Christmas food in Japan can vary from year to year and from family to family. One thing that is quite common all throughout the country, however, is to have a Christmas cake. Perhaps the most common type of cake that the Japanese have for Christmas is the sponge cake. Here is a recipe for a Japanese Christmas cake, courtesy of About.com.
â€¢ For sponge cake:
â€¢ 3/4 cup all purpose flour
â€¢ 2/3 cup sugar
â€¢ 1 Tbsp milk
â€¢ 3 eggs
â€¢ 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
â€¢ For topping:
â€¢ 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
â€¢ 4 Tbsps sugar
â€¢ Various fruits (strawberries, peaches, cherries, and so on)
Whisk eggs in a bowl. Place the bowl over warm water in another large bowl and whisk further. Add sugar little by little. When the egg mixture becomes light yellow, sift flour and add to the bowl. Mix the flour lightly in the egg mixture. Mix butter in warm milk. Add mixture of melted butter and milk in the batter and stir gently. Preheat the oven in 350-degree. Place baking wax papers inside of a round cake pan (18cm). Pour the batter in the pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool it on a rack. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Mix heavy cream and sugar in a bowl. Whip the cream well. Take the half of the whipped cream and mix with chopped fruits. Place the cream on top of a round cake slice. Place another cake slice on top of the cream. Spread the rest of the whipped cream on top and around the cake. Decorate the cake with colorful fruits and Christmas decorations.
Hereâ€™s to a happy Japanese Christmas!
Photo (c) Setsuko Yoshizuka
Posted December 22nd, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
Different cultures in the world have their own version of Santa Claus. There is Father Christmas in the UK. The French have Pere Noel. No matter which way you look at it, though, these Santas basically come from the same idea. In Japan, they have their own Santa too!
Apparently, this is not a well known thing â€“ even to modern day Japanese. I came across this piece of information by chance at the Christmas Archives. This is what I found out:
Santa Claus turned up in Japan in 1875, and the first book of Christmas was published in 1898, was called, ‘SANTAKURO’ and was a book about Santa Claus and for children.
The following account is not directly related to Christmas, but has the similarity with such European Christmas characters as ‘Cramps’ and ‘Knecht Ruprecht’.
“NAMAHAGE” has appeared in the snowy villages every 15th (January?). Namahage visits the houses in the village wearing the mask of a demon and clothes made of straw. He has a box which he rattles and it makes a scary noise. When he visits the houses he says, “Where are your naughty children?”
The children are afraid of him. The people living in the houses have to give him food and drink and entertain him, and then say, “My children are nice” to make him go away.
Also, “SHI-SHI-MAI” and “SHICHI FUKUGIN” come to the houses on New Years Day. This custom is like old Father Christmas in Britain when people believed that a holy traveller visited the villages on the day of the Winter Solstice.
So there you have it, the scary Santa of Japan. He could serve a good purpose these days, donâ€™t you think?
Photo courtesy of shelleycurtis.blogspot.com/
Posted December 10th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comments (3)
Despite the fact that Christmas is based on religious beliefs, it has evolved to become a universal celebration. We all know that Japan is not a largely Christian country although there is a small (but strong) following. Since Christmas is deeply rooted in Christian tradition, have you ever wondered how the Japanese as a nation celebrate this holiday?
Based on the web site Japanese Lifestyle, most of the focus is centered on Christmas Eve and not the day itself. With regard to giving gifts, it is only the children who normally receive gifts from their parents. The reverse is not true due to the idea that people receive gifts from Santa Claus and once a person becomes old enough NOT to believe in Santa, he or she does not receive gifts anymore.
You would enjoy the lights that are to be seen all throughout Japan during this season, though. Establishments and households put up decorations like Christmas trees and lights â€“ much like the people in the West. Another noteworthy point is that in Japan, December is considered to be the month of â€œforget-the-yearâ€ party or bounenkai. This means that there are a lot of parties going on throughout the month. And make no mistake about it â€“ the Japanese love their drink just as much as any other nation in the world. During the Christmas season, then, you should not be surprised to see a tipsy person or two on the streets. One thing is for sure â€“ they celebrate Christmas big time in Japan.
Posted December 6th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comments (3)
For those of you who experienced the Kyoto Winter Special last year, you can do so again this year. After a successful run, the organizers have decided to have a go at it once again but this time, they are offering more and better deals for their visitors. For those who are not aware, the Kyoto Winter Special is akin to a festival â€“ 3 monthsâ€™ worth of cultural activities. This yearâ€™s Winter Special runs from 1 December 2008 to 31 March 2009. Easier.com has this feature:
In addition, special admission will be granted to normally restricted heritage sites, and there will be unique winter events and chances to receive special offers from world-famous hotels. With Kyoto Winter Special, the breathtaking beauty of winter in Kyoto awaits you!
Special Events Kyotoâ€™s cherry blossoms and fall leaves are a sight to see, but Kyotoâ€™s magical winter is something special. There will be various events showcasing winter.
Information on events from December to March are listed by month on the Kyoto Winter Special website. The main event during the Kyoto Winter Special is called â€œHanatoroâ€. This event beautifies Kyotoâ€™s nights, with elegant lanterns lighting up Kyotoâ€™s famous spots. Adding a winter event into a visit to Kyoto is a great way to make your trip that extra bit memorable.
Ask anyone who has been to Kyoto and other Japanese cities and they will probably tell you the same thing â€“ there is nothing like Kyoto if you really want to get a hands on experience of what the Japanese culture is like.
Posted December 3rd, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (0)