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Showing posts from April, 2014

Hungry Beauty: Dutch Pancake at De Sneeker Pan in Amsterdam

De Sneeker Pan in Amsterdam
I had a Dutch pancake for the first time at De Sneeker Pan in Amsterdam and I immediately became a fun of the Dutch style. There were also very pretty and kind waitresses working at the café. The kitchen counter was nicely organized with fresh baked chocolate cake—I wished that my stomach was slightly larger than now—cookies and pasty. Very cute plates and cups were decorated along with fruits in a bowl. The café welcomed us in a cozy morning moment.


I ordered an apple pancake, of course, Dutch style. When they brought my breakfast, I was really surprised.

I said, “It is so huge!”

The waitress said, “This is Dutch style, enjoy!”

The pancake neatly folded over the plate. It was like a thicker style of crepe with many thin slices of apples and raisins. Apple sweet and sour flavors were matched with additional maple syrup and powdered sugar—later I learned that some local people added brown sugar on the top of the pancake. I enjoyed having the pancake along with g…

#10 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Tenth Poem:

これやこの
行くも帰るも
別れては
知るも知らぬも
逢坂の関
--蝉丸

This is the way
to go east or back to Kyoto;
farewell for a while,
we’ll meet again
here at “Ausaka no Seki.”

Detroit is my airport
to fly in from Nagoya, Japan;
there is a tea cup shop
where a bald guy used to work.
After nine years, he is gone. 

Brilliant Beauty: My Private, Really Private, Silk Factory

Flower Shop in Antwerp, Belgium
One the night a Japanese historical silk factory (Tomioka Silk Factory in Gunma Prefecture) became part of UNESCO, after I took a bath, groomed myself, and screamed—I screamed really hard—my hubby ran into the bathroom. I found a single, silky, white hair in my bikini zone. I knew that I had three gray hairs on my head since my early twenties, but I have never expected to find it in my private area.   

My hubby laughed and said (quoting from his favorite show, ‘The League’), “You got ‘ol smoke crotch!”

The bright white color was sticking out from my black hair like, “Hello! You are officially old!” I grabbed my tweezers and pulled it out. Instead of observing the hair, I flushed it down the toilet. In the following days, checking unborn silky hairs became my routine; and then I found another half black-half gray hair hiding in the underbrush. I was seriously depressed holding the beautiful hybrid hair.

So, I read online articles on how to prevent getting gr…

Been There! Tin Tin Museum, Belgium

Surprised? Today's story about Tin Tin Museum in Belgium is written in Japanese. 

Tin Tin Museum, Belgium
小学生の頃、”タンタンの冒険”をNHK衛星アニメ劇場で毎週とても楽しみにしていた。オープニングテーマが始まると(私もタンタンと一緒に橋から飛び降りている気持ちになって)原作者エルジェの世界に引き込まれ、母親にご飯を呼ばれても、聞こえないくらいテレビの画面に集中していた。アニメシリーズが最終回を迎えると、原作の本を丸善の外国語書籍売り場で買ってもらった。ハドック船長が私の英語の先生でもあった。今でも、お気に入りのぬいぐるみをミルー(フランス語でスノーウィー)と名づけている。

エルジェみたいに、漫画よりも映画みたいなカートゥーンが描きたくて、”ナオナオの冒険”と真似して落書きしてみたり、小さい頃の授業中は、いつもタンタンのテーマソングが流れていた。シンプルな絵でも躍動感があるエルジェの絵にあこがれて、スノーウィーを描く練習もした。何よりも、ビーカー教授がサメの潜水艦を発明したり、月旅行の先で、デュポン、デュボン刑事の髪の毛が突然カラフルに長くなったりする、奇想天外なストーリーが大好きだった。


エルジェの故郷がベルギーということを知ってから、私も、いつかベルギーへ旅行して、タンタンミュージアムへ行くぞと決めて、ついに夢がかなった。(ベルギーの入国審査で12歳の頃からの夢だったんだよと言ったら、とても喜んでウエルカムしてくれた。)

