Perfume Story: 2. Culture of Glass: November 2010 Archives

2. Culture of Glass: November 2010 Archives

Sushi and wasabi :Vol.3

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Sushi and wasabi

Shizuoka Prefecture - largest producer of wasabi in Japan

Those living outside Japan are unlikely to know about the kind of region this wasabi is produced. The perfect environment for wasabi is a cool climate with extremely clean water, and the Izu region in Shizuoka Prefecture, which fulfills these requirements, is the largest producer of wasabi in Japan. I will now introduce wasabi-related photographs and effect-efficacy data obtained from Shizuoka Prefecture.

image101118_01.jpg image101118_02.jpg image101118_03.jpg
(Photos: Provided by farm producer in Izu, Shizuoka prefecture)

Wasabi effect-efficacy

Wasabi is a plant of the brassicaceae family originating from Japan. Its scientific name is "Wasabia japonica Matsum" and the Chinese characters used for its name are: "山葵" (trans: 山 - mountain; 葵- hollyhock).
Wasabi cultivation methods are divided between "water-grown" and "soil-grown". The water-grown variety is used for raw consumption, while soil-grown wasabi is mainly used for processing such as wasabi pickles.
When wasabi is grated, it has a nasally-stimulating, pungent aroma. Its pungent ingredient is the volatile mustard oil type - "isothiocyanate (ITC)" - and when the mustard oil glycoside contained within wasabi's cells is physically broken-down during the grating process, hydrolysis of the mustard oil glycoside occurs due to the activity of the oxygen present in wasabi, and mustard oil is produced, thus explaining the aroma.
Within the mustard oil of wasabi, the most abundant ingredient is "allyl mustard oil", which makes up approximately 90%. Approximately 0.3g of this oil is contained per 100g of raw wasabi.
Besides allyl mustard oil, there are also a large number of other mustard oils. For example,
The "sawa (mountain stream) aroma", which is the unique taste of "sawa-wasabi", is caused by ω-Methylthioalkyl mustard oil.

Since the bactericidal property of pungent ingredients such as allyl mustard oil was reported by Koch et al in 1882, it has been discovered that wasabi has many activities including vitamin B1 synthetic enhancement capability, vitamin C stabilization capability, orexigenic effect, antiparasitic effect, and a digestion absorption effect.
Former University of Shizuoka Professor, Morita, discovered that wasabi had antibacterial activity against the widely feared O-157 strain of the E.coli bacteria. Additionally, it was found that it has extremely high antibacterial activity against various types of foodborne pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and its role as a cancer-prevention method was acknowledged because it breaks down burnt substances believed to cause cancer.
Further, Professor Kinae of the University of Shizuoka is researching the synergistic effect of tea and wasabi ingredients, and there is a high degree of expectation that intermingling these ingredients will have an even higher cancer preventative effect.
Another fact discovered is that wasabi has antioxidant activity protecting against fat content oxidation within a living organism that can cause aging and disease.

Reasons behind the sushi boom

The Japanese have known first-hand about the effect and efficacy of the wasabi aroma for many years, and have integrated it into Japanese food. It has been used particularly as an essential accompaniment to the Japanese flagship foods - sushi and sashimi (raw fish).
When considering the background behind sushi's boom across the globe; the essentially good taste of sushi would have to be given as the top reason, followed by its status as a health-food supporting the longevity of the Japanese people. Also I would like worldwide fans of sushi to acknowledge once again that the fact which the combination of sushi and wasabi have now been scientifically-proven.
People interested in wasabi should refer to the Japanese homepage - "Shizuoka ken mikan engei ka (in Japanese) - Shizuoka Prefecture Tangerine Horticultural Department - ".

Fūrin (Wind-chime)

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Fūrin (Wind-chime)

China, the Origin of Wind-chimes

image101116_02.jpgChina is the origin of wind-chimes, of which the oldest in the Xia Dynasty, (18th century B.C.) was discovered. Bronze bells were hooked on and hanging down from the eaves to remove the negative vibes from home with ring of the bell. The bells are called as Fūtaku in Japan, which you can see hanging down from the four corners of temples and towers.

