8/14 - Best things to do in hot days
It has been getting hotter since the beginning of August. On the night of August 7th, I kept my air conditioner on for 2 hours before I finally fell in sleep. When it is hot, the majority of us are least motivated to work. Perhaps, it's the best time to leave town for vacation, sit around on the beach, eat ice-cream, and watch majestic ocean liners passing by. If you are at home, keep your air conditioner on, read a romance novel, or watch the TV screen lounging with a glass of Ice-wine. What else do you want to do in this season? It's one of the most difficult seasons to be productive.
My Activities in August
For me, August is the only time to work on writing projects, because when I am teaching I can hardly think about anything else. I have been working on a book for nearly two year's and hope to publish it by the beginning of next year. (I told a few people the same thing last summer, but my book isn't published yet. It's kind of embarrassing).
My book is about Japanese Shinto religion and politics. It deals with the politics surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine - a controversial Shinto shrine located in Tokyo. The shrine has been a source of many controversies since World War II, because it enshrines 14 convicted Class-A War Criminals (crimes against peace) as gods and war heroes, who led Japan into a "holy war" and died an honourable death. The primary focus of my work is the comparison of aspects of Shinto, with a particular emphasis on Pre-World War II State Shinto to pop culture, or, to forms, shapes, and physical metaphors for spiritual, social and political realities of the holy war.
I want the focus of my book to provide an informative package to the general public, dealing with the problematic and dangerous spirituality similar to the Yasukuni Shrine. The cause of the Yasukuni Shrine is considered extremist and not likely to be supported by Japan's general public as a symbol of Japanese national identity. Yet, it has a consistent and solid support from the nation's right-wing establishment with economic and political power. At the same time, the cause of Yasukuni is supported by several groups of extreme ultra-nationalists with a linkage to Japanese mafias and criminal syndicates. These "Yakuza" groups have had a silent coercive power toward Japan's general population, because average citizens fear them greatly as untouchables. They can be extremely violent and cruel by nature. In the past some of the yakuza uyoku groups terrorized and assassinated several leaders who belonged to political groups holding left-wing to moderately conservative views.
I spent this month reorganizing the teaching materials for the Japanese language that I have been using during the past six years. I also have obtained copyright clarifications for some materials, should they be necessary. It's quite a tedious task and sitting at a computer all the time during hot summer days is a torment! But thanks to my new Mac Book with 2.4 GH CPU and 250 GB HD space, there has been enough HD space to use the Boot Camp program and install Windows Vista. Vista is sometimes a real headache, because it's extremely slow on many PCs including newer ones. However, (and strangely enough), it works very well on a Mac Book. Because of this, my Mac Book has enough power to do multi-media work, and provide me with very needed mobility. I can take it any place I want, like a coffee shop or the beach, and do my work including editing pictures and multimedia.
Food in Hot Weather
Now, I want to introduce some food that is generally considered good on a hot day. This time, I want to mention eel. For the Japanese, summer is eel-eating season. The high protein content of eels is thought to maintain good health, particularly if eaten in the customary Teriyaki style of Japanese restaurants all over the lower mainland. In Japan, each restaurant has it's own unique eel sauce. The recipe is often that company's top secret. Only owners and their families know it, and they do not even share it with their employees. The sweet flavour of fresh eel is permeated into the sauce when they are soaked in the sauce bottles. The delicacy and depth of the flavour of the sauce increases as they continue soaking. When the bottle is half full, they add new sauce. Some eel restaurants have over 200 years of history, and they have kept on using the same sauce bottle, adding the new portion little by little. These restaurants maintain that they have a 200 year old flavoured eel sauce! They also have a legend that the owners removed these sauce bottles to safety when calamities such as fire or earthquake occured.
The picture underneath is "unagi don" or eel on a bowl of rice I bought in T&T, Fruit Desert, Chinese style Cold Spaghetti and Yakisoba or Japanese Chaw Mein (From upper left). Unfortunately, Hi Genki restaurant does not serve eels during the summer time. They said that they stopped serving it because the quality of the water is compromised in hot weather. It is unfortunate, because their eels were top quality and the price was extremely reasonable.
When I write my next blog entry, I will be in Tokyo or Land of Rising Eel and Soft-shell Turtle, and I plan to upload pictures from there. I will try to find the most exotic food unknown to North America.