Monday, January 10, 2022

Ishigaki Sea Salt

The Taste of the Southern Seas - Ishigaki Sea Salt

by Johannes Schonherr

Ishigaki Sea Salt, harvested from the crystal clear waters of Nagura Bay on the subtropical island of Ishigaki in the far southwest of Japan is a strong-tasting, mineral-rich salt bringing the fragrance of Japan's southern seas right to your palate.

The fragrance of a southern island famous for its coral waters, fresh seafood but also for the beef raised further inland. It's a very fine, powder-like salt produced in a small local facility - but wait, maybe we should give the salt a bit of historical context first.

Ishigaki coastline, Okinawa.
Ishigaki coastline, Okinawa

History

Driving around the Japanese countryside, you sometimes spot a vintage grocery store proudly displaying the words 酒タバコ塩 in a prominent spot next to the name of the business. Those words mean "liquor, tobacco, salt". They also signify that the business had its full accreditation afforded by the government since liquor, tobacco, and salt were under strict state control.

While this is still the case with liquor and tobacco, the Japanese government eventually relaxed the regulations in the case of salt. In 1997, the government lifted all restrictions.

Ishigaki sea salt factory.
Ishigaki sea salt factory

Soon, small privately-owned sea salt processing facilities sprang up all along Japan's coasts. Stop at any rural seaside michi-no-eki (roadside rest house featuring a permanent and often quite large local farmer's market) and you will find packages of the locally produced sea salt.

From Okhotsk Sea Salt on the northern shore of Hokkaido taken from the waters bordering Siberia all the way down the non-industrial areas of the Sea of Japan coast to Kyushu. There, Amakusa Sea Salt from the Amakusa Islands in Nagasaki is especially sort after. The scenic Japanese Inland Sea has its very own culture of producing sea salt and so does Okinawa.

With that great diversification of locally produced salts, soon a Japanese salt gourmet culture sprang up. People began to compare which salt fitted which dishes best. Salt aficionados took long tours to visit famous salt spots to build up salt collections for their kitchens - so they could choose which salt to use for which dish.

Salt cooker and salt processing by hand.
Salt cooker and salt processing by hand

Okinawa

Okinawa became the center of this salt-sampling culture. Paradise Plan, a small company producing especially mild sea salt in a flaky form named Yukishio (Snow Salt) on the island of Miyakojima, was the first to act on the trend. They opened a store named Masuya (salt store) in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, offering 120 kinds of salt sourced worldwide.

From Himalayan rock salt to North American and Mediterranean to obscure stone salts hammered out of the Argentinian Andes, the Naha Masuya had it all. Still, their focus was on local Okinawa salts. By now, you can find Masuya salt stores in Tokyo and other major Japanese cities, employing salt sommeliers who take care of all your salty needs.

Salt cleaning by hand.
Salt cleaning by hand

Ishigaki Sea Salt

One of the most featured salts in any Masuya store is Ishigaki no Shio, Ishigaki Sea Salt from the island of Ishigaki in the Yaeyama archipelago in southern Okinawa.

Located close to Taiwan, Ishigaki has its very own traditional culture. The Yaeyama Islands were once home to 13 different languages, most of them today being considered extinct or close to it.

Walking through the market in Ishigaki City, however, you will overhear plenty of frantic haggling using speech that is decidedly neither Japanese nor Chinese. Those market ladies still make good use of those old languages academic linguists keep worrying about.

Sun drying Ishigaki salt.
Sun drying Ishigaki salt

Enter Tokuhide Togo, a native of the island. A former diver, he was always interested in what the sea had to offer. After the liberation of the salt law in 1997, he turned his occasional experiments with extracting salt from the sea into a business.

Togo's Ishigaki Salt has a much stronger taste than the Miyakojima salt and is a fine powder, applicable to everyday use and simply called Ishigaki no Shio (Ishigaki Salt).

Visitors to the small factory are welcome. There is a small on-site store selling not only the salt in its various forms but also sweets produced using the salt. Delicious stuff. Ishigaki salt cookies are highly recommended.

Ishigaki Sea Salt production steps.
Ishigaki Sea Salt production steps

A diagram explains, in brief, the patented manufacturing method of the salt: seawater is taken from the bay, sand and stones are filtered out, the water is collected in a tank. The water gets evaporated, thus concentrating the salt. The salt is dried in a sunlit room. Then, it's on to packing and the product is ready for sale.

