Bebe Taian: July 2012

July 31, 2012

Teriyaki Tori-niku

This one should be familiar! Teriyaki tori-niku: teriyaki chicken!

It's ridiculously easy, really. You can technically even make yaki-tori, chicken grilled on skewers, with this recipe. Just serve with rice and vegetables (try goma-ae!), and it's the perfect obento meal.

1/2c shoyu (soy sauce)
3/4c mirin (if you don't have mirin, use 4-5tbsp brown sugar and 1c water)
3/4c sake
2tbsp cornstarch
1/4c water
1/2tsp grated ginger (or about 1/2"-1")
A pinch of garlic powder, optional

Mix the cornstarch with 1/4c cold water. Put the other ingredients into your smallest saucepan and heat slowly, about med-low heat, until just bubbling, but not boiling. Add the cornstarch water to the pan and stir until it thickens. If it's too thick, add more water. Just be careful not to let it get too hot. Take it off the stove when it's thick enough.

TERIYAKI TORI-NIKU: Teriyaki chicken

1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can use other meats; this is just my favourite), sliced into thinner strips
2-3tbsp vegetable oil
Skewers, if making yaki-tori
Pinch of pepper and salt
Sesame seeds to garnish, optional

Heat a pan with a little vegetable oil in the bottom of it, so nothing sticks. Cook the chicken on both sides, searing to keep in the juices. Add pepper and salt to taste. Add a little water into the pan and cover it to let the chicken cook the rest of the way through. It should be golden-brown on both sides. You can spoon some teriyaki sauce over it at this stage and let it cook in a little, or you can remove the chicken from the heat and drizzle it with the sauce on the plate. Optional: garnish the chicken with sesame seeds.

July 29, 2012

Website-building Woes Finally Over!

I'm... not the brightest. :P I'm really not. I started a website on Weebly in an effort to leave behind the horrible problems with Artfire, Etsy, and Ebay, and all of their fees upon fees and privacy issues that they refuse to acknowledge. Like that time Artfire released hundreds of users' addresses and purchase info to random users due to some kind of service glitch... and didn't even apologise for it. I'd rather NOT see a scenario where that happens to my customers!

But I took so long to build it. I really wasn't sure of my colour scheme, what I'd do besides list kimono, how to integrate the blog, etc. And creating a website with Weebly when so much stuff can't be saved as a template is tedious. I have two other jobs, and not a lot of time. So I just went at it little by little in my free time, when I could think well enough to type. :P

But here's the thing: I don't really know what I'm doing with CSS and new HTML, so I'm not building my own cart, and Weebly's cart is not optimal. But for now, it is a free site that I can build without putting up hundreds of dollars for design and hosting, until I have enough business to put in the funds for a better site. I'm working within the template as best as I can- it's just the cart!

The cart goes directly through Paypal, which is very secure and takes credit cards. Transactions are done through Paypal, not through my host. I can set prices on Weebly for the items by themselves, but not shipping. OR I can include the shipping price WITH the item price, but if you try to, say, buy five kimono, you'll suddenly be charged $60 for shipping vs. maybe $9-12 for Priority Mail + Insurance. That can put you over your Paypal or bank account limit. So, I have opted for invoicing for shipping costs separately.

The good news is that unlike previously, where you had to sign up for Artfire or Etsy or wonder if a listing had expired, Weebly requires no such stuff. There is nothing to sign up for to use my site. Just have a Paypal account! Listings don't expire, for better or worse. This is something I also have to work on- figuring out the quantity options, which don't seem readily apparent. Working on it!

But the beginning is up. A few items are listed across the various categories. Some pages are still being filled in. I have another big announcement to make in the next few weeks regarding kimono stuff, so I have to check what else I can list for sale right now. Want to check it out?

July 26, 2012

4th Anniversary! Woohoo!

Today is the 4th Anniversary of meeting my husband. I have no idea how he puts up with me. Especially not for as long as he has! I'm very excited.

