Sunday, 25 November 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 46: Yoritomo Raising an Army!

Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) in full battle armour, ep 46

Starting in May 1180, episode 46 of ‘Taira no Kiyomori’ opened with another Genji/Yoritomo scene, following what happened in ep 45 where Yoritomo received a letter from Prince Mochihito requesting his help. Yoritomo still hesitated a bit. It took Hōjō Masako (Watanabe Anne) sternly reminding him of his life's purpose,  as well as the support from Tō Kuro (Tsukamoto Takashi) and Hōjō Tokimasa (Endō Kenichi) before Yoritomo was convinced of his chance to win a war against Kiyomori. The letter-deliverer (whoever he was) also said that Minamoto no Yorimasa 100% supported Yoritomo. Finally, Yoritomo nodded, and thus began the Genpei War. Click here for the online version of ep 46. Below is the summary of TNK 46 from NHK World Premium (click this for the longer summary in Japanese).

Learning Prince Mochihito's plot, Kiyomori bursts in anger and captures Mochihito and his followers. While Kiyomori enforces the transfer of capital to Fukuhara for Emperor Antoku, Yoritomo finally rises up against the Taira family. Kiyomori has mixed feelings to learn of Yoritomo's move, but at the same time gets excited, thinking the time has finally come for the Taira and Minamoto families to fight for the summit over the nation's power. In September 1180, Kiyomori commands samurais across the country to defeat Yoritomo.

Back to Kyoto: it seems that Kiyomori knew of Yorimasa’s plot with Mochihito. Mochihito learned of the leak and then ran from his house to Uji (Yorimasa's hideout). But as they arrived at Uji, they were attacked by Kiyomori’s army. Yorimasa and his son escaped but his son then died. Yorimasa then committed seppuku (harakiri, or suicide in the face of defeat); the earliest seppuku ever recorded in history.  According to Wiki, Mochihito escaped to Nara, but would be killed by Kiyomori’s army afterwards.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

TNK Interview: Okada Masaki could not play Yoritomo without Anne

Below is my translation of the article in Cinema Today Japan on 18 November 2012. I used Google Translator for word-to-word meaning and common sense (a huge dose of it) for general meaning to understand the article, so please forgive me for the (many many) mistakes I surely make...

Okada Masaki (forgot where I got this from...)

Okada Masaki could not play Yoritomo without Anne

Okada Masaki (the narrator of the currently-airing Taiga Drama ‘Taira no Kiyomori’ and the actor who portrayed the Genji leader Minamoto no Yoritomo) talked about his perception of an ideal couple.

The captivating series that shows a distinctive rendition of the life of Taira no Kiyomori is coming to an end. The story will now focus on Yoritomo raising an army and the destruction of the Taira. Okada, who was responsible for the narration from the first episode, said that he was totally taken by the Heike’s strength. “I think this is the story of a strong person. I think a person like that will also have a brighter future in the modern Japan. I have become a big fan of Kiyomori; until the shooting in July, I was a total Heike.”

Also, Okada had a strong impression towards Matsuyama Kenichi who played Taira no Kiyomori, “Kiyomori is a super human. The energy of Matsuyama Kenichi who played Kiyomori was also amazing. His strength is growing over time rapidly to mimic his father’s. The only Kiyomori to me is Mr Matsuyama’s.” However, there is no scene between the grown up Yoritomo with Kiyomori. “As Yoritomo, I’d like to at least have one interaction with Matsuyama-san’s Kiyomori. ‘You two are never to meet,’ so I was once told. I thought I would meet him, but it was not to be the case. I thought, ‘Why can’t I meet him?!’”.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 45: Prince Mochihito requested Yoritomo’s help!

Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) reading the request letter from Mochihito, ep 45

Taira no Kiyomori ep 45 started in spring 1180 where Kiyomori’s power grew significantly in Kyoto. His wise son Shigemori had died (ep 44), thus the power that kept the delicate balance between the Court and the Heike has diminished to almost nothing. Go-Shirakawa was put into house-arrest during last week’s episode, so we don’t have any Matsuda Shota scene for you Shota fans :-(

Click here for ep 45. This is the NHK summary for ep 45:

Kiyomori launches a coup d'etat by placing the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa under confinement, and finally becomes the first samurai to seize control over the entire country. While Kiyomori manipulates the Imperial Court freely from Fukuhara, Prince Mochihito (Go-Shirakawa's son), who has been put in a miserable situation by Kiyomori, devises a plot to take up arms against the Taira family. Yoshitsune, the son of Yoshitomo and Tokiwa, is also gaining strength with Benkei, formerly named Oniwaka. On February 21, 1180, Prince Tokihito (Tokuko's son) ascends the throne from Emperor Takakura and becomes Emperor Antoku as Kiyomori hoped.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Red velvet cupcakes with strawberry SMBC!

