Tag: japan

Hotaru No Hikari – JDoroma Review

Hotaru No Hikari

Hotaru No Hikari

Hotaru No Hikari is a comedy drama.

There are two series and a movie made for this drama.

It is about a late 20 something woman who has quite contentedly given up on social life.  She is perfectly presentable during the day at work but she’d much rather be lazing at home in her sweat pants and t-shirt, drinking beers.

This Hotaru series account the romance of a Himono Onna (Dried fish woman, who has given up dating or looking for a life partner) with her boss who is recently divorced and much older.

The romance started as they ended up unexpectedly living together in the same house.

It is really hilarious in parts.  I love it.  I have to admit that I have not seen the movie yet.

The leads Ayase Haruka and Fujiki Naohito have a good chemistry.  


Rich Man, Poor Woman – Japanese Version

I watched this drama series and also the film of the same title and same characters, early last year.

I heard that South Korea is about to bring out their own version of this Japanese drama.  I have to say, it would be hard, if not impossible, to better the actors of this Japanese drama.

Shun Oguri as Toru Hyuga, the Rich Man made the role his.  He was so good as the young IT genius who built an empire.  He was arrogant and cocky and yet really vulnerable at the same time.  Whilst Satomi Ishihara, played Makoto Natsui, with so much effervescent, innocence and bravado.

They had such a good chemistry.

The story goes that Toru Hyuga is a high school dropout who started an IT company called Next Innovation, which made him a multi-millionaire and a president of his company.  The company became huge and was listed in Forbes; therefore everyone wants to join Next Innovation.

One of these was Makoto Natsui, who was on her last year of university.  She had been job-seeking for the last 8 months and had gone through more than 30 rigorous job interviews but no such luck.

By chance, she saw a notice that Next Innovation is doing a job fair.  She decided to attend,

During the job fair, the speaker was Toru Hyuga himself and made Makoto an object of his ridicule for the pathetic unemployable job-seekers.

Makoto did not take the insult lying down.  She showed him she has an exemplary memory by reciting verse and chapter of his company info.

Hyuga was not not excessively impressed but in desperation Makoto said her name is Chihiro Sawaki.  Hyuga was visibly intrigued. Nevertheless, Makoto was not considered for any position in the Next Innovation.

Hyuga has an affliction of prosopagnosia.   He has face blindness, he can’t remember faces of people.

Anyway, Chihiro Sawaki is Hyuga’s mother, who abandoned him when he was still a little boy.  He grew up in an orphanage before he was finally adopted.  Hyuga has always been curious where his mother was and has obsessively looked for her.  It was over 10 years ago that Hyuga and Makoto first met in her village.

Hyuga once came looking for his mother and asked the then young Makoto if she knew a woman called Chihiro Sawaki, who was supposed to be living in their village.  Makoto knew but Chihiro previously said that she would not want to meet her son if one day he does come looking for her.  It was a close chapter in her life.  Makoto therefore denied any knowledge of Chihiro to Hyuga.  She always carried this guilt.

Now in the present: Makoto suddenly got a call from Next Innovation, about a project that they would like her to be involved with initially.

Actually, I was so surprised with this part of the drama.  The project is very closed to my own heart 🙂

I remember a few years ago, when mobile phones were just introduced, Peter (my husband) and I were talking about the possibility of having your own mobile phone number for life.  Also why not have a system where you can see your medical records, savings, pensions and everything else.

And surprise surprise, this is actually the premise of the system being developed by the Next Innovation which is called Personal Files.  How uncanny is that?!!!

Anyway Makoto was a great help and support for the often temperamental Hyuga.  He became a victim of his own success.

When Hyuga lost his company completely leaving him without much money, Makoto was there to help and guide him to start over again.  He did, thanks to Makoto with her outstanding memory.

This drama is so good, quite fast paced.  Although I thought 10 episodes would have done it.  It drag a bit between 10 & 11.  Some scenes should have been cut as it did not really help or rather did slow down the tone of the story.