Pipes take fresh water from the sea.
Pipes take fresh water from the sea

A large glass front gives you a peek inside the main processing room where you can see workers in protective gear handle the salt. Stroll down to the shore. There you see two pipes leading into the clean natural bay. Those are the pipes that take the seawater in for salt production. In the far distance, you see another, smaller but hilly island. To the right, you can see the Omoto-dake, at 526 meters the highest mountain in all of Okinawa. From there, the Nagura River flows down into the sea, assuring a constant cleaning of the water in the bay. Quite a peaceful scenery.

Purchase Ishigaki salt from GoodsFromJapan.com.
Purchase Ishigaki salt from GoodsFromJapan.com

While a visit to the Ishigaki Sea Salt factory is highly recommended, you can easily buy the salt online from Goods from Japan.

If you are interested in other Japanese sea salts as well, building up a small collection for your kitchen, Goods from Japan will cater to all your needs. Just contact us, we are more than happy to help.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

I'm a Cat

I'm a Cat

『吾輩は猫である』は言わずと知れた明治の文豪、夏目漱石の傑作。主人公の猫の視点から浅はかな人間世界を描いたカリカチュアだ。

英語のタイトルは “I'm a cat." まあそのまんまなんだけど、これで言い得ているかなーというとちょっと微妙。猫のあの高慢さ、上から目線な感じは「吾輩」と自らを称するところに集約されていると思いませんか? それがI'm a cat. になるとペーソスよりもコミカルさが勝ってしまうような気もする。一度ぜひ全編を英語で読んで確かめてみたいものだ。

I am a CatI am a Cat

I am a cat.

I'm a cat named 'Taikan'.

最近は猫のブログや動画も大流行で、巷にはかわいい猫ちゃんたちがたくさんアップされている。まさに “I'm a cat." ワールド。中には犬みたいにお手をする猫もいたりして、日本の猫も変わったなーと思う。猫は自由奔放、勝手気ままが本性なのだけれど、内(うち)猫として屋内に閉じ込められているとそうもいかず、愛玩動物としての行動を強いられているようにも見受けられる。まあ、飼い主さんがそういう猫ちゃんとの暮らしをアピールしているだけなのかもしれませんけどね。

私の実家では、昔からずっと猫を飼っていた。昔の農家には米蔵があって、ネズミを退治するのに猫はいて当たり前の存在だった。そんな猫たちは半野良。好きな時間に出かけて行って、好きな時間に家に帰ってくる。毎日が自由気ままな日々。縦横無尽に野生を謳歌していたなあ。

ある猫は、捕まえたネズミを夜中家族に見せびらかしに来たり、ある猫は押し入れの布団で5匹も6匹も子を産み落としたり。父の軽トラに乗って遠くに行ったきり、行方不明になってしまった猫もいた。諦めかけた一週間後、国道を渡って帰ってきて、「あらー、帰ってきたのぉ!」なんて、皆で大喜びした日もあった。猫と一緒の暮らしは飽きることなく楽しかった。

3代目ミーは、ある日、隣の養鶏場の庭にまかれていた農薬を食べて死んでしまった。自滅。桶に突っ込んでおぼれて死んでしまった『吾輩は猫である』の主人公と同じだ。自由気ままに生活を楽しんだ末の最後。悲しかったけど、感心した。母の口癖は「賢い猫は決して死ぬところを見せない」だった。私は私、好きなようにいたします、お先に。猫の矜持がそこにある。

Maneki neko from Seto, Aichi.
Buy maneki neko from Seto-shi, Aichi

海外でも人気、招き猫グッズはこちらから↓

Purchase maneki neko from Japan

Monday, November 29, 2021

Kyoto Noren

Kyoto Noren 京都ののれん

Kyoto is particularly famous for its production of cotton and silk kimono and obi (belts). The centuries of acquired expertise in the fields of design, dyeing, and fabric weaving are also evident in Kyoto's famed noren.

Striking orange noren outside a hotel housed in a traditional machiya.
Striking orange noren outside a hotel housed in a traditional machiya

Perhaps nowhere in Japan are noren curtains as much in evidence as Japan's ancient capital. Nearly every shop of business seems to have a noren curtain outside its entrance. Indeed some businesses such as hairdressers would never have a noren in other Japanese cities. It would be considered far too old-fashioned.