タンタンミュージアムはベルギー中央駅から電車に乗って約50分くらいにある。インターネットで電車を予約したり、週末券を購入すると、電車賃はとても節約できる。窓から見える景色は、のどかで、閑静な住宅街や素敵なお庭が見えた。車掌さんも親切で、電車内の治安は特に悪くない。Louvain-la-Neuve駅のキャンパスシティーで下車をすると、周りには、おどろくほど本当に何もなく、乗客もまだらだ。

入り口が工事中で、一見、休館中のように見えるタンタンミュージアムだったが、細い入り口から中に入ると、まるでタンタンのアートに紛れ込んだような気持ちになれる。荷物とカメラを預けて、案内係の人からアイポッドとイヤフォンをもらい、美術館をまわる。館内ではカメラビデ…

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #9

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Ninth Poem: 

花の色は
うつりにけりな
いたづらに
わが身よにふる
ながめせしまに
--小野小町

Cold spring rain falls onto
cherry blossoms; fading
their color slowly over time
just like my beauty
while I think of you.
--Onono Komachi
--Translated  by Naoko Fujimoto

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Onono Komachi

You are pieces of
dried skin and bones
under the graveyard,
but your poem is still
like a grayish pink spring day.   

Hungry Beauty – a Pizza-Ninja at La Place in Amsterdam

La Place in Amsterdam 
“How would you like to cook salmon?”
“Could you grill it until the surface becomes golden and crispy, but juicy inside with sautéd spinach?” I asked. I am picky about fish.
“Do you need potatoes for a side?” the chef asked.
“Yes. Could you add salt and rosemary?”

At La Place in Amsterdam, Netherlands, I could enjoy a restraint quality meal in a more casual environment (attached to a shopping mall). After my hubby chose a cute Miffy’s shirt for my nephew at the mall, we decided to have dinner.

I also made my own salad. I selected a plate from small, medium, and large sizes, which dictated the salad’s price. Some people put everything (cooked carrots, ham, organic carrots in vinegar, broccoli, cus-cus, raw carrots, etc) in the smallest plate and pay the minimum price. Maybe it’s about cost efficiency, but I wonder if their taste buds work that way. And they do not always finish whatever they placed in their plates (and toss it away!). I preferred nicely selecting side d…

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #8

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English.

The Eighth Poem:

わが庵は
都のたつみ
しかぞすむ
世をうぢ山と
人はいふなり
--喜撰法師

My house,
South East of magnificent Kyoto,
a relaxing, rural life,
but people call me “Ujiyama;”
hiding from this world.
--Kisen Houshi
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto 

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Kisen Houshi

Nowadays,
it doesn’t matter where you live,
I just need a finger
to read your poem
in a nameless city by daffodil fields.

Brilliant Beauty – Simply Relaxed Morning at Hotel Egmond in Bruges

The Hotel Egmond in Bruges, Belgium

How important to feel finally refreshed after I slept on clean sheets and had a breakfast at the Hotel Egmond. The hotel is located close to Begijnhof (buildings used by Beguines) in Bruges, Belgium. Before I entered the hotel property, I saw a romantic small lake known as ‘Love Lake’.
At the moment, my hubby and I were not yet romantic when we got lost in Bruges with many one way streets (mostly under construction). We drove through the tiny historical district three times screaming, “Why can’t the GPS find the hotel?!”

We drove through the beautiful Begijnhof streets without knowing which places were historically protected areas (yeah, we drove through a wildlife reserve, even though other employee cars were parked alongside the road). At some point I screamed, “Watch out for the person!”, “too narrow street!”, or “One way again!” My hubby drove backwards several blocks when necessary.

The hotel owner waited for us for almost two hours after our esti…

Lunch with Cupmen

Cupmen
My three little cousins gave me "Cupmen," which is designed by Akira Mabuchi. The orange man holds a lid of a cup of noodles. He always supports me for a lazy lunch.