Anyway happy ending with Makoto going to Brazil for her new job with a pharmaceutical company but Hyuga said that he can make the other side of the world like nothing with his IT expertise.

Their romance did not end here as happily ever after.  There is a film of the same title but in New York.

This was set a year or so later and Makoto is now working in New York.  She occasionally meets up with Hyuga very fleetingly and it seems this is the way Hyuga wants it.

Makoto has to go to Japan for a few weeks and stayed with Hyuga’s apartment which is so minimalist to the extreme of minimalist.

He has a huge open plan apartment but with no bed/futon and not a proper working kitchen. He has an American style fridge full of bottled water and beer and a leather sofa.

Makoto changed this and unknowingly used his prized kitchenware to cook and a rice cooker was now proudly sitting in his kitchen and hang towels in the towel rail in the bathroom.  He was raging.  He told her he wanted it the way it was.

Makoto and her things were confined in a little out of sight cubicle.

But this was not enough, he also told her that he wanted them to be just like before, living away from each other, preferably thousands of miles away, and not seeing each other so much,   Makoto moved out.

During a wedding, where they both attended, Hyuga finally said that they should break up.

Makoto is back in the USA, Boston and slowly getting over Hyuga.

Hyuga finally felt that Makoto meant the world to him but he was too proud to do anything. He was really evil to Makoto.

Out of the blue Makoto was bombarded by texts that Hyuga was in Boston.

They meet up again.  Initially it looks like this meeting was more of a closure as they still said really nasty things to each other.

However in the end Hyuga confessed that he will change for her.  Awww.

And he did, slowly.  So cute ending.

I don’t think the Korean version will be able to better this Japanese version or the Korean actors will be as likeable as Shun and Satomi!




Persimmon (Sharon Fruit)

Persimmon, photo by PH Morton

Persimmon (Sharon Fruit)

Fruit Bowl, photo by PH Morton

Our fruit bowl is getting more adventures.  Early this new year, we have custard apple, passion fruit, mangoes, kiwi, several types of citrus fruits such as lemon, lime orange, grapefruit and nectarine.

We also have persimmon, which is apparently also called Sharon fruit.  Its scientific name is Diospyros Kaki.  This fruit is often seedless and sweet.  It can be eaten as a whole fruit; there is no need to peel it (but you can of course, if you wanted to.)

Sharon fruit can be eaten fresh, or cooked (in a pie) and even preserved.

Its orange colouring shouts richness in beta carotene and it is actually is a good source.

Must See Japanese Dramas (JDramas)

Yoko Shimada (Japan)

Must See Japanese Dramas (JDramas)

Japanese dramas have their own niche.  It is as popular as the Korean dramas internationally.  Some say that Japanese dramas are the best among the lot. 🙂

Well having watched various dramas from South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand and even the Philippines, Japanese dramas I think are the most cerebral and the most arty. They are shorter as well.

When you are watching a Japanese drama, you’ll find the ending as not as predictable as its counterparts from the above countries.

I say Japanese dramas are quirkier and often have original and unexpected take on life and love.

Perhaps this is the reason why many of Japanese dramas are remade by the other Southeast Asian countries.

Anyway, my list is not complete, a work in progress, and not in any order: –

Ramen Loving Girl

It is a simple story and comprising of 4 short episodes.  Koizumi is an attractive, quiet high schooler, who is an ace ramen eater.  She would travel for hours to find the best noodle shop.  Koizumi together with schoolmates Yu and Misa ate ramen from restaurant to restaurants.  They tried level 5 spicy ramen, pineapple ramen, creamy ramen, sweet ramen and more.  Along the way, they met the Jirokians, disciples of the Jiro Ramen Restaurant, which apparently was mentioned by a British newspaper, The Guardian, as 50 Restaurants to Eat at.



I love this medical drama.  It gives you a different perspective about hospital, doctors and the medical profession.

According to the lead character, it is not the doctor but the pathologist that diagnose illnesses.  It is the pathology department that go into what disease a patient is suffering from by looking into the blood and other samples.