I don't think I'll wear kimono today, but maybe I will. We're going to the place where we met, a local coffee house called Sacred Grounds. We don't go very often, but it is a special place. More than likely, I'll wear what I have left of the clothing I wore the first time we met, for old times' sake. I no longer have the knee-high boots I owned then, having worn them to pieces, but the gold corset and black dress is still around! With gold, brown, and burnt orange makeup and gold jewellery, it'll be a great night. A shame my friend isn't playing tonight! It was because of his show that I even went to SG the night I met DH. Otherwise, I would have completely missed him!

DH has helped me in so many ways over the years. In fact, you can thank him for being the one to get this 'BebeTaian' thing off the ground! It is because of him that I've been able to collect and store my kimono, and have the internet access to study about my hobby and resell items here in America. Because of him, I have been able to expand what I knew about cultural traditions in Japan, and make new friends outside of my own area. And he doesn't mind when I rant about this stuff... a big bonus. ^_~ I've had some other good news this week, but that'll have to wait for it's own post. In the meantime, I'm heading out to dinner and coffee!


Went out for coffee, and man, I'd forgotten how strong they make it there! I started getting a headache from the caffeine about halfway through the mug, and that's after milking it down! Fortunately, DH is in love with the stuff, so he finished it up for me. Then bookstore, and Wal-mart. I got a new binder! <3 Yayyyy~ My old one was full. So, yep. No kimono stuff was involved, but I do have a project to unveil soon.

July 23, 2012

Mannered Mondays: Ojigi, A Followup

This week, a followup to the previous post on the importance of ojigi (bowing). This segment also comes from a book by Boye De Mente, a 1981 edition of Japanese Manners & Ethics in Business. It seems that the title (and presumably, content) changed with subsequent editions. This is to be expected; after all, social customs do change over the years. As this edition was written 30 years ago, please keep in mind that it may not entirely apply to todays' actions.

This post is typed verbatim from Japanese Manners & Ethics in Business.

Ojigi - Politeness Makes Perfect

The first-time visitor to Japan is always struck by the wonderful politeness of the people. No other Japanese trait or accomplishment has come in for so much praise. But there is an element of misunderstanding inherent in accepting this politeness at face value because it often misleads Westerners who are unfamiliar with the character and role of traditional Japanese etiquette.

For one thing, not all of the famous politeness of the Japanese should be automatically equated with feelings of kindness, regard or respect for others- a reaction that is all too common where first-time visitors to Japan are concerned.

The Japanese are, of course, perfectly capable of being polite in the fullest sense of the word and probably are genuinely more polite than most other people, but what the foreigner sees, and is often overly impressed by, is strictly a mechanical role that has little or nothing to do with personal feelings of the individuals concerned.

Many Westerners, especially Americans of the tourist variety, lavish praise upon the Japanese for this formal politeness. But most are basing their judgment of Japanese politeness on such things as the pretty doll-like elevator and escalator girls who work in department stores and deluxe hotels. These girls, picked for looks and dressed in cute uniforms, stand and bow and repeat the same lines all day long in self-effacing, heart-rendering voices that remind one of the chirping of baby birds that have fallen out of their nest.

July 20, 2012

Eat Eel to Beat Summer Fatigue!

Summer isn't nearly over yet, although Tsuyu has come to a close. The heat is still unbearable, and as my friend in Tokyo has informed me, the humidity isn't going anywhere!

Japanese humidity is (in)famous. As my grandfather, who was once stationed with the military in Japan forty or fifty years ago, has told me... it's enough to make the cloth dissolve right off your skin. Cotton doesn't last long for some people, so make sure you keep in the shade! Eat plenty of cucumbers and... eel.

For those unaccustomed to seafood, especially the rarer kinds in America, where fish and shrimp dominate the scene, eel is delicious. Much like calimari, it has to be prepared just right or else it becomes tough or rubbery, no good at all! Ideally, it should be very moist and tender, and should fall apart in the mouth. It is thought that eating eel on this day in particular would be enough to give a person the stamina they need to make it through the heat this season. And frankly, there might be something to that.

Eel meat is very rich in protein, vitamin A (100g of eel is said to contain 4,400IU, or about the same as 10 chicken eggs), D, and E, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. You don't need to eat a lot of it to benefit from the wealth of nutrients in the meat! It is particularly delicious broiled or baked, sliced up over rice, chopped tamagoyaki, and topped with crisp nori.