H-Concept 

3-24-8 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku
Tokyo, Japan



Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #7

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Seventh Poem:

天の原
ふりさけ見れば
春日なる
三笠の山に
出でし月かも
--安部仲麿
--Abeno Nakamaro

In the night sky,
looking up to find
the moon, 
is it the same one 
over Mt. Mikasa in Kasuga, my home?

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Abeno Nakamaro

Interstellar light 
travels thousands of years to the Earth;
when it was born,
you were missing home;
finally here, in my foreign sky.


**Note: Abeno Nakamaro was an exchange scholar about 700A.C. He went to China to study poetry and politics; however, he could not come back to Japan. 

Hungry Beauty – Le Point de Chute in Brussels, Belgium

Le Point de Chute, Brussels
Thanks to Google map, I could identify an organic café in Brussels, Le Point de Chute. I will explain why I forgot to take a picture of the café. The café was located right under the Palais de Justice (Law Courts of Brussels) by the glass elevator. It is also on the way to the antique market, the Place du Jeu de Balle.

The café serves organic food and fruit drinks. I really enjoyed having croissant-like pretzel sandwich and berry smoothies. The chef and waitress were very nice along with their friendly cat by the windows. 

But we did not realize the menu stated remember is “NO CREDIT CARDS” in the biggest and loudest impression at the bottom of the first page as we were too entranced by the awesomeness of their breakfast selection. 

“The total is forty seven Euro,” said a pretty waitress. 
My hubby gave her our credit card.
“I am sorry, cash only, please,” she responded.

My hubby and I were frozen because we had only thirty Euro.

So, my hubby ran out to find an ATM…

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #6

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Sixth Poem:

かささぎの
渡せる橋に
おく霜の
白きを見れば 
夜ぞ更けにける
--中納言家持

A magpie crossing the galaxy
like an ancient story of the bridge,
frost covers it;
deeply white,
time passes after midnight.
--Chunagon Yakamochi
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto


返歌
A poem written in response from me to Chunagon Yakamochi

My toe is frost bitten,
foot prints left on the hill
when I cross the bridge 
to your warm room,
don’t let the lamp go out.

**Note: Chunagon Yakamochi referenced an ancient love story in China in his poem. A woman and man could meet once a year over the Milky Way on July 7th. 

Brilliant Beauty – “How Much?” at Place du Jeu de Balle

The Place du Jeu de balle in Brussels, Belgium
“HOW MUCH?” I asked an old man with the loudest and slowest tone I could manage.
My hubby was whispering that I should have respectfully asked in French and he repeated, “How much” in French (c’est combien).

The old man showed two fingers, so I assumed that it was two Euros.

My hubby and I visited the Place du Jeu de balle in Brussels to find our cat’s water bowl. The place is a publically known antique market place– just like a huge garage sale without a ceiling – and we found buckets after buckets of junk called antiques.


There were buckets of typewriters’ keys, metal handles, tea cups & plates, rings, some paints, old maps (and I mean old), family photos…surprisingly I could find everything that I could think of, we just couldn’t think of what would compel someone to buy personal family photos of a stranger’s family. We could not, however, find a perfect water bowl for our cat. Our princess cat is very picky, especially about china.



The …

Saturday Announcement

Thank you very much for posting my blog! Bistro Maurice has a Facebook page.

Kusa-Kusa White Hyacinths

White Hyacinths with My Art
Bulbs from the Chicago Botanical Garden are blooming so well! I got them when I went to the Orchid Show. (They are super stinky, though...)

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #5

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Fifth Poem

奥山に
紅葉ふみわけ
鳴く鹿の
声聞くときぞ
秋はかなしき
--猿丸大夫

I hear from the deepest forest,
deer steps on red maple leaves, 
and cries;
cries,
I feel the autumn.
--Sarumaru Daiyuu
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Sarumaru Daiyuu

The autumn is not so lonely,
for the longest night,
I write a letter
remembering my first trip to Kyoto,
picking up maple leaves with my mother.