Kimono & Tea Ceremony Maikoya.
Kimono & Tea Ceremony Maikoya

In Kyoto, however, tradition is trendy and even the most contemporary-looking hairdressers or boutique hotel may well have a traditional noren curtain hung outside.

Colors and shapes vary, though plain black and white, in the best traditions of wabi-sabi, seems to predominate. At night, too, white is easily visible.

Even hairdressers in Kyoto may have a noren curtain.
Even hairdressers in Kyoto may have a noren curtain

Here the calligraphy adds interest to the design.
Here the calligraphy adds interest to the design

Simple black and white design.
Simple black and white design

Salon de gigi dog salon
Salon de gigi dog studio

Nazuna, Kyoto.
Nazuna, a traditional Japanese inn, near Nijo Castle

Contact GoodsFromJapan to have your own noren designed and made in Kyoto.
Contact GoodsFromJapan to have your own noren designed and made in Kyoto

Kyoto noren.
Kyoto noren

Venichu
Housing materials company

Goods From Japan sells a variety of noren or we can design and create your own. 

Contact GoodsFromJapan to have your own noren designed and made in Kyoto.

© GoodsFromJapan.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Randoseru Japanese Elementary School Backpacks

Randoseru

Randoseru (ランドセル) are stiff, leather backpacks used by Japanese elementary school children from ages 6 to 12.

They are exceptionally well-made and are expected to last for the whole of a child's elementary school education.

The range in price up to 800 USD for the very best made-in-Japan quality.

Randoseru
Randoseru

The Name

The origin of the loan word randoseru is not clear. It may derive from the German Ranzen or Dutch ransel which both mean "backpack" or "satchel".

Another possibility is that the word comes from the German Landser or soldier as the Japanese backpack has some similarity to a Landser's equipment bag.

The practice of elementary children carrying randoseru began at the Gakushuin (学習院) or Peers School in Tokyo, at the time an elite institution for educating children from the highest levels of Japanese society.

Randoseru now come in a variety of colors
Randoseru now come in a variety of colors, though black and red are standard

Colors

Randoseru now come in a variety of colors but the standards are navy blue or black for boys and red for girls.

Yellow covers are sometimes seen over the backpack to protect them from the rain and also to increase visibility on roads where there are no sidewalks.

They can be found all year round in department stores but are often purchased in the spring before the school year begins in April.

The best randoseru are hand-made in a time-consuming process.

GoodsFromJapan has randoseru on sale or if you are looking for a specific color please contact us.

Order a randoseru from GoodsFromJapan

© GoodsFromJapan

Thursday, October 14, 2021

We love Natto!

We love Natto!

先日、東京農工大の研究グループが、納豆に含まれる成分に新型コロナウイルスの感染を阻害する効果があるとの実験結果を発表しました。

これ、本当だったら嬉しいですよね。納豆生産のお膝元、茨城県で生まれ育った私にはかかせないご飯のお供。これでコロナを予防できたら百人力です。

真偽のほどはまだ検証を要するでしょうが、納豆が体の免疫力を高める栄養食品であることは確かです。

We love natto!
納豆
S-903
コロナにも勝つ? 注目の納豆菌 S903


納豆神話のもう一つに「外国人は納豆が苦手」というのがあります。

果たしてこれ、本当でしょうか?

確かに最初はもちろんあの独特の匂いにやられて、鼻をつまむ人は多いです。

でも私の知る限り、一度食べ慣れると、外国の方も結構 Natto 好きですよ。

「安いし、お腹にたまるし、サイコー!」なんて言ってます。

英国人やオーストラリア人にはしょっぱさが Marmite というビール酵母を主原料としたスプレッドに似ているらしく、懐かしさも感じるようです。

日本は諸外国に比べて物価が高いので、スーパー等で買い求めやすいのも魅力。

納豆大使としては、このコロナ禍、ぜひ納豆でみなさんの健康を維持していただきたいです。

生の納豆は輸出できませんが、海外にも送れる人気のフリーズドライ納豆、納豆パウダー、サプリをご紹介します↓

Natto Supplement Capsules | Goods From Japan

Natto
Natto Supplement Capsules


外国に住む日本の方へのプレゼントにも喜ばれますよ。

私のお友達は、英国でなんとか納豆を自家製造しようと日々格闘しています。大豆を買い込み、ヨーグルトメーカーに放り込んで、菌を混ぜ込み、ひたすら発酵待ち。。。

納豆はまさに毎日食べずにいられないdaily foodsなんですね。お豆腐みたいに、早く外国のスーパーにも置いてほしい!

