Monthly Archive October 2011

ByRay Proper
Oct 23, 2011

Making Gyudon at Home!

Live in a Japan for any longer than about a day and you will run smack into Yoshinoya, or some other variety of gyudon, probably best described as simmered beef served on top of steamed rice. Ifyou discount Curry Rice, it is probably the most popular fast food in Japan. I pretty much guarantee that if you make it at home it will be better, and it’s really not that hard.

4 servings


  • 4 cups steamed rice
  • 1 lb thin sliced beef, cut to 2 inches
  • 1 onion, thin sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup dashi (fish stock) soup
  • 5 Tbsp soy sauce
  •  3 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sake
  • Benishoga, pickled red ginger, *optional- this is a topping

Put dashi, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sake in a large pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Add onion slices and simmer for a few minutes or until softened. Add beef in the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot steamed rice into individual deep rice bowls. Put simmered beef on top of the rice. Top with some benishoga if you would like.

Good luck, and happy dining!

ByRay Proper
Oct 17, 2011

Japan’s Largest Freshwater Aquarium – Aquatotto Gifu

Water Eco Park is Japan’s largest freshwater aquarium. The aquarium is a part of the Kiso River Water Park in Gifu, roughly a 40 minute drive north east of Nagoya. The Kiso River Water Park offers the opportunity to feel “real” nature. Admission is free to the park itself, and there are lots of things to see and do within it. Between the park and the aquarium you and your family could spend the entire day there!

The aquarium itself celebrates and compares the nature of Japan’s freshwater river ecosystems with other systems like the Mekong, Congo, and Amazon rivers. Through educational and interactive exhibits the aquarium help visitors explore relationships between people and the rivers. The aquarium boasts a large collection of animals that live in or near the Nagara River, one of three big rivers that cross the Nobi Plain here in the Tokai Region, Mekong, Congo, Amazon Rivers, and Lake Tanganyika. Some interesting things to see; the Giant Mekong Catfish, and an electric eel that became famous in Christmas of 2007 for lighting up a Christmas tree.

Read More 

Here is a video of the seal show; I thought seals were salt water animals!

Aquatotto Gifu
TEL 05-8689-8200

Directions – By public transport

  1. From Gifu Station, get on a city bus bound for Kawashima Matsukura 川島松倉.
  2. Get off at the KawashimaKasada川島笠田stop.
  3. The park is a 15 minute walk from that stop.

ByRay Proper
Oct 07, 2011

Yakitori – Grilled Chicken on a Stick. It’s good!

Yakitori in a nutshell: kill chicken, put on stick, grill over fire, and eat. The world at large suffers a serious lack of meat on a stick options, but Japan is a glorious exception to this rule. Here, you can get basically anything on a stick. Once while viewing the fall colors at Korankei, near Toyota City, I ate grilled sparrow. How could I say no to that? It was tasty. As expected.

Yakitori, literally translates as grilled chicken, and belongs to the family of Japanese foods called kushiyaki (串焼き), which simply means skewer grilled. It sounds simple, but a great chef with quality ingredients and seasonings can make it taste like a whole lot more.

More specifically, yakitori consists of between 3 and 10 small pieces of chicken (beef, pork, etc) meat or innards (properly, ofal) skewered on a bamboo stick, seasoned, and grilled; generally over charcoal. You will find most dishes offered in either salt or tare flavor. They will probably ask which you prefer when you order. Salt, or shio (塩-しお-シオ), is simply salted at grilling, but tare (たれ-タレ) is a sauce usually made with mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar- although really, how many Japanese foods are NOT made with those ingredients? Variety people; look into it! The tare is brushed on before and during grilling. Some places have set menus and do not offer a choice of flavors, but most do.

Yakitori (焼き鳥 -やきとり -ヤキトリ) can be written in pretty much any of the Japanese scripts, though in kanji seems to be the most common. Keep an eye out for a lantern thing with some of the script above on it and you will be golden for your meat on a stick fix. Here are some common varieties of yakitori that are readily available.

• toriniku, white meat, usually breast meat
• tebasaki (手羽先), are chicken wings (remember that dance?)
• tsukune (つくね), are chicken meatballs (I am keen on these)
• (tori)kawa ((とり)かわ)is chicken skin, grilled crispy ( love this with salt)
• negima (ねぎま) are pieces of chicken alternating with pieces of green onion (ネギ)
• bonjiri (ぼんじり), are chicken tails (love these too)
• nankotsu (なんこつ), are chicken cartilage (interesting, this one)
• rebā (レバー), is liver (these are best just a bit raw in the middle!)
• hatsu (ハツ) or kokoro (こころ), are chicken hearts
• sunagimo (砂肝), or zuri (ずり) are chicken gizzards
• shiro (シロ), are a chicken’s small intestines (don’t think, just eat it!)

For a list of good places in Nagoya to try some yakitori, see the full text of this article at If you have questions about Japan why not ask at @japaninfoswap, or post on the wall at facebook/japaninfoswap

How To Make Chicken Yakitori — Video Recipe: Make delicious yakitori skewers.