Perfume Story: November 2010 Archives

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)


Reflections of Women in a Three-Way Mirror

Looking for a present for beautiful women with flawless-complexions? Give them perfume!

While Japanese women are said to have the most beautiful complexions, there are also "flawless-complexion beauties" overseas who take special care of their attractive skin. Surprisingly, these girls are all fanciers of perfume.

First, we interview a 20 years old woman from Cairo, Egypt.

image101107_01.jpgThe woman, who is currently enrolled as a third year university student studying Japanese, finally arrives home at her apartment after overcoming what is said to be the worst congestion in the world. The apartment is shared with her parents and five others. Opening the apartment window, she gets to see a world-famous landmark every day as Al-Jizah and the Pyramids are almost within touching distance. She's a typical Egyptian beauty with lusciou eyebrows, sparkling eyes and long hair. Her skin is slightly swarthy but moist, which is unusual considering Cairo's dry climate. Praising her beautiful complexion, she remarks that her morning and evening cleaning routine consists merely of a face-wash, and that she doesn't apply face-lotion or skin milk. Maintaining her beautiful complexion with such a method may seem hard to believe but one can say with conviction that she has no skin troubles. It seems that this make-up method is popular among Egyptian women, however, when going out it is normal to apply make-up such as foundation, eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara. Eye make-up is particularly used. She has always been interested in make-up, with a special affection for perfume. When asked to identify the perfume bottles lined up in front of the mirror, she introduces 11 different types. Egyptian women sure do love their perfume.

The second interviewee is a 20 year old woman from Helsinki, Finland.

image101107_02.jpgShe lives in a house in a residential area just outside the city center with her family of two parents and three siblings. She brings me an apple pie that she had been baking since the morning which seems to be the norm as most Finnish households have an apple tree in their garden. In her two-storied house, the windowsills are adorned with Block Lamp by Finnish-born designer Harri Koskinen and items from New York's Museum of Modern Art MoMA design collection. On the sofa one can find popular Marimekko Finnish-made cushions, and there is a flower-vase made from German pottery. Indeed, the whole house has a stylish north-European flavor. Her skin is like silk. As a child, small blemishes were a problem so facial cleansing and cream in the morning and at night are a must. She also remarks that once a week on Sunday, she gives her skin a rest from cosmetics. Despite her youthful age, she is already taking care of her skin. She answers that cosmetics and perfume are "necessary for public appearances" however she has never once purchased perfume herself, instead receiving them all as Christmas presents from her family and boyfriend. The perfume box she opens and shows me is full of bottles. In Finland, make-up is often done in front of a mirror. Although it may seem a little inconvenient, it sums up Finland's typical way of doing things. Embedding such things into everyday routine makes it convenient.

Our third interviewee comes from San Francisco and is 19 years old.

image101107_03.jpgShe recently graduated high school and has ambition to study at a music college in Europe. Her home, located in a high-class neighborhood, was built in 1920 and is full of antique furniture. She is the only child to a French father, who is a lawyer, and an American mother. Getting down to business, one look at her face and you can see she is attractively made-up. Asking about her make-up routine, she replies that she applies face-wash about three times a week. Seeing my doubtful expression, she remarks that normally she only washes with water and doesn't apply anything afterwards. In other words, her earlier comment about make-up refers to the face-wash she put on today, but at the same time she doesn't use skincare products. Despite such comments, her face looks like she is wearing nice foundation. Surprised, I repeat my question but she says that her mother similarly has nice skin without using anything. She's not wearing make-up now but she does when she goes out. She brings and shows me her own personal cosmetic box, which consists entirely of French-made cosmetics. Her outlook on make-up is that it is fun and she enjoys getting a makeover. She especially wears make-up when she meets a guy but rather than using it to attract attention, she wears it to put herself at ease. However, when it comes to perfume, she constantly wears it in or out, and sees a person's smell as a part of their appearance. She either buys the fragrance from France or gets t as a present from people familiar with her tastes such as her father and boyfriends. Again, one can't help be surprised that a girl with such beautiful skin loves perfume so much.

Topics - Dyed with "Safflower" : The forever-blooming "Rouge Flower"

Safflower is an annual flower belonging to the asteraceae family. Its original place of growth was along the Egyptian Nile but its seeds and cultivation knowledge soon found its way down the Silk Road. From there it traversed the Korean peninsula, eventually arriving in Japan during the period of Empress Suiko's reign (593-629). In the Edo Period, Dewa safflower was given the name "Mogami ( the name of the production region also meaning 'top class' ) Safflower" because of its high-quality, reaching a peak from the Kyoho era (1716-1735). Safflower was immediately picked after spreading its pretty bright-yellow petals in early July, and processed into small, coin shaped disks called beni-mochi. Beni-mochi was then assembled in Sakata port, discharged to Tsuruga port by Kitamae-bune (northern-bound ships), transported across the Lake Biwa, and then delivered to Kyoto. Kyoto's safflower dyers made bright red dye from the beni-mochi, and with that colored the lips and nails of Kyoto women and provided dye for beautiful, red costumes. By the time of the Meiji Restoration, safflower declined due to the influx of foreign-made chemical dyes, and eventually disappeared. However, the safflower continues to live on behind the scenes. Garments used for Imperial court festivities are always dyed with Yamagata safflowers. At the Crown Prince's wedding ceremony on June 9 1993, the grenadine-colored robe that his Highness wore for his sokutai dress (ceremonial coat dress) had been dyed with traditional safflower. In the Edo period "Sumo Ranking List of Domestic Produces", it is documented that a second wrestler called "Dewa no Mogami Benibana (Top-class Dewa Safflower)" belonged to the East corner while "Awa no Ai Dama (Awa Indigo Ball)" belonged to the West, creating the two deep red ( beni ) and indigo ( ai ) dyeing culture in Japan.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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