Japanese Wine Tasting

January 6, 2010

Japan Society

Tuesday, 12th January 2010

6.00pm to 8.30pm

Embassy of Japan,

101 – 104 Piccadilly



Free for Japan Society members (booking required)

Deadline for bookings: Friday 8th January

Email events@japansociety.org.uk

Were you aware that Japan is a producer of fine wines? The quality of Japanese wines and their popularity in Japan has improved markedly over recent years.

This even brings together the fifteen wine producers who have formed a group called Koshu of Japan (KOJ) in order to ensure the high quality of Koshu wine and to promote the product. This is the first of KOJ’s international events and members will have the chance to taste a selection of wines, discuss them with the producers and sample food from Sake no Hana selected to match the wine.


Film: A Zen life (various)

November 2, 2009
Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki
A ZEN LIFE – D.T. Suzuki” is a 77-minute documentary about Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966) the Japanese lay Buddhist, prolific writer and teacher credited with introducing Zen Buddhism to the West.
With an excellent grasp of English,
Daisetsu Suzuki was highly successful at getting Westerners to appreciate the Japanese mentality, and Japanese to see the merit of Western logic.  He earned widespread respect for his deep insights into Eastern and Western religions and philosophies.  The effect he had on Western psychology, philosophy, religious thinking, and the arts was profound.
A variety of excerpts from Dr. Suzuki’s talks about Zen and Buddhism, Christianity, and psychoanalysis punctuate the film.  Inter-faith dialogue and mutual respect were, in his mind, keys to peace.  Interwoven with film footage, photos and audio recordings of D.T. Suzuki are interviews of many people who knew him, including Huston Smith, Gary Snyder, Robert Aitken, William Theodore de Bary, Donald Richie, Mihoko Okamura, and Dr. Albert Stunkard, with rare historical footage of Fr. Thomas Merton, John Cage, Erich Fromm, and the voice of Christmas Humphreys.
A pioneer in improving East-West relations, his numerous writings in English and Japanese, translated into many languages, serve as an inspiration even today.  Daisetsu Suzuki’s message is all the more important now, in light of contemporary conflicts stemming from divergent ways of thinking.


Monday, 23 November, 6:30 pm
Interfaith Chapel, University of Glasgow, West Quadrangle
Screening followed by Q&A with director
No reservation necessary
For further information about the Glasgow screening,
please contact Joan Keenan, Interfaith Chaplaincy,
on 0141 330 5419 or joan.keenan@admin.gla.ac.uk

Tuesday, 24 November, 5:15 – 7:30 pm (doors open 5 pm)
Arts Lecture Theatre, Lower Ground Floor, Samuel Alexander Building
University of Manchester
Screening followed by Q&A with director
No reservation necessary for the Manchester screening

Thursday, 26 November, 6:30 – 8:30 pm (reception afterward)
Brunei Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Russell Square
University of London
Screening followed by Q&A with director and panel discussion
Please reserve in advance for the SOAS event by contacting
info@azenlife-film.org, ts@soas.ac.uk, or tl3@soas.ac.uk
or call 01442 890882

2 preview clips can be found on YouTube:

Japanese Food: Okonomiyaki Recipe

November 2, 2009

This month’s recipe provided by Atsuko, of Atsuko’s Kitchen, London.


Okonomi means ‘favourite’, as you can choose your favourite toppings to put onto the pancake. ‘Yaki’ means ‘grilled’.

It is a well known regional speciality of the Kansai area, which includes Kyoto and Osaka.  It is a very popular Japanese street food, commonly eaten at festivals as well as restaurants. Here the customers can cook their own okonomiyaki at their table, and eat it straight away from the hot
The ingredients are very simple and one of my friends named it “economy
yaki”… That make sense! But you can always select a good quality
topping if you make at it at home.

Make a small size so that it is easy to turn over, and add a variety of
toppings. Serve it while it is hot, to watch the katsuobushi (bonito
flakes) dancing on the top of okonomiyaki!  This is fun at the party.

400g white cabbage
4 spring onions
4 eggs
For frying:
4 tbsp  vegetable oil
For the mixture:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
300ml dashi (Japanese stock – you can buy powder in Oriental supermarkets)
20g yamaimo (fresh Japanese yam potato available in the Japanese grocery
shop in London)
For toppings:
4 thin sliced pork belly
4 prawns
1 squid (sliced)
200g grated cheese
A cup of sweetcorn
For the sauce:
okonomiyaki sauce
ainori ( green nori powder )
katsuobushi ( bonito flakes )

1. To make the mixture, mix flour and baking powder in a bowl and add
dashi slowly to break any lumps of flour, and blend well. * don’t stir
too much as it will become a doughy texture.
2. Grate yama imo finely ( or use powdered yama imo ) and add to the
mixture. It will be very slimy to touch, but gives it a soft texture.
3. Chop cabbage and spring onion finely.

1. Add the eggs to the cabbage and spring onion in a large bowl, mix
2. Add the pancake mixture to the cabbage mixture then mix gently.
3. Heat the large frying pan with high heat. When hot, spread the pan
with oil. Spoon the mixture into the frying pan.
* make small portions, so it is easy to turn over. Repeat to make about
12 okonomiyaki. (3 per person)
Okonomiyaki 4. Reduce the heat to medium, put your favourite toppings on the surface
of the mixture then wait until the bottom turns brown.
* don’t press down on the okonomiyaki or they will become hard and may
not cook well.
5. Turn the okonomiyaki, and cook for a further 4-6 mins.
6. When the topping is cooked well, turn it over again.
7. Spread the top with okonomiyaki sauce, and mayonnaise, then sprinkle
with katsuobushi and watch it ‘dancing’ in the heat.  Add aonori for extra flavour

Japanese Recipe – kinpira Renkon

August 23, 2009

Thanks to Atsuko’s Kitchen, which specialises in Japanese homestyle cookery classes, for our new monthly Japanese food feature.

Kinpira Renkon

Kinpira Renkon

On a sunny day, why not make a bento (lunch box) and have a picnic in the park.

Kinpira is a style of Japanese dish, using crunchy vegetables and basic Japanese seasonings.  It’s commonly found in bento boxes, as it’s quick and simple to make.

Renkon is also know as lotus root and can be found fresh, vacuum packed, or frozen, from Asian supermarkets (see the directory for a list).  It is full of fibre and vitamin B12, which helps absorb iron.  It’s important not to cook it too long as it ruins the crunchy texture.

You could also make this dish with other types of root vegetables such as parsnips, salad potatoes or celery.


300g renkon (lotus root)

1 carrot

1 age (friend tofu)


1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)

3 tbsp shoyu (dark soy sauce)

1 taka no tsume (chili pepper)

A small pinch of ground sesame seeds


1. Slice the renkon and carrots into thin round slices. *If you use fresh renkon you need to soak it in water and a dash of vinegar for 10 mins then strain it. This will remove any bitter taste and stop it from darkening.

2. Wash the age in boiling water.  Squeeze the excess water from the age and dice.

3. Remove the seeds from the chili and slice as thinly as possible.

4. Heat the frying pan, add the sesame oil.

5. Fry the renkon and carrots.  When the oil has coated all the vegetables, then add the sugar, mirin and 2tbsp of shoyu.  Sprinkle the chili over the ingredients in the pan evenly.

6. Add 1/3 of a cup of water and bring it to the boil.  Cover pan with a lid.

7. Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 4 mins.

8. Take the lid off, add 1tbsp of shoyu and increase the heat until the liquid has evapourated.

9. Finish by serving sprinkled with ground sesame.

10. Serve in a bento box or as a side dish.

More to come next month…