Fūtaku came down to Japan in the 7th century

Fūtaku came down to Japan from China, and was used as a lucky charm to ward off evils. The Fūtaku used by temples in the 7th century are in existence. It is Hounen (1133 - 1212) who renamed Fūtaku to "Fūrei (for which same Chinese letters were used for Fūrin but read as Fūrei in those days)" in the Kamakura Era. In the "Hounen Shonin Gyojo Ezu (Illustrations of Buddhistic Holly Priest Hounen's Biography), you will see that Fūrei is hooked on and hanging down from the eaves of the temple.

Hounen Shonin Gyojo Ezu (Illustrations of Buddhistic Holly Priest Hounen's Biography)

"Hounen loved and brought Fūrei with him to everywhere he visited, because he wished to hear wind blowing through the trees of seven jewels in heaven and longed for sounds of ripples in the Hakkudokuchi (the pond which filled with eight good actions in heaven)...," said Hounen. Fūrei bells served as equipment to replicate sounds of the Pure Land in the Impure World by ringing. This indicates that Japanese in those days had an exquisite sense of hearing and appreciated sounds in the nature.

As a seasonal tradition in summer

Fūrei used to use throughout four seasons in ancient times. It was recreated as a seasonal tradition in summer, i.e. Fūrin. Glass Fūrin became widespread in the latter half of the Edo era. It is said that glassworks artisans in Nagasaki disseminated it nationwide. Fūrin became a very popular and necessary item for Edo (current Tokyo) citizens to 'ward off' summer heat instead of evils. In 11th year of Bunsei (1828), Kagaya, a trading company in Edo, run the first advertisement of Fūrin in its brochure of glass products called Hikifuda.

Hikifuda of glass products

Glass Fūrin fascinated Edo citizens with its shiny appearance and soothing chimes. That was the moment when "Edo Fūrin" was established and become the best partner of natural breeze.

No sales pitch but many buyers; Fūrin dharma emerges from its famous chime.
This Kyoka (satirical poem) depicted a Fūrin street vendor in the end of the Edo era.
It is interpreted that Fūrin chimed in a gentle wind, so that the vendor had no need to pitch the whole time.
Generally, Fūrin is shaped like a small bell. In the bell, there is a part called as Zetsu (a tongue), which has a small hole. A thread is passed through the hole, and a strip of paper is tied at the end of the thread. When wind blows against the strip of paper, the Zetsu hit the bell part which makes a cool and soothing sound.
Edo Fūrin

image101116_01.jpgEdo Fūrin is one of more than 200-year old traditional craftsmanship. Glass Fūrin is made by the traditional free-blowing method without casting. Molten glass is inflated and shaped at the one end of a blowpipe into a desired shape. It takes at least a decade for glassblowers to obtain an artisanal skill that they can make every Fūrin same size and evenly thick (about 1 mm). There is only one Fūrin manufacturer in this century.

TOPICS: Japan, a country richly endowed with natural rustling music

Japanese best hundred soundscapes
In 1996, the Ministry of the Environment publicly solicited soundscapes which should be handed down from generation to generation, and chose the Japanese Best Hundred Soundscapes. From Hokkaido to Okinawa, a broad array of sounds are selected and certified as worth preservation, including bell sounds, birds' songs, chirps, waves, sounding sands, festival musics and so on.
  The iron Fūrin of the Mizusawa Station, Iwate prefecture, was chosen as the soundscope of the hometown of Nanbu ironware.
  The Japanese archipelago has been rich in soundscopes since ancient times, because there have been beloved by many people.

Surrounded by songs of autumn insects,
In the midst of three fields
At the foot of Mt. Iwate,
I am just humble to their beauty
by Takuboku Ishikawa(Japanese Poet)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the 2. Culture of Glass category from November 2010.

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