Today is 'Natsu no Doyou', or 'Doyou Ushi no Hi', a special one-day season to eat eel. Tonight at work, I ordered a roll we make with avocado, eel, and cream cheese, wrapped in nori, sushi rice, and orange smelt roe. This is topped with a sweet dark-brown 'eel sauce' and toasted sesame seeds. It's so good! Another favourite is our Dragon roll, which is a roll made of avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab, wrapped in nori and rice, topped with strips of avocado and eel in stripes. Perfect foods for summer, but because they contain avocado and/or cream cheese, you probably won't see them in Japan. Perhaps your local restaurant has some variation of unadon. We serve unajyu at ours, which is broiled eel over rice mixed with sweet egg omelet and some other vegetables for garnish and flavour. I certainly feel less fatigued after a good meal!

July 15, 2012

Ochuugen: Festival of the Dead

Ochuugen (or just 'Chuugen') is the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, held on the 15th of July according to the old calendar. I won't say too much about it this time, since I was working at the restaurant tonight.

Once, a feast would be held for the night when the dead are released from the Underworld, especially for one's ancestors and friends who had no family. Leave out plenty of delicious foods, such as white rice, citrus fruits, savoury things, and some delicate sweets for their enjoyment, and be sure to leave empty seats for them to take their place on that night! If there is a special ritual you would hold for them, this is the night. Treat them as if they are still living and enjoy your memories of times past.

Today, it is a gift-giving holiday, one of two major ones throughout the year. The next one is Oseibo in December. Each have their own buying and wrapping rules.

There was a lady who came in tonight and sadly, she didn't find much she liked out of what she ordered. But she did have the habit of sticking her chopsticks (ohashi) straight up in her rice- a custom reserved for serving food to the dead. Of course, I mention this only as a passing point of interest, given the atmosphere and relatively traditional interior architecture.

From a mystical point of view, some ghosts do not feel like returning to the Underworld, where they are now to live. They like to linger near the living- they cannot let go of this world, or perhaps a person misses someone who is alive and cannot be 'reached' from the other side of the veil. A ghost can drain the life out of a living person; it is not malicious, merely a side-effect of their condition. Therefore, it may become necessary to have your house ritually cleansed after this holiday by some priest, just to be sure the spirit is escorted properly back to the realm of the Dead.

July 12, 2012

Taisho-Era Bijin

It'll be awhile before I can afford new kimono (or rather, antique kimono), but in the meantime, I take notes from the fashion of the Taisho era:

Collars were starting to become narrower, and as evidenced by kimono I own, the collars on the kosode were sewn in half (not folded in half as they are today). This meant they had to be tied differently and had less room for overlap in the front, but it also provided more collar-showing in the front! Go for daintily embroidered collars, and let some show while you're young!

Bright colours with large prints were en vogue. A mix of traditional and non-traditional patterns were being explored! Think new colours (at the time) being introduced through chemical dyes, purple with teal and red, paired with white and black to make a bold, fresh statement. Keep the kimono in large prints, and the obi can be in smaller, more intricate designs. Keep your accessories (fans, kercheifs, etc.) to pastels.

Lots of obiage showing! Of course, the lady in the photo is probably a geisha (being the most popular models of the time), but even other models showed more obiage than today by comparison. Look to furisode guides for ideas on how to tie it. As for me, I hide a piece of folded paper in mine to keep it from crumpling on my weird figure. In Florida heat, there's NO WAY I'm putting in MORE padding on my sides! I'd die of stroke! So make adjustments where you can to get the look you want.

Vintage Ro Silk Kikyo Kanzashi - Atelier Kanawa
Hairpins: the traditional Japanese styles were falling of out fashion by the end of the 1910s, but hairpins were still all the rage. Simpler styles, but clean and oiled are a must. Add a few finger waves and bobby pins (check out those made by trained kanzashi artist Atelier Kanawa)! Since ro silk is in season right now, these would be perfect for a matching ensemble. Red, white, and blue seems like such a popular combo for antique kimono, especially with hakata obi. <3 Bekko combs were still legal then, too; today, you'll have to find faux tortoiseshell. Although, resin "tortoiseshell" hairpins are cheap and if you find it isn't your style, you won't feel bad about giving them away!