Really worth a watch


Age of Harassment

This is a very enlightening, provocative and politically correct drama.

If you a gainfully employed, you must watch this drama.  It tackles typical instances that can usually happen in an office that are just sometimes taken for granted but shouldn’t be.

A lot of those “that is true’ moment in this drama.


My Boss My Hero

A really funny and engaging school drama.

It is about a 27 years old son of a Yakiza/Mafioso who is rather intellectually challenged.  The Don, father, forced him to return to finish high school at least if wanted to be the next mafia boss.

There are so many hilarious scenes and also there is a heart to this drama.


Seigi no Mikata

This is a real gem.  It is a story of a 15 year old girl and her ‘trials and tribulations’ suffered from the hand of her older sister.

Her sister is rather cruel to her and yet despite this the older sister’s actions always end up with a positive effect, which made her more vain and yet popular.



Spatial Cherry Blossoms from Japan

Apparently Japanese scientists are flummoxed by the flowering of a cherry blossom, which was grown from seed, few years before it was expected to bloom.

This very special cherry tree is truly spatial. The seed from which it has grown from had been to space and back.

This is big news  to the Japanese people because cherry blossom has a notable place in their hearts.  Afterall Japan is known as the land of the cherry blossoms; the blooming of cherry blossoms are agogly  awaited, watched and celebrated as a festival all over Japan.

The festival is called Hanami, which literally means viewing flowers, but it is not just for any flower. It is predominantly meant for the cherry blossoms.

The traditions started fairly early in the Japanese history. Upper classes and the aristocrats used to picnic under the cherry blossoms which might had been such a wonderful experience as it inspired them to write fulsome poems.

The tradition caught on and everyone started participating and having fun. People would bring food and drinks and eat under these majestic trees. The very intricate tea ceremony is also performed under the trees.

The Hanami festival is not a set date in Japan as a whole. The celebration is determined by location, location, location! The blooming is usually forecasted and may vary from year to year.

Some regions have the flower watching as early as January and some as late as May. The blooming of the cherry blossoms is determined by areas and weather/temperature, of course! 😉

The Hanami festival, although predominantly about the gorgeous cherry blossoms have encompassed and celebrated more of the modern Japanese life.

JPJhermes, on patrol


Cherry b


‘Cherry tree from space’ mystery baffles Japan

AFPBy Shigemi Sato | AFP – Fri, Apr 11, 2014

A cosmic mystery is uniting monks and scientists in Japan after a cherry tree grown from a seed that orbited the Earth for eight months bloomed years earlier than expected — and with very surprising flowers.

The four-year-old sapling — grown from a cherry stone that spent time aboard the International Space Station (ISS) — burst into blossom on April 1, possibly a full six years ahead of Mother Nature’s normal schedule.

Its early blooming baffled Buddhist brothers at the ancient temple in central Japan where the tree is growing.

“We are amazed to see how fast it has grown,” Masahiro Kajita, chief priest at the Ganjoji temple in Gifu, told AFP by telephone.

“A stone from the original tree had never sprouted before. We are very happy because it will succeed the old tree, which is said to be 1,250 years old.”

The wonder pip was among 265 harvested from the celebrated “Chujo-hime-seigan-zakura” tree, selected as part of a project to gather seeds from different kinds of cherry trees at 14 locations across Japan.

The stones were sent to the ISS in November 2008 and came back to Earth in July the following year with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, after circling the globe 4,100 times.

Some were sent for laboratory tests, but most were ferried back to their places of origin, and a selection were planted at nurseries near the Ganjoji temple.

By April this year, the “space cherry tree” had grown to around four metres (13 feet) tall, and suddenly produced nine flowers — each with just five petals, compared with about 30 on flowers of the parent tree.

It normally takes about 10 years for a cherry tree of the similar variety to bear its first buds.

The Ganjoji temple sapling is not the only early-flowering space cherry tree.

Of the 14 locations in which the pits were replanted, blossoms have been spotted at four places.

