While I intend to post a wide variety of things both old and new, NHK Blends has been catching my attention lately with some very beautiful and culturally inspiring renditions of pop classics using traditional Japanese instruments very masterfully performed.
I present Eric Clapton – Change the World played on the chuzao shamisen.
Fast forward to 0:46 if you want to skip the intro.
While browsing YouTube one day my wife discovered a young Korean man named Inhyeok Yeo who does very interesting one-man acapella covers of songs including the song above (Eric Clapton’s Change the World.) While I don’t know as much about Korea as Japan I do have a fondness for it as well and have been there several times, so I’ll occasionally feature Korean music and artists here as well.
Japanese umeshu (梅酒, pronounced u-may-shu) is a delicious, aromatic, wonderful alcohol drink from Japan that you have to try. It’s hands-down my favorite drink from Japan. Umeshu is often mischaracterized as “Japanese plum wine”, but is closer to a fruit cordial or fruit liqueur. It’s made from allowing green unripe Japanese ume plums and rock sugar steep in a clear distilled alcohol called shochu (焼酎) for several months. Shochu itself is an incredibly popular drink in Japan (and South Korea), which the Japanese drink WAY more than the traditional sake (pronounced sa-keh, not sa-ki).
Umeshu is typically 15%-20% alcohol and can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or mixed with carbonated water.
It is a common tradition for Japanese people to make their own umeshu during the summer and I did the same. I was thrilled when I was able to make it this past summer in the United States as well. I’ll explain how and tell you where to look for ingredients and what substitutes can work.
For those who have never tried it or don’t want to make it, Choya and other brands of umeshu (pictured to the right), can be found at good and larger alcohol retailers in the U.S. Especially look for alcohol retailers in areas with a high Asian populations. The picture to the right is a 750ml bottle of Choya that I used to buy at the local grocery store in Japan for 900 yen. It’s more than double that ($20) here in the U.S.
Even though I was only there for a few days in one city that has a distinctive feel from the rest of Korea because it is a major port city, I really loved the country and the people. The thought actually occurred to me that I might like to try living there some day …
As a sequel to my last cute photo from Korea, here is an adorable Korean child I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of. I had my camera aimed at her when she looked right at me and I took the shot.
I’ve been pretty lazy about posting my photos from my trip to Pusan, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan. I had such an amazing experience and saw so many great things. I guess instead of posting photos like it was a sight-seeing vacation, I’ve been contemplating and taking in everything I saw and experienced, which was enough to change my views about this world and human interactions (for the better!)
I went to Pusan and Taiwan alone. I went alone so I could be more approachable by the locals and interct with them more naturally and really experience the places first hand. Having another English speaker, while fun in most cases, makes you less approachable and somehow keeps you in your own world to a certain extent. I did meet some friends in Taipei who were also there traveling, but didn’t really spend time with them (sorry guys!)
Below are two girls in Pusan offering free hugs in a crowded shopping and entertainment district. I made sure to get my free hugs!
As I mentioned in a previous post, I decided to spend Christmas in South Korea 🙂
I had the most AMAZING Christmas eve dinner EVER. I wandered into a little restaurant in a shady looking part of the city of Pusan and pointed to something that looked good on the menu (I know ZERO Korean.) It was kimchee chigae – a spicy kimchee soup with beef and tofu in it and a ton of those AMAZING side dishes they Koreans give you. It was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had and filled me so full I was going to burst.
One thing I’ve learned is that you find the best food in the most average or mediocre neighborhoods and small restaurants. I always look for places like this when I travel and am more often than not greeting with great meals.
The amazing thing … it was only 5,000 won or about $5.34!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Korea was AWESOME. I’ll post more photos soon. I might not get around to it until the new year though because on Friday I leave to Taiwan!!!! I’m spending New Years in Taipei, w00t!!!
I’ve decided a normal life is boring … I want to see the world now 🙂