Experimenting with their feminine side

Yesterday was Culture Day in Japan: a day to do something cultural or artisitc. What did you do?

According to this article from Teen Vogue, the students at Komaba Boys’ High School put on a beauty pageant every year on Culture Day, where they are the contestants. No girls in sight.

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The article calls it ‘refreshingly devoid of judgement’ (a paraphrase). What do you think?

Crazy food

Takoyaki (たこ焼き) is one of everyone’s favorite street foods in Japan. I’ve heard people translate it as “octopus balls” but that just sounds crazy … and pretty unappetizing. Really, they’re small, round savory pancake-like snacks made from a batter, small pieces of octopus, and usually slices of pickled ginger, topped with a savory sauce, sometimes mayonnaise, and finally ao-nori (青のり, dried seaweed flakes) and katsuobushi (かつお節, dried bonito flakes).

Not so crazy after all, right?

How about some of these “crazy” state fair foods from the U.S.? (State fairs are similar in some ways to Japanese festivals — the prevalence of street food is one.). There’s no shortage of round snacks:

Sriracha balls  and Nacho balls from the Minnesota State Fair and from USA Today:

“Hot tail” (roasted pig tail), also from the Minnesota State Fair:


Corn in a cup (from USA Today): “a pile of sweet corn cut right off the cob, then mixed with chorizo sausage, chayote cheese, lime juice, mayo, butter and a mix of spices the fair calls “magic dust.”  Wow. Magic dust.


Bacon-wrapped corn-on-the-cob (from the California State Fair):

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Bacon-wrapped, deep-fried peanut butter cups (Oregon State Fair)

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As you can see, people in the U.S. do seem to like bacon. But it’s not very healthy, so here is a crazy alternative: “OSU researchers discover the unicorn – seaweed that tastes like bacon!”

Something to drink? How about drinking fruit from a fruit?

1435846783-12-ridiculous-foods-state-fairs-across-america-1What’s the craziest street food or festival food you’ve eaten? Which summer festivals are you going to this year?

Wishing on a star

tanabataIt’s Tanabata again. What will you wish for this year?

Here are some things to get you thinking, listening, reading, writing and speaking today:

An explanation of Tanabata in English from Kids Web Japan

A video in Japanese with English subtitles explaining Tanabata:

Last year’s Tanabata post and 2013’s.

And now for some music — “Wishing on a star” in four versions:

The original song from the 70s, by Rose Royce:

Beyonce’s version from 2004:

And in between the two, Jay-Z’s 1998 rap version, which has the singer from the original (and a bit of swearing):

Finally, the most recent cover that I know about, from Seal in 2011. This one seems the most ethereal and maybe the best fit for the story. Which version do you like best?

Goat, ram or sheep?

2015 is the Year of the … Goat? Ram? Sheep?

In Hong Kong, the Beijing-supported political leader is getting a lot of flak for telling citizens to behave like sheep (“mild and gentle” he says, but what he means is obedient and docile). And depending on the country, this year’s Chinese zodiac sign is called sheep, goat or ram.

In Japanese, it’s easier to distinguish. Sheep 羊, Goat 山羊, Ram 雄羊. But when you say the word “ram,” some people in Japan might think you’re saying “lamb” (子羊) because the pronunciation in Japanese (ラム) is the same. (But then so is rum (ラム酒). Japanese is hard!

Regardless, it’s a good time to learn a little more about Chinese New Year. Here’s a collection of TED-Ed videos to learn about fireworks, dragons, the color red and the moon (because it’s the lunar new year). This one, “How to defeat dragons with math” is cute:

After using your brain so much, you need some food. Here is a collection of recipes for different ways to eat dumplings.