Two years ago, a young tree bore 11 flowers in Hokuto, a mountain region 115 kilometres (70 miles) west of Tokyo, around two years after it was planted.

It was of a variety that normally only comes into flower at the age of eight.

Cosmic rays

The seeds were sent to the ISS as part of “an educational and cultural project to let children gather the stones and learn how they grow into trees and live on after returning from space,” said Miho Tomioka, a spokeswoman for the project’s organiser, Japan Manned Space Systems (JAMSS).

“We had expected the (Ganjoji) tree to blossom about 10 years after planting, when the children come of age,” she added.Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba who took part in the project, told AFP she was stumped by the extra-terrestrial mystery.

“We still cannot rule out the possibility that it has been somewhat influenced by its exposure to the space environment,” she said.

Tomita-Yokotani, a plant physiologist, said it was difficult to explain why the temple tree has grown so fast because there was no control group to compare its growth with that of other trees.

She said cross-pollination with another species could not be ruled out, but a lack of data was hampering an explanation.

“Of course, there is the possibility that exposure to stronger cosmic rays accelerated the process of sprouting and overall growth,” she said.

“From a scientific point of view, we can only say we don’t know why.”

Wakata is back aboard the ISS, where he is in command of the station.

The astronaut took part in a video link-up on Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, chatting about his daily life hundreds of kilometres above the Earth.

Bea Rose Santiago – Philippines’ Miss International Candidate

GlobalGranary.org sends its best wishes to Bea Alonso Santiago, Philippines’ candidate  to the forthcoming Miss International Beauty Pageant to be held at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel Hall in Japan on December 17.

She is a beautiful, willowy young lady and we predict that she will be bringing back the crown to the Philippines.

Good luck Bea!

Bea Santiango


Bea Rose Santiago – Philippines’ Miss International Candidate

Update:   Bea Rose Santiago of the Philippines was declared the winner of the 2013 Miss International Beauty Pageant. The contest was held in Shinagawa Prince Hotel Hall in Tokyo, Japan today, 17 December 2013.

Yolanda Disaster Fund (International)

  • AUSTRALIA – US$9.3 million package, including Medical personnel
  • Asian Development Bank: $500m emergency loans and $23m in grants
  • BELGIUM – medical and search and rescue personnel
  • CANADA – C$5 million
  • CHINA – $1.6m + $100K thru Chinese Red Cross
  • DENMARK – KR 10 million
  • GERMANY – 23 tons of relief goods
  • HUNGARY – search and rescue personnel and rapid response team
  • INDONESIA – in-kind donations:Aircraft, personnel, drinking water, food, generators, medicine
  • ISRAEL- team of medical, trauma and relief professionals
  • JAPAN – $10M  including emergency relief of 25 medical team
  • MALAYSIA – medical and search and rescue teams
  • THE NETHERLANDS – undisclosed financial aid
  • NEW ZEALAND – NZ $2.15 million
  • NORWAY – KR 20 million (142,024,080.00 Philippine Peso)
  • RUSSIA – rapid response team
  • SAUDI ARABIA through Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – US$100,000
  • SINGAPORE – $50,000
  • SPAIN – in-kind donations
  • South Korea: $5m plus a 40-strong medical team
  • SWEDEN- emergency communications equipment
  • TAIWAN – $200,000
  • TURKEY – medics, rapid response team, search and rescue personnel
  • UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – $10Million in aid
  • UNITED KINGDOM – £6 million inclusive of emergency support package – Now increased to £10M and also sending HMS Daring, a Type 45 Destroyer at full speed from Singapore as well as RAF C-17 Transporter.  Increase to £15M, again increased to £30M, Again increase to £50,000,000 plus HMS Illustrious is also being sent to the Philippines for extra support.
  • UNITED NATIONS Children’s Fund – $1.3 million worth of supplies
  • UNITED NATIONS World Food Programme – Initial of $2M
  • UNITED NATIONS Humanitarian Wing- released $25,000,000
  • UNITED STATES – $20M; initial $100,000 for water and sanitation; Troops, emergency respondents, transportation and equipment
  • The Vatican – $150,000 (Please Holy Father if you have to give the monies through the Church, please give strict instruction that the monies are meant for the victims of Typhoon YOLANDA!)
  • Vietnam – $100,000