Natto
Natto Powder

Natto Supplement Capsules | Goods From Japan

Natto Powder | Goods From Japan

Monday, October 11, 2021

Japan's Wholly Edible Organic Banana

Japan's Wholly Edible Organic Banana

We think we know bananas, but you don't know them properly until you've met the "Next 716" from Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan. This very expensive banana is not only cultivated organically, i.e., completely chemical-free, but you can also eat the skin!

Next 716 organic Japanese banana in its own box.
"Next 716" organic Japanese banana.

We splashed out and tried a "Next 716" at our local supermarket here in Tokyo. It looked beautiful and, this being Japan, it was beautifully packaged in its own special box.

As you can see from the photo of the banana in the box, it wasn't quite ripe when we bought it, so we gave it four or five days.

When it had turned a beautiful golden-yellow, we cut it up - skin and all - and put it on our breakfast. 

A ripe Next 716 organic Japanese banana.
A ripe "Next 716" organic Japanese banana.

We were most interested in how the skin would taste. Well, it certainly wasn't as sweet as the deliciously sweet banana itself, but it wasn't face-screwingly bitter either. In other words, they had done a pretty good job of making the skin edible.

And, of course, with no chemicals used in cultivating the banana, there is no risk of ingesting chemicals by eating the skin.

Would we buy the "Next 716" again? Yes, if we were trying to impress a visitor with a uniquely Japanese product! (Or, should we say, a uniquely Japanese version of what is originally a South-East Asian product.)

The "Next 716" was by far the most delicious banana we've ever tasted and is a lesser-known food delicacy that any visitor to Japan should try.

Buy Japanese Food Products From GoodsFromJapan

Friday, September 17, 2021

変なホテル henn na Hotel は変じゃないホテルー仙台

Henn na Hotel

先日オープンしたばかりの「変なホテル 仙台国分町」に泊まってきました!

まず、何が変かというと、ホテルに入るといきなりロボットのホログラムがお出迎え↓

変なホテル henn na Hotel

非対面式のチェックインです。最近、病院とかでも多いですよね。

タッチパネルに打ち込んで受付は簡単に済ませられます。

これ何がいいかと言うと、コロナ感染予防はもちろん、いちいちホテルに出入りするときの鬱陶しさがない!

受付の人に「行ってらっしゃいませー」とか「お帰りなさい!」とか言われるの、サービスだとわかってはいるけれど、見張られているようで嫌な時ありますよね?

それがないので、泊まる身にはストレスフリーです。

さて、お部屋の中はこんな感じです。全然変じゃない!

それどころか、最新鋭の設備で超居心地いいです。

変なホテル henn na Hotel

まず、枕が最高。LOFTYというブランドのホテルピローを採用しています。

身長154cm、頭は平均的日本人絶壁型の私が数年ぶりによく眠れたなーと思いました。

正直、お取り寄せも考えています。

Amazon.co.jp : LOFTY 快眠枕 ホテルピロー 高さ:標準 (M) ホテル仕様 リバーシブル (綿・パイプ) 洗える まくら (洗濯機対応) 安眠枕 : ホーム&キッチン

もう一つは、クリーニングマシーンのLGスタイラー。

着た洋服をハンガーにかけておくだけで、嫌な臭いやしわを蒸気が除去してくれます。洋服をリフレッシュして翌朝は出発。旅先で洗濯をする暇がない時など、便利ですよね。除菌コースもプラスできるので、コロナ禍での旅では心強い味方!

変なホテル henn na Hotel

ということで、「変なホテル henn na Hotel 」は全然変なホテルじゃありません。

オープンしたての今は、ダブルルーム1泊1名 5,063円~。(2021年9月現在)

平日ということもあり、学生や若者のゲストが多かったですが、サラリーマンや大人のカップル旅にこそ使ってほしい。コスパ最高のホテル、お薦めです!

www: 変なホテル henn na Hotelを予約

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Noren in Tohoku

Noren in Tohoku

Tohoku (東北) is the name for northeast Japan. The region consists of the following prefectures - Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata.