Red velvet cupcakes with strawberry SMBC (photo by Surya)

I love red velvet cupcakes, and I love Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC). I think SMBC is the most sensible icing you can get for tropical weather. Of course red velvet cupcakes is best paired with cream cheese frosting, but I've tried that before, and it didn't work. Either I just couldn't find the right cream cheese for that purpose here, or Bali weather is too hot for cream cheese frosting (unless I make in inside an aircon-ed room). I might be able to use cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream, but I just didn't want to gamble with the cream cheese found here (no offense to my own island). Hence, this time I paired red velvet cupcakes with strawberry SMBC. It tastes gorgeous and looks gorgeous as well! 

The red velvet cupcakes recipe is from the cute Laura Vitale, and the SMBC is from Martha Stewart, which I have written here (note: I didn't have enough butter for 5 cups of SMBC, so I used only about 370 grams or about 3 sticks of butter instead of 450 grams of butter. It still worked fine tho!). For the strawberry SMBC, after adding the butter, just add the pureed strawberries (original recipe calls for 8 ounces of strawberries). Keep beating on LOW speed until the desired piping consistency is achieved. If it get curdled, put the mixture on top of shimmering water and mix it again on low speed. 

Below is the red velvet cupcake recipe from Laura Vitale, with the original cream cheese frosting. The recipe yielded 15 cupcakes for me.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Martha Stewart’s white cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream

Winter Rose cupcake (which uses Martha Stewart's recipe below)

I love baking. I do. My favourites are anything chocolate (I have a delicious never-fail chocolate mud cake from Super Food Ideas that I will share sometime). I also love making muffins, and I have my own Cordon Bleu muffin recipes. But these days, I am so into cupcakes. And below is my favourite cupcake recipe: Martha Stewart's white cupcake with Swiss meringue buttercream.

This recipe is a tad expensive, as in you will use 5 egg whites for the cupcake and 5 extra egg whites for the icing... but this is when you can also make the delicious lemon cake I posted earlier today. The egg whites make the cupcake very light (and slightly guilt-free, hehe). The egg whites also somehow hold the icing stronger, particularly for hot climate like Bali.

Very fluffy lemon cake!

My lemon cake. Don't be fooled by its simple look; it tastes divine!

A friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago whether I’ve switched my blog into a total-Japanese dorama review blog. I chuckled and said no. I love watching J-dorama (and Okada Masaki), but this blog is a tangent personal thing where I can write many things, not just my affection towards J-dorama and J-cute guys.

One of the things that I have been wanting to write is my favourite recipes. And since I suddenly crave for a delicious lemon cake, I thought I will just post my newfound, super favourite, super easy recipe for lemon cake. I found it on the net because I had almost a dozen egg yolks at my disposal after making Martha Stewart’s white cupcake with Swiss Meringue buttercream (click this for the recipe). Because I didn’t want to waste the egg yolks, I searched for a cake that will need at least 5-6 egg yolks. And here it is! I got it from this site, but this recipe is so popular, I found the same recipe in other sites too, such as

Based on the reviews from Allrecipes, I made a slight change in the recipe. I reduced the milk to 1 cup plus TWO tablespoons, and added one tablespoon of lemon juice in the cake batter. The result was super amazing! The cake had lemon fragrance and tasted lemony, without being too tangy. The egg yolks helped the cake to have such a soft and beautiful structure that almost melted in your mouth! The recipe for the cake is totally recommended! 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 44: Shigemori, O-hime, etc

Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) and his daughter O-hime 
(kinda reminds me of Masaki's role in 'Himitsu no Akko-chan'!)