And if you want the authentic smell? Try a little tsubaki oil in your hair, a touch of perfume, and make sure you air your kimono out before you wear it to fade the scent of storage!

July 11, 2012

Favourite Food: Goma-Ae

I hate spinach. Let me be very clear about that. In general, I don't like leafy vegetables. Give me beans or cucumbers or celery any day, but unless something leafy is covered in Cesar dressing, I'm not at all for it. I'll do little bits of spinach here and there, in pasta, soaked in cheeses. But there is one meal that I can eat spinach in, by the pile. <3

One of the foods my homestay mother introduced me to was goma-ae. This strange pile of sauteed leafy stuff covered in what almost looked like black sand. I'd never had anything like it, so I figured I'd try it. I mean, she went through all the effort to cook for me, and she was especially careful to avoid fish or shellfish (which is a HUGE burden in Japan). At the time, I'd been under the impression that I was allergic to both. Turns out, I'm allergic to spices Americans commonly put on fish, but not to fish itself. I am allergic to shellfish, however. Only a little will have my face and neck covered in rashes. O.o O-san worked so hard to accommodate such a difficult person, so of course, I wouldn't refuse food! So, goma-ae.


I have to find her specific recipe, as it was given to me long ago. This is another one, adapted from "Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat".

.5lb spinach, coarse roots and bottoms of stems removed
2.5tbsp toasted and ground white sesame seeds (O-san used ground black sesame)
1.5tsp sugar (use unbleached, wherever possible)
1.5tsp shoyu
1tsp mirin
1 pinch salt

Wash the spinach to make sure dirt and residue comes off. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Turn down to medium-high heat and cook the spinach for 30 seconds or less, until it just wilts. It should still be bright green. Drain and refresh under cold water. Gently squeeze the spinach to release all the excess water. In a separate bowl, combine the other ingredients. Toss the dressing and spinach together. Adjust the dressing to your taste, but remember that it shouldn't be *too* sweet.

This side goes great by itself or with yakitori or kushiyaki beef (skewered, seared beef). I usually eat it with yakitori and seared green onions, and maybe a little bit of rice. Unfortunately, it isn't something any local restaurant I know of makes, so if I want some, it's up to me to make it at home! It isn't something I make in advance, though. I think it's too soggy if you do this. It has to be 'made to order'- make only what you'll eat in one sitting. The dressing perhaps could be set aside and refrigerated, but the spinach should be freshly cooked. Try it yourself! <3

July 9, 2012

Mannered Mondays: Etiquette of Old

I am very fortunate to own a third edition printing of "We Japanese", published by Fujiya Hotel in June, 1936. It is quite a difficult book to find; most people will have the 1950s edition, which seems to be expanded. A quick post on haori, circa 1936.

Taking Off Overcoats

"The Japanese overcoat is a cloak-like garment with long wing-sleeves, cape-like in effect, so made to allow the sleeves of the kimono and haori to be placed in them. It is regarded as an extra to ordinary garments, much as a raincoat is regarded- and no Japanese keeps his overcoat on, even when making a business call. It would not show respect were he to do so. Before entering temples, shrines, or homes, overcoats, hats, and in the majority of cases, shoes, are left on the outside porch or steps, and in the genkan (entrance way) of private houses."

Previously: Goze Performers
Next: Ojigi, A Followup

July 6, 2012

Kinyoubi Kimono Challenge 7

Previously, "What you like and dislike about kimono."

7. Kimono confessions. Did you know that…

I bought a shiromuku long ago because I wanted to dress like the Fuji Musume ningyo when I was... 13? 14? It's funny looking back on those scant few memories from then. I felt so old. I still do. And now I look back and think of how young I was... I still have that dress. It was part of my wedding ensemble. I'll have to take photos sometime!

I never did get around to finding another kimono to layer over the shiromuku. My yellow furisode wasn't quite appropriate. One day, maybe I will cosplay her/him (it's a female character played by an onnagata- a male who specializes in female roles). By now, of course, I will be too old. A woman was 'grown' by 16 or so in 'old' Japan, as was the case most of the world over at the time.

