As well as a Japanese culture blog, Shizuka Ryokan publishes a newsletter four times per year. The latest newsletter was published on winter solstice, an auspicious day in Japan. On the shortest day of the year people in Japan take yuzu baths and eat pumpkin for good luck. You can read the latest newsletter here. And if you like what you see, please subscribe. The Spring Equinox is just around the corner!
Archive for month: June, 2019
Thursday 24th – Sunday 27th October 2019
Shizuka Ryokan will be rife with creativity and sustainability this October when Prue Simmons returns to teach a three-day SAORI workshop. SAORI is a type of Japanese weaving.
Prue Simmons is the founder of the Dyeing to Weave Studio, and is one of just three SAORI teachers in Australia. She was taught traditional Japanese weaving and natural dye techniques by Toyomi Harada in the mountains on Honshu, Japan.
Prue is interested in sustainability, natural dyes, up-cycling and environmentally friendly textiles. Prue and her partner run White Stone Farm in Central Victoria. On the farm they raise llamas and use their fleece to weave beautiful pieces.
To learn more about SAORI you can read the blog post on Shizuka Ryokan’s Japanese culture blog.
Please note: The October 2019 SAORI workshop has SOLD OUT. Please contact Shizuka Ryokan if you are interested in attending the next SAORI workshop: Thursday 20th February – Sunday 23rd February 2020
Alternatively, tickets are still available for the Sashiko & Boro workshop, taught by Leanne from Kimono House. This workshop is scheduled for early 2020.
Another traditional Japanese recipe from the Shizuka Ryokan kitchen.
scallop shells, for serving
1 tsp brown sugar
3 tsp organic soy sauce
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp drinking sake
2 tsp yuzu juice
10g fine quality butter (Danish)
wakame seaweed for garnish
Pour boiling water on wakame and set aside.
In a small jug, mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, mirin, sake and yuzu juice. Set aside.
Heat frypan until hot. Add butter.
Sear scallops for approximately 1 minute on first side, turn scallop, fry for 30 seconds. Pour sauce from jug into pan. After 30 seconds, remove scallops from pan and set aside.
Stir sauce until it thickens.
To serve: Place scallop shell on a plate of pebbles. Put one scallop in each scallop shell on a bed of wakame. Spoon 1 tsp of sauce over each scallop.
Vegan variation: Replace butter with Nutelex and scallops with the stems of king oyster mushrooms. Example in the recipe photograph at the rear.
Now is the perfect time to book a 2020 trip to Japan. Australia’s autumn corresponds with Japan’s spring. Spring is the most popular time of year for people to visit Japan, so be sure to book your flights and accommodation well in advance. (Golden Week is a national holiday in Japan that will run from April 29 to May 5 in 2020. This is a peak time for travel in Japan and may drive up hotel rates.)
In Japan, spring is sakura—cherry blossom—season. The blossoms start to flower in the south in Okinawa, and the blossom season travels northward. The cherry blossom season only lasts for a few weeks, but spring typically lasts from March to June.
The sakura, or cherry blossom, is revered in Japan for its beauty and transience. Hanami is the spring tradition of admiring blossoms—usually cherry, and less frequently, plum. People in Japan take blankets to the park and hold blossom viewing parties while drinking sake. You can download apps to track the elusive blossoms.
Japanese cuisine takes its cues from the seasons. Spring menus feature takenoko—bamboo shoots, sansai—mountain vegetables such as warabi—fiddlehead fern. Asparagus, spring onions, mizuna and sato-nishiki—a prized type of cherry—are available in spring.
May is the beginning of matsuri—the festival season. Temples take their kami—gods—out on mikoshi—portable shrines—in decorative parades. One of Tokyo’s three annual sumo tournaments takes place in mid-May at Ryogoku Kokugikan—the national sumo stadium.
The five element philosophy teaches that one fosters health by eating foods that correspond with the seasons. The five element theory originated in China and spread to Japan. The theory is based on five seasons. Each season corresponds with an element, environment, organ pair, flavour and emotion. (The five elements relate to each other in terms of cycles but we won’t go into that now.)
Foods to support the kidneys and bladder during winter
Winter is the season of the kidney and its partner organ, the bladder. Chinese Medicine considers that kidney deficiency is an underlying cause of many ailment, including frequent urination, lack of energy, memory loss, lower back and knee pain, heel and ankle pain, swollen ankles, low libido, impotence and severe menopausal symptoms.
The appropriate flavour for this season is salty. Try to incorporate foods that taste salty such as seafood, beans, bone broth, miso, tamari, and pickles. Beneficial foods include flax, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, black sesame seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, barley, millet, and deep green vegetables. The herb Rehmannia is of benefit here.
At Shizuka Ryokan, in winter we serve yuzu scallops. Scallops are the perfect tonic for the kidneys.
Japanese culture honours the seasons. Japan is a mountainous country of islands stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China and Phillipine Seas in the south. Japan experiences five distinct seasons due to the wide variation in geography and climate: summer, autumn, winter, spring and tsuyu—the rainy season. The Japanese pay close attention to the blessings of each season, and practices have evolved to honour seasonal change.
Starting around Shogatsu—the New Year—icy winds bring snowfall to a large area of Japan stretching from Hokkaido Island in the north to the Hokuriku region of Honshu, the main island of Japan. (It does not snow in Okinawa Island in the south.) Heavy snowfall does not start until later in the year, sometimes in February. On the north island up to four metres of snow may fall in a season.
Spring is sakura—cherry blossom—season. The blossoms start to flower in the south in Okinawa, and the blossom season travels northward. The cherry blossom season only lasts for a few weeks, but spring typically lasts from March to June.
Next comes tsuyu—the fifth season. It pours rain. The start and end of the rainy season varies, but people usually avoid travelling to Japan during the last two weeks of June.
After tsuyu—the rainy season—ends the whole of Japan, with the exception of the northern island Hokkaido, enters a season of high humidity and temperature. Summer runs from July to September. Miyazaki mangoes and Kyushu papayas appear at the market. Typhoon season ravages Okinawa in the south.
In autumn, leaves change colour to gold and red, and people forage for mushrooms and harvest rice, apples, nashi and persimmons. Momijigari—maple viewing—is the tradition of visiting areas where maple trees have turned red. The days gradually grow darker and colder and autumn turns to winter once more.
At Shizuka Ryokan we have adopted the Japanese practice of honouring the seasons, with a southern hemisphere twist. In the guestrooms, flowers are changed in accordance with the seasons. Two seasons ago, our gardener planted cherry blossoms, with the aim of celebrating hanami—the cherry blossom festival—at Shizuka in the spring.
We have a seasonal yin yang go gyo yoga retreat with Lars Skalman and Cate Peterson planned for spring that ties in perfectly with the five seasons of Japan. Shizuka’s shiatsu practitioners are trained in five element shiatsu—a philosophy that encapsulates the Japanese concept of the five seasons.
At the time of writing, our menu reflects the seasons, with delicious edible pine mushrooms gleaned from the pine grove just outside the kitchen.
In Japan during Touji–winter solstice–people take yuzu baths. Winter solstice falls on June 22 in Australia this year. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit. Yuzu baths are believed to purify the body and soul. Here at Shizuka, we foster the Japanese yuzu bathing tradition by providing yuzu & hinoki bath salts with each overnight booking.
ph: +61 3 5348 2030