TNK this week (1179 CE) was opened with Minamoto no Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) and Hōjō Masako (Watanabe Anne) enjoying the presence of their first offpring, baby O-hime. At the background, father-in-law Hōjō Tokimasa was getting worried that he would be the receiving end of Kiyomori's wrath should the Rokuhara lord heard of this news. It seems that Tokimasa had also heard of rumours about the impending end of the Heike's reign in Kyoto.

Yoritomo and Masako seemed to be blissfully ignorant of these subjects, at least for the moment. Baby O-hime seemed to be a healthy girl (which – alas – was not the way she would grow up; I think she would have some mental illness of sort). Somehow, I think Yoritomo was still being left alone with Masako (without the Heike getting pissed off about the marriage) because Kiyomori was busy balancing his power in Kyoto. Besides, for years Yoritomo had been seen as very passive and devoid of any passion to overthrow the Heike.

After the super short Genji scene, the story went back to Kyoto to the Heike and the Imperial Family. Below is the summary from NHK:

Shigemori, who has been suffering from anxiety of being caught between the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa and Kiyomori, finally falls ill. After Kiyomori's daughter Moriko, who acted as the intermediary between the Fujiwara and Taira families, dies of illness, Go-Shirakawa plots to bring down the Taira family by joining hands with Motofusa. In the Taira family, Munemori (Shigemori's half brother) becomes the head of the family on behalf of Shigemori who has been sick. After the passing of Shigemori at the age of 42, Go-Shirakawa immediately confiscates Shigemori's territory, which provokes Kiyomori's anger.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 43: Shanaō became Yoshitsune

Shanaō (Kamiki Ryunosuke) became Yoshitsune, ep 43

TNK ep 43 opened this week with Narichika asking Shigemori to beg Kiyomori to spare his life in the aftermath of the Shishigatani Incident last week. We also have Lady Tokiwa for the first time after more than 10 episodes, as well as Shanaō and Benkei, plus Yoritomo and Masako (of course!). Regulars like Kiyomori himself and the two-faced Go-Shirakawa were always there. Someone got sick, and someone would die in ep 44. Below is the NHK summary:

Narichika, who has been exiled by Kiyomori, dies from starvation. Shigemori becomes worn down by the passing of his brother-in-law and from the considerations shown for the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa. Around the same time, Kiyomori learns of Tokuko’s pregnancy and prays for the safe delivery of the baby. Tokuko finally gives birth to a boy, the son of Emperor Takakura, who later becomes known as Emperor Antoku. In izu, Yoritomo and Masako are trying to get permission for their marriage from Masako's father Tokimasa.

By the way, I made a mistake in ep 42 last week. I said that Narichika was beaten several times by Kiyomori. Well, I was so wrong. Narichika was arrested and exiled (because of Shigemori’s plea), while the monk Kiyomori beaten to his death was Saiko. I’ve fixed ep 42 with this new info. So in ep 43, since Shigemori failed to bail out Narichika, the latter somehow died in exile due to starvation. It was a sorry scene which I chose to ignore (and browsed the net instead), for it was rather gruesome. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Review of Yoshikawa Eiji ‘s ‘Minamoto no Yoritomo’, Book One

The book cover by Wenart Gunadi
Thanks to an anonymous commentator almost two weeks ago, I’ve read Yoshikawa Eiji’s book (or Eiji Yoshikawa to Western readers) titled ‘Minamoto no Yoritomo’. Yoshikawa sensei was the author of some masterpieces, including ‘Musashi’ and ‘Taiko’. I read the Indonesian version of ‘Minamoto no Yoritomo’ (no English translation so far); the translation was quite well done. 

Obtaining the book was an adventure of its own too. The book was apparently published in May this year, when I didn’t even know about (and fell in love with) Okada Masaki (the actor who played Minamoto no Yoritomo in NHK’s 2012 ‘Taira no Kiyomori’). Hence, the book completely escaped my radar, despite me having read Musashi cover-to-cover twice, once in Indonesian and the next one in English. To make it more dramatic, the only bookshop in Denpasar that sold it was about 45 min drive with motorbike, into the most polluted, convoluted and jammed region in Kuta (and hence, in the whole island). But I got it safely and read it at the same night (jumping right into the later part where Yoritomo was already a 29 years old man, but then reversing back to read properly the next day). Below is the book’s review.