Saeko has the hots for him and he did not really tell her to stop her flirting, in fact in a way he encouraged it.  He even allowed her to kiss him and protected her when she needed it.

I am so annoyed I think I shall rewatch it again in a couple of days!  LOL

 

Salmon Sashimi

Salmon sashimi, photo by Arnold Gamboa

Salmon Sashimi

With sashimi, there are at least three things to consider:  The freshness of the fish, a good sharp chef’s knife or a miyabi and a solid chopping board.

Ingredients

  • 200 g fresh salmon fillet
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp wasabi sauce

Method of Preparation:

Clean the salmon first and then pat dry with paper towel.

Put the fillet on the chopping board.

Proceed to slice the salmon as thinly, about 1 cm in thickness maximum and as cleanly as possible.  A really sharp knife is a must.

Arrange the strips on a dainty serving plate with a little ceramic bowls of the soy sauce and wasabi sauce.

Enjoy!

 

 

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