Noren from Tohoku
Noren from Tohoku

Sendai, the largest city, on the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo and Ueno stations is regarded as the main gateway to the region.

Tohoku is known for its apples in Aomori, rice and sake in Akita, fine food, craft beer (hops are grown here), beautiful women, and largely impenetrable accents.

Tohoku curtains
Noren in Tohoku showing a family crest or mon

The noren curtains you will see outside shops and businesses in the area reflect Tohoku's distinctive culture and its many festivals. In particular, Tanabata in Sendai, Neputa in Hirosaki, and Nebuta in Aomori city are major annual festivals. All draw thousands of visitors in a normal year.

The goldfish nebuta lanterns seen in the first and last photograph are believed to ward off bad luck. The lantern floats of the Nebuta festival itself are a common motif as are dragonflies and the mon (crests) of the one-time feudal lords (daimyo) of the region.

Tohoku noren curtains
Tohoku noren curtains

Noren curtains hung outside a shop or restaurant indicate whether it is open or not. They also define a transition from a public to a more private and intimate space.

Goldfish noren
Goldfish nebuta lanterns ward off bad luck

Related

Kyoto Noren

© GoodsFromJapan.com

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Custom Happi Ideas For 2020

Custom Happi Ideas For 2020

With the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon many people and businesses will be thinking of having custom happi coats made if traveling to Japan for the big event.

Custom Happi Ideas For 2020


Pricing depends on 1) the number of colors, 2) the complexity of design, and 3) the number of coats. Making the first coat is always the most expensive step and the per unit cost drops with the number of coats.

Happi Ideas For 2020


Usually it takes between 4-6 weeks to complete the order.

Designs should be sent in Adobe Illustrator format please.

Design image.

Please contact us for a custom happi quote and further details.

Customer's design


© GoodsFromJapan.com

Friday, January 12, 2018

Custom Happi Coats 2018

Custom Happi Coats 2018

If you would like a custom happi coat made for your group or circle please contact us.

Custom Happi Coats 2018.


The happi coats become cheaper the more you have made and an order of 20 or more can work out very reasonable indeed.

Our happi coats are made in Kyoto by a family business that has been producing festival happi coats for generations. They do not have a template but can work with an image or full description sent by the client.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Custom Happi Coats 2018.

© GoodsFromJapan.com

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

MegRhythm Steam Eye Masks and Patches

MegRhythm Steam Eye Masks and Patches

Made-in-Japan MegRhythm Steam Patches and Eye Masks, from Kao Corporation.
MegRhythm Steam Eye Masks and Warming Patches
MegRhythm is a line of steam-generating, warming, and moisturizing eye masks and patches from Kao, one of Japan's leading personal care and cosmetics manufacturers.

Open one of these disposable eyemasks and place it over your eyes for a full 10 minutes of 40-degree-Celsius warmth - about the same temperature as a nice warm bath.

The Steam Eyemasks provide ten minutes of steamy warmth once opened, for a wave of blissfully skin-toning relaxation.

The Goodnight Patch provides no less than 30 minutes of warmth, soothing tired and aching muscles, especially for the neck and back.

Check out the following six varieties of mask and patch:

MegRhythm Steam Eye Mask, Menthol

MegRhythm Steam Eye Masks and Patches


MegRhythm Steam Eye Masks and Patches


MegRhythm Steam Eye Mask, Unscented

MegRhythm Steam Eye Masks and Patches

GoodsFromJapan.com


MegRhythm Steam Eye Mask - Yuzu Aroma

GoodsFromJapan.com

GoodsFromJapan.com

MegRhythm Steam Eye Mask Chamomile & Ginger Aroma

GoodsFromJapan.com

GoodsFromJapan.com


MegRhythm Steam Eye Mask Lavender & Sage Aroma

GoodsFromJapan.com

GoodsFromJapan.com


MegRhythm Good-Night Steam Patch

GoodsFromJapan.com

GoodsFromJapan.com

All are available from GoodsFromJapan, for reliable, same-day dispatch to wherever you live.

14 pieces per pack.

Sleep better, feel better, order today - for yourself or loved ones.

© GoodsFromJapan.com