Japan #4, Busan/Korea | 부산, Nagasaki | 長崎, Yokohama | 横浜
The second largest city in South Korea, Busan is gateway to a fascinating land whose culture is a unique amalgam of old and new. Known as Korea’s summer capital for its superb beaches and impressive hot springs, Busan is also famous as a guardian of its history. Busan is a microcosm of South Korea, a nation whose startling economic success often obscures one of Asia’s most sophisticated and venerable cultures. Tranquil yet energetic, modern yet traditional, Busan is a city that embraces its past while keeping its eye on the future.
My husband and I are Korean historical TV drama junkies. We were looking forward to going to Busan for its historical events. At the Bokcheon Museum (located where Bokcheon Tombs are) relics and artifacts from the pre-historic era to the Three Kingdom period that spanned from the 1st century B.C. to the 6th century A.D. are displayed. Among the fascinating exhibits are displays of ancient helmets, earthenware and weapons excavated from around Busan and the tombs of the nearby burial ground. We were able to fully comprehend the articles with the images we had seen on TV.
Our ship, Diamond Princess was welcomed elaborately at Nagasaki port by the locals, because the ship was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry in Nagasaki.
For most travelers, Nagasaki is a symbol of the horror and the inhumanity of war. An estimated 75,000 people perished in 1945 when the city became the second target of a nuclear attack. Today, Nagasaki’s Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum draw visitors from around the world. Nonetheless, this beautiful city on Kyushu offers other sights. Often described as the San Francisco of Japan, the city occupies verdant hills surrounded by a deep-water bay. For three centuries, Nagasaki was Japan’s sole window on the world. The city is also celebrated as the setting for Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly.”
Nagasaki is known for castella which is the most favored souvenir. Also, outside Nagasaki is the mountain town where Arita porcelain was born 400 years ago. During their yearly Porcelain Fair, literally thousands of merchants jam the streets, selling exclusive examples.
Shimabara Castle & Samurai Village
Northeast from Nagasaki, passing scenic Ariake Bay en route to the mountainous Shimabara Peninsula is a charming, well preserved, 16th century town featuring a samurai village and a superbly reconstructed feudal castle. Shimabara Castle is situated in the center of this historic old town, and is a superlative example of the classic Japanese castle design known as the Flatland style. Matsukura Shigemasa initiated the construction of Shimabara Castle in 1618 and it took six years to complete. He raised taxes to pay for its construction, which was one of the factors behind the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637-38 (15 min video documentary in two parts, Pt 1, Pt 2). Destroyed once, the present castle is a 1964 reconstruction, although the moat and stone walls are from the original structure. The castle is now used as a historical museum, centering on the 1637 Battle of Shimabara. Exhibits focus on early Christianity in Japan as well as a collection of swords, armor and cultural artifacts.
A walking tour through the charming cobblestone streets of Shimabara is an opportunity to learn more about the historic area, and a visit to a traditional ‘samurai village’ offers a glimpse into the ways of Japan’s warrior class.
Yokohama and Edo (current Tokyo) began life as sleepy fishing villages. That changed in the early 17th century after Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun. Edo became the center of political power in Japan, a position the city retained even after the restoration of Imperial rule in 1866. Today, one of Japan’s major ports, Yokohama is a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area.
As mentioned in Japan #1 of this series, every segment of the cruise was round-trip Yokohama. After 9 days of the first round, we were in Yokohama. We decided to explore the Red Brick Warehouses, historical buildings originally used as customs buildings, but now a complex which includes trinkets and clothing boutiques, restaurants, and event venues.
Matcha, Japanese Green Tea
The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea (chanoyu 茶の湯 , sadō, chadō 茶道), is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, ‘powdered’ green tea.
The Basis of Tea Ceremony
When grinding tea, do it quietly.
Vigilantly with care.
Clean your tea-things frequently.
Like the human heart/mind, they are easily tainted.
Fill the tea dipper with hot water.
Then add the same amount of tap water to it.
Do not waste any of it.
This may have been said by Sen no Rikyū, the historical figure with the most profound influence on sadō, particularly the tradition of wabi-cha. He was also the first to emphasize several key aspects of the ceremony, including rustic simplicity, directness of approach and honesty of self. [Excellent 29 min video on origin, history and production of matcha → here.]
At a tea ceremony, Japanese sweets, wagashi, the essence of Japanese culture, are served. Over a decade of training is necessary to create one of these delicate, magnificent pieces of art. Since I am not qualified, I will take a simpler approach to making a dessert with matcha, an ingredient also used to make green tea ice-cream. Good matcha tea is quite expensive, but not much is needed to make a delicious dessert. Fortunately, I found a reasonably priced packet at a Japanese grocery store.
Matcha Crème Bavaroise | 抹茶ババロア
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 7 g / ¼ oz / 2¼ tsp unflavored, powdered gelatin (or, 2¼ tsp / 4.5 gr agar-agar)
• 5 g / 1¹/³ tsp matcha
• 100 g / ½ cup granulated sugar
• 150 ml / 2/3 cups heavy whipping cream
• 2 egg yolks
• 350 ml / 1½ cups cold whole-milk
• ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
◊ Have ready… six 120 ml / 4 oz (1/2 cup) dessert glasses, molds -or- a 720 ml / 24 oz mold
-or- a 720 ml serving bowl to serve in.
◊ Prepare a big bowl with water and ice and set aside.
◊ In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin powder over ¼ cup of the milk and let bloom for 10 minutes.
◊ In a small bowl, add 1 Tbsp sugar and matcha, whisk well, and set aside.
◊ Place beater’s mixing bowl and whisk attachment(s) in the freezer/refrigerator for 15 minutes. Whip the heavy cream to soft peak. Put in refrigerator until needed.
◊ In a medium-sized bowl, whip the egg yolk with the remainder of the sugar, until pale and foamy.
◊ Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, on high heat, heat milk until very hot, and immediately turn off and remove from heat when it starts boiling.
◊ Making crème anglaise: While vigorously whisking the egg yolks/sugar, pour hot milk in a stream. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Place the saucepan on heat. Stir continuously with silicone spatula until hot, and starts thickening. Do not let it boil. Turn off the heat and remove saucepan from heat.
Note: – Use a silicone spatula to scrape the bowl clean – the bowl will be used again.
. . . . .– Hopefully the saucepan doesn’t have scorched milk at the bottom. If so,use a new saucepan.
◊ Add 3 Tbsp of crème anglaise to matcha/sugar, dissolve very well and add back to the saucepan. Add bloomed gelatin and stir constantly, until gelatin is completely melted. Pour through a fine-mesh, into the bowl (used to whisk the egg yolks) to remove any lumps, and refine the mixture. Place the bowl over the ‘big bowl’ with water & ice, and keep stirring the egg-mixture until cool. Once cooled, add the vanilla.
◊ In several batches, add the whipped cream and fold (don’t leave any white streaks), which is now ready to be poured into the prepared mold(s). After the mold(s) is/are filled, gently tap the mold(s), place on a tray and chill in refrigerator for 4+ hours or until fully set.
◊ To easily unmold, very briefly hold the mold(s) in warm water two-thirds up, take out and rotate to see if the bavarois is loose. Place a serving plate over the mold and invert. If inverting a large mold, first wet the serving platter. This will help center the bavarois after unmolded by shaking the plate and slide in place. Garnish with colorful fruit(s) and serve.
Tip: To smooth any flaws after unmolding, dip a flatware teaspoon in hot water for a few seconds, wipe with paper-towel and use like an iron on the area needing smoothing.
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~
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So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?