Plus +++++


  • Korean Giant Electronic firm, Samsung – $1M
  • Swedish IKEA – $2.7m
  • Coca Cola – $2.5M
  • Toyota $500,000
  • Eton Corporation – $140,000

Non-government organizations are also helping out:

  • Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said it was sending 200 tons of aid including medicine, tents and hygiene kits to arrive mid-week, with the first cargo plane leaving from Dubai on Monday and another from Belgium on Tuesday.
  • Oxfam, the British-based relief organization, said it has sent an assessment team ahead of aid operations.
  • German nongovernment organizations such as World Vision and the International Search and Rescue Team (ISAR) sent emergency response teams and “23 tons of humanitarian aid” consisting of water, food, hygiene and medical kits. Rescue teams of German relief organizations CARE, Malteser International and HelpAge, which are all part of the umbrella organization for German humanitarian aid (Buendnis Aktion Deutschland Hilfe) “are already working on the ground in Samar and Leyte.” German aid organization ADRA and Johanniter Unfallhilfe“will be deploying more rescue and relief teams” to the Visayas region.ISAR Germany is also sending a medical team composed of 24 doctors and nurses to the hardest-hit regions of the Visayas. The team arrived in the Philippines on Sunday and will bring with them two tons of medical supplies provided by Action Medeor, a German relief organization.They will also be setting up tents, which can accommodate up to 1,000 persons a day.
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have joined together to make a $250,000 contribution to World Vision to support relief efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.




2020 Olympics Winners and Losers

Tokyo Resident Loses Second Home To Olympics

Kohei Jinno was forced to move after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games – and now the 2020 Summer Olympics are threatening his home.

5:44am UK, Thursday 19 September 2013
Kohei Jinno shows an old photo of himself, inside Kasumigaoka apartment complex which is located near the National stadium in Tokyo
“Kohei Jinno shows an old photo of himself, inside Kasumigaoka apartment complex which is located near the National stadium in Tokyo”

Thousands of Tokyo residents celebrated their city’s winning bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games – but for Kohei Jinno, the win means losing his home for a second time.

Mr Jinno and his family were forced to move after Tokyo first won the Olympic Games in 1964, to make room for a new stadium.

Fifty years later, it has happened again.

“Fate has not been kind to me. It may be great fortune for the nation, but having to leave this place fills me with sadness,” he said.

An elderly woman climbs up the stairs at Kasumigaoka apartment complex, which is located near the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo
The Kasumigaoka apartment complex is earmarked for demolition

The public housing complex where Mr Jinno lives with his wife is earmarked for demolition in preparation for the Games as the National Olympic Stadium is redeveloped.

The futuristic stadium designed by Zaha Hadid will seat 80,000 people and will replace the stadium used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1964 Games.

Mr Jinno, a tobacconist, ran a shop attached to his house before he was evicted ahead of the 1964 Games.

He lost his business and was forced to wash cars for a living to support his wife and two children.

Aerial view of the Tokyo National Olympic Stadium which will host the Opening and closing ceremony
The National Stadium will be redeveloped for 2020

In 1965 he moved into the municipal housing complex where he lives today and was able to reopen his shop.

But another Olympics means another move.

“It’s like they’re taking away the most precious thing I have after my family,” he said. “Because of the Olympics I’m going to lose the community I love so much, the friends that have kept me going so long.

“In their place I’m getting uncertainty, loneliness and pain.”

Resident Kohei Jinno looks for his family photos inside his shop at Kasumigaoka apartment complex, which is located near the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo
Kohei Jinno inside his tobacco shop

Mr Jinno, who turns 80 next month, said there are around 200 other families in the same position.

“I wish they wouldn’t have the Olympics in Tokyo again,” he said. “I can bear getting evicted if it’s just the once in a lifetime. But twice? It’s ridiculous.”

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