Setsubun

           February, 3rd is the day that we celebrate Setubun by doing Mame-maki in Japan; throwing beans outside front door of your house and from the windows saying “oni-wa-soto”, which means “the demon is outside”.  Families then close the door right after they throw the beans so that the demons do not come back in and they start throwing beans inside the house while saying “fuku-wa-uchi”, which means “luck is inside”.

People in the past had believed that the beginning of a season was the easiest time for a demon to sneak into the house and cause problems.  So, Setubun was originally celebrated on the eve of every season.  It has turned to represent only the eve of spring since it’s the most important season after a New Year.

The types of beans that are thrown are soybeans.  The Japanese believed that soybeans carried good spirits within them, which fight off the demons.  Rice is also believed to have good spirits in them, however, since soy beans are bigger they are better suited to warding off demons.  Also the Japanese way of saying ‘bean’ is ‘mame’ which is similar to how the Japanese say ‘dispel demon’, “ma wo mesuru”.

onisan

Demons represent bad luck which causes disaster, disease and poverty.  The place they live is kimon, which is the direction of cow and tiger according to the zodiac.  Because of this, they have cow horns, tiger teeth and wear tiger patterned pants.

Beans need to be fried before they are thrown and those fried beans are called fuku-mame (it’s literally fortune beans in Japanese) it should be put in front of a shrine or kamidana to be ready for the day of Setubun.  People who don’t have kamidana at their house might put them on a high place like the top of shelves/drawers with a white sheet of paper underneath.  After Mame-maki, we eat the beans (the number of your age plus one) wishing us luck for a new year.  Eating beans are also believed to get good fortune by getting power against disease.

New culture

Instead of doing Mame-maki, the new way that has been spread out Japan now is Ehou-maki.  Ehou-Maki is a long roll sushi with seven ingredients inside, associated with 7 good fortune gods.  In order not to miss any good fortune, the roll cannot cut with a knife.

This sushi is named after the way to eat. 1) Look at Ehou, the direction of the year (East-northeast in 2014),  2) Start eating with one big bite first while making a wish  3) Keep eating without saying anything until finished.

          This custom started as a local custom in some Japanese towns to celebrate Setubun, yet it’s been gradually gaining popularity over the years. The reason does not only because it’s fun but also because there’s no need to clean up like Mamemaki, where you have to pick up all of the beans in and outside the house. Many housewives prefer Eho-maki better since they can replace it as dinner dishes.

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Crepes!

Crepes!

What do you do on a snow day after a long day of sledding? It’s a family crepe party! We’re still working on our plating… But the crepe will be wrapped and then really, how it tastes is the only thing that counts! Strawberries, bananas, nutella, and sour cream mixed with a little sugar on top of crepes hot off the pan. That’s good stuff. Looking for more crepe filling recipes!

Post-Thanksgiving Post

It’s been a while since we posted anything on our blog!

The old saying about the cobbler’s children having no shoes is how I would describe our dishes at home.  We basically had the most mismatched group of bowls and plates one can imagine.  Why?  Because we bring home the samples, the leftover items from broken sets and the discontinued pieces that have been sitting around for years.  When Bob and I got married, I wanted to register for china but apparently, that would have been akin to Mr. Toyota buying a Mini Cooper to tool around town.

So for Thanksgiving, we decided to bring home some actual pieces that were not discontinued or mismatched so that we can show them off!  We spend so much time figuring out which pieces we want to add to our product lines, imagining what would go well in them and how great they would look together.   But then, we don’t really get to appreciate them until we’ve discontinued them and taken some pieces home.

So here are some of our current products being utilized in real life….

IMG_3842Our 9-year old daughter’s Deviled Eggs that she put on one of our Omakase spoons.   Not perfect but she’s 9!  Master Chef Junior, here she comes!

 

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Brie En Croute with raspberries on a Sendan Tokusa plate.  As you can see, I have not mastered the art of plating beautifully!

 

IMG_3845Cranberry Sauce still steaming in our Blue Post 5.25″ Bowl.

 

IMG_3847Some more Omakase items – Large White Serving Bowls.  (The Kimbap is from my mom –  in her own foil tray.  Apparently, she did not get the memo about using a Miya piece!  I mean, thank you Mom!)

 

IMG_3849Another shot of the Blue Post bowl and also the Sendan Tokusa serving bowl holding  Sweet Potato Mash (paleo style!)

Of course, we meant to take more pictures or our plates and bowls but it’s hard to keep a hungry bunch waiting while we try to line up the dishes and find the right lighting.  Luckily, there are a couple more holidays coming up where we stuff ourselves like there’s no tomorrow to show off some other pieces.

We hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday feast too.  Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Bento!https://miyacompany.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/bento1.jpg

It seems that bento boxes for lunch are becoming more and more popular these days.  I personally use bento boxes for my kids’ lunches because I love that they are not throwing away plastic sandwich bags or extra packaging that would just be adding to all the garbage piling up in the world.

But what to put in bento box lunches?  I asked Yoko and Mike in our office to make a bento lunch and take pictures for us.

Yoko made Pasta Alfredo and a side of potatoes.  Yum!

BENTO2    BENTO4

 

Mike (or actually, his lovely wife, Linda) made this – looks like some rice with mentaiko, tamagoyaki, some mushrooms and an onigiri on the side!

Nice job Yoko and Linda!

I’m going to work on mine and see if I make it as nice as theirs!  Mine usually consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Very boring.  The saddest part is that I even have this lovely Just Bento Cookbook by Makiko Itoh at home!  I’m going to look through this book and get back to you!

BK1022You can also find Makiko Itoh’s blog at Just Hungry

If you’re looking for other Japanese recipes, you should also check out:

No Recipes

J Simple Recipes

and if you’re looking for bento recipes for kids:

Happy Little Bento

 

What is your favorite thing to make for a bento lunch?

Tanabata – July 7th

Did you pay attention to stars last night? If not, you missed out on the most romantic night sky of the year.

July 7th in Japan is called Tanabata (七夕).  This is the one night that you can see the two beautiful and bright stars, Vega and Altair, with the Milky Way as a backdrop. This legend originated from China and spread to Japan in the early Nara era.

Can you find two bright starts across the Milky Way?
image 1
Can you find two bright starts across the Milky Way?

According to this legend, Orihime was the beautiful daughter of Tentai, the Sky King, and she dedicated every day to weave beautiful clothes for her father. As Tentai contemplated about his precious daughter’s future, he found a famous farmer in another village located on the other side of the Amanogawa River that be believed would be suitable as Orihime’s future husband. They fell in love with each other right after her father’s arrangement, but they stopped working hard like they used to as soon as they got married. After seeing the two of them slowly become less and less responsible, Tentai finally decided to separate them by putting them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa River and allowed them to meet only once a year on July 7th.

Amanogawa, is what the Japanese call the Milky Way and Orihime and Hikoboshi are represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively in this legend. According to the story, if it rains on this day, these two lovers have to wait another year before they can meet.

tanzaku
image 2
a girl hanging tanzaku on bamboo leaves.

In Japan, there are many local festivals to celebrate these lovers meeting once a year. Many schools also offer events for the students by giving them time to write down a wish on a piece of paper called Tanzaku and hang it on bamboo leaves in hopes that their wishes would come true.

Tanabata Festival
image 3
Tanabata Festival

You cannot help to look up other people’s wishes on bamboo leaves because there is a wide variety of wishes…from cute and funny to sad wishes:

image 4 "wish Orihime and Hicoboshi could meet tonight."
image 4
“wish Orihime and Hicoboshi could meet tonight.”
image 5 "please give me big boos."
image 5
“please give me big boos.”
image 6 "wish my dad would break up with that bad woman soon."
image 6
“wish my dad would break up with the bad woman soon.”

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Image Sources:

1. http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/pi_hyarara2003/15577320.html

2. http://www.city.daito.lg.jp/photonews/1279609153474.html

3. http://duarcain.blogspot.com/2012/05/tanzaku.html

4. http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/aroamtic/9828772.html

5. http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/2ndorijin/diary/200807060000/

6. http://ameblo.jp/shikao-blog/entry2-10587054166.html

CPR AED Training for the Staff at Miya

Our fearless leader, Bob, had a pretty frightening experience a couple of weeks back.  He regularly plays basketball at an open gym in our town with other guys in the neighborhood.  It was business as usual a couple of weeks ago when one of the guys collapsed just five minutes into a game.

Most of the guys didn’t know what to do.  They pulled out their phones to call 911 but this guy needed help.  He wasn’t breathing.

Luckily, one of Bob’s friends knew CPR.  He quickly grabbed the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and got to work.  He administered CPR for 15 minutes until the paramedics came.  Bob felt helpless while this was happening but he was impressed with his friend’s quick thinking and action.  The paramedics thought that Bob’s friend saved this guy’s life.

So when we decided that we would put Health and Wellness as one of our company’s core values, Bob called his friend, Bob Stickel, at LifeSavers Inc.  LifeSavers is a training center with classes in CPR, Defibrillation, and First Aid.   Because health and wellness becomes rather useless if you’re dead.

They sent one of their wonderful trainers, Maryann, to our office and we all participated in a CPR AED training session.  Now we are all certified to administer CPR.  And we have an AED in our office just in case.  Knock on wood that we never need to but we should all be ready if we do.

Thank you LifeSavers!

cpr