Food – Waal Kootwijkerbroek, the Netherlands

 "Waal"
On the way to the Kröller-Müller Museum while my hubby was driving, I found two bakeries where I would have loved to stop by. After visiting the museum, my hubby and I ‘accidently’ passed by one of them. It was a random opportunity for trying new pastry.

Inside, a woman greeted us and started preparing my tea. The bakery and the person reminded me of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki’s movie, “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” And loafs of bread were lined on the walls. There were many colorful chocolates for Easter celebrations—chocolates shaped like little birds and flowers were deliciously decorated in a case. Since my hubby was still recovering from Brussels’ water, I ordered a croissant, caramel, a walnut cookie, and an almond cookie. He just had an apple turnover.

The best apple turnover I ever had!

It was shaped like a triangle, and inside the apple was not too sweet, and had a little sour flavor. I tried apple flavored meals in the Netherlands—even the hotel had complementary a…

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #4

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The fourth Poem:

田子の浦に
うち出でて見れば
白妙の
富士の高嶺に
雪は降りつつ
--山部赤人

On the Tago,
I walk by the seashore.
On the highest,
whitest edge of Mt. Fuji,
it’s still snowing.
--Yamabeno Akahito
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto 

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Yamabeno Akahito

The cold sea water soaks
your tabi-socks,
shells still sleep 
under the sand, 
spring is not yet coming.

Brilliant Beauty – Meeting Windmill Masters and Walking at Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk
I drive forty minutes to work. I sit down in front of two computer screens from eight to five. My office exercises are to get coffee, go to bathroom, and laugh with coworkers. I try to walk during lunch time; however, it is difficult to devote a good amount of time to exercise. My energy is super low after work on the couch with chocolate cookies.


I wish that my neighborhood is an exciting place to walk like Kinderdijk!

Kinderdijk is a village in the Netherlands and protected by UNESCO World Heritage. There are nineteen authentic windmills. Visit their home page:


I gasped when I saw the windmills between small houses. I was really surprised and moved by the scenery. Nineteen big windmills randomly stood along small river banks. They stood like great god-like figures—now I really understand why Don Quixote was crazily attached to the windmills in Spain—On the day we visited, the main park office was closed, so my hubby found a perfect parking spot and we decided to walk around.


A…

Dining Table Gardening - Kaiware-Daikon Planter

I found a kaiware-daikon planter in Amsterdam that goes perfect on our table. The second harvest has almost arrived.Dille & Kamilleis a popular kitchen store in Brussels and Amsterdam.

Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) #3

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English.

The Third Poem:

あしびきの
山鳥の尾の
しだり尾の
ながながし夜を
ひとりかも寝む
--柿本人麻呂

Pheasant tails are
often so long;
dragging
like endless nights
sleeping by myself.
--Hitomaro Kakinomoto
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Hitomaro Kakinomoto

I did not know
a male pheasant sleeps
miles away from his wife,
thinking of
how soft her tail is.


***
Back Issue:
#1) Emperor Tenchi 

Food – Bonsoir Clara Brussels, Belgium

Bonsoir Clara Brussels, Belgium
The receptionist at the Hilton in Brussels recommended Bonsoir Clara as a good place to dine on our first night in Belgium. She drew us directions and stated, “It is close to St. Catherine’s, you cannot miss it.” She called the restaurant for us and made a reservation (in French) for 7:00PM.

A lot of dinner restaurants in Belgium open at 7:00PM. Around Grand Place (a public square surrounded by amazing historical buildings) or famous sightseeing spots, restaurants and cafes are open all the time. However, small, local restaurants are not open all day. Even for lunch, they rarely open before noon. Those shops, cafes, and restaurants gradually open, but always close at 6:00PM sharp.  

My hubby and I are quick to get lost, so we decided to find our reserved restaurant at 5:00PM before exploring the area. We walked around a large church and crossed many streets on our way there; but of course, we got, as my hubby calls it, ‘temporarily misguided’. We were so…