The question is: shiromuku and kakeshita today are so thick! Silks from the old days were finer. Kimono of the same type today compared with my antique ones are nearly twice as thick. Thus, how a person could wear an outfit like this and not be incredibly bulky. Also, it looks less bulky on a doll of course, since most of it isn't really there- false layers of fabric and whatnot, and only one layer of obi instead of the double-wrap standard for actual kimono. And of course, where would I get a gold-flecked shiromuku? It's obviously for a prettier effect. Now, where to get a wisteria branch and hat? <3

Next: Your dream kitsuke items (or at least items you really, really want but can't get for whatever reason).

July 5, 2012

Oh, Blogger...

I realized today that a bunch of posts that I'd written ahead of time and scheduled were instead saved as 'Drafts'. This happens with Blogger sometimes. I sometimes also have issues posting anything at all, even when it says something has been posted- I look under tags, keywords, at titles, everything under the day or month number that I can find... the post isn't there. And yet, the page insists that what I wrote was posted! Ack!

Well, that's no good, is it?

I didn't do much on 4th of July. I didn't dress up, and I avoided going anywhere. I did get some groceries, but only because I didn't think ahead and get them the night of the 3rd! Any holiday involving heavy drinking by large numbers of people is something I try to shut myself in for, since I don't want to be on the roads (for obvious reasons). Luckily, it gave me plenty of time to stick around online and begin some research that I'm doing for a book I'm writing. I started last night... spent five hours alone transcribing plant names and scientific names. I didn't even finish the scientific name section for the 450-or-so entries so far! And I have hundreds more to add. Then will come the REAL work.

This means that between usual work, the pagan supply shop, and writing, I might not have much time for blogging as regularly as I did. But I'm seeing a real gap in the market with what I'm working on, so I want to pursue it while I can! <3

Private Collection: Mon Mysteries

Ichiraku and Ichino, courtesy of ~mariko~
A followup to my post on the black haori...

That crest is so distinctive, and after years of looking at kimono as frequently as possible, I know I haven't seen that crest on any 'normal' kimono items. Nor the other mon. So, what was the purpose of putting them on haori? Are there perhaps some private functions not part of their 'normal' jobs that require such a thing? Such as formal classes or something where a haori would be good to wear? Since both are lined, perhaps it's for the winter or fall, when it starts to get chilly.

Both are black with some detail, so they are not mourning clothing (mofuku). Both are very, very soft silk, clearly well-made. I'm not sure which one I like better, but I lean towards the first because it's just soooo soft... and I like the highly-textured weave of the chrysanthemums. Also, I really like the geometric pattern of the second one, and anything with asanoha makes me squee.

It's going to be a long, long while before I can afford to buy more kimono items, unless I can sell the pieces that do not fit me any longer. Then I can think about putting new things into my collection again! (Like maybe some shoes that fit... and some new socks...)

July 2, 2012

Last Day for Seed-Sowing

Today is Hangeshou, meaning "the last day for seed-sowing". After this day, some farmers take a week off in certain regions. I can't blame them. Farming is incredibly tough work! It must be nice for someone to take a week off to rest... but of course, that person will need their strength for cultivation that will come later!

I'm lucky to have my own garden, sort of. Rather, my friends (who have a yard) has a garden, and I just occasionally buy stuff to keep it running. They do all the actual work. I had a garden of my own once, and I loved it! There was a huge black snake that enjoyed hanging out there, too. I rather liked him. He ate the bugs that came for my plants, and otherwise just kind of chilled out nearby when I started digging. I guess it knew I wasn't there to hurt him, and digging always turns up borrowed crawlies for him to snack on. At least, I think it was a 'him'. How do you tell a snake's gender without picking it up? Regardless, very cool snake, and an awesome garden. Lots of peppermint, cacti, basil, catnip, and other good stuff. Fresh peppermint tea every day! And of course, the cats loved the nip.

In two days, it'll be another holiday here in the States... 4th of July. Only in America do we celebrate with poor-quality beer and explosives. For those who don't know, 4th of July in the States is Independence Day, the day we told the Brits that we were all grown up now and we were our OWN country and we weren't going to live with them anymore. >D And about 200 years later, we're still just kids on a global scale. (Do you think it shows?)