Monday, 31 December 2012

Hanamizuki ~ a love lasting for 100 years

The beautiful Hanamizuki (dogwood flower)

After the contemplative post below, I'd like to close this year with this gorgeous, beautiful song titled 'Hanamizuki' by Hitoto Yō. Hanamizuki is the Japanese word for 'dogwood flower' and it is also the title of a 2010 J-romance movie starring Aragaki Yui, Ikuta Toma (!) and Osamu Mukai (!!). I haven't got the time to review the movie, but it's really really beautiful. The music is gorgeous as well. 

Herewith I present you the Hanamizuki MV, Hanamizuki OST by Hitoto Yō and another version by Aragaki. Also presented are the Romaji lyrics, English translation and the original Kanji lyrics from Jpopasia.

Happy New Year, and may the love we share with our loved ones lasts for 100 years!

OST Hanamizuki by Hitoto Yō

Year End and New Year contemplation

Sunrise in Lovina (pic by myself)

Year 2012 is ending soon, in a little more than 12 hours at our place in Australia. I’ve been pondering how 2012 has been to me, and I think, in all honesty, despite its ups and downs, 2012 has been good to me. It started rough; I had lots of tears and – thus – resolutions this year so that I won’t have to go through those painful experiences anymore. I truly hope 2013 will be better, happier, richer, healthier and sweeter for me – and for us all. 
Year 2012 also has many sweet things for me. In addition to realising that I do want to live my life with my partner in Australia, I also sharpened the art of making cupcakes (including the icing), immersed myself in Japanese language through J-doramas, and fell in love with some gorgeous Japanese actors (Okada Masaki! Ikuta Toma! Osamu Mukai!). I made some new friends and rekindled my friendship with my old friends. My dad was ill, and because of that, I somehow got closer to my aunt and also my dear maid who has been helping me so far.  I created my professional cetacean blog and had some good news on the cetacean side of my work. 

I do have some hopes that are not realised yet, hopefully mainly because it is not the time yet. I hope that those dreams of mine will come to fruition before mid 2013. I do have my worries, for those dreams are related to my job and how I can live my life in AU (everything here is more expensive than in Bali!). But just as I was getting worried, I found a passage in a book my friend lent me. The book is titled ‘Ocean of Dharma’ by Chogyam Trungpa. Here, I quote the entire passage for you and me (p 164), in the hope that we will always dare to dream and work to make our dreams come true.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 50: Finale!

Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo with his Higekiri sword

I'm a bit sad that Taira no Kiyomori comes to an end. But I cannot always spare my Sunday evening or Monday early morning doing recaps, so perhaps it's a good thing as well. Plus, I need someone to resume the English translation for me to really understand the fine lines in TNK. Anyway, below is the summary of ep 50 on NHK World Premium:
Kiyomori is struck down by a febrile illness. Kiyomori appears before Saigyō, formerly named Norikiyo, as a wraith, and learns the meaning of his life through dialogue with Saigyō. In Kyoto, people rush to Kiyomori's bedside and bring up their concerns over their future. Kiyomori finally passes away. After the passing of Kiyomori, the fate of the Taira family takes a turn for the worse. Tokiko throws herself into the sea with Emperor Antoku in her arms, and the entire Taira family ends up being destroyed at Dannoura. At the bottom of the sea, Tokiko sees the members of the Taira family standing, including Kiyomori with a sword in his hand.
Click here to watch the finale online.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 49: Kiyomori understood Yoritomo’s dream

Go-Shirakawa (Matsuda Shota) and Kiyomori (Matsuyama Kenichi), ep 49
I turned on my NHK World Premium at 7pm, hoping to see the iconic opening credit of Taira no Kiyomori.  However, I was welcomed with a news anchor talking about the Japanese election. Arrghhh! I didn’t realise that TNK was moved half an hour earlier due to the election! Thank God for the FC site and the rerun (on Monday at 2 am, yes in the morning), otherwise I won’t be able to post this article. 

Below is the summary of Taira no Kiyomori ep 49 from NHK World Premium:

Early in the following year in 1181, ill feelings towards the Taira family spread across the country. Meanwhile, the former Emperor Takakura, who has been an anchor to Kiyomori, passes away at the age of 21. While Kiyomori is losing his power, the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa again appears before Kiyomori and provokes him. In Kamakura, Yoritomo is establishing a new samurai-oriented political system together with his followers. Kiyomori is delighted to learn that Yoritomo is following in the footsteps of Yoshitomo and Kiyomori. Kiyomori tells Go-Shirakawa that the struggle for supremacy among samurais will be intensified from now on.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 48: Yoritomo started to understand Kiyomori

The moment Yoritomo started to understand Kiyomori
Taira no Kiyomori ep 48 is more about the Heike than the Genji (so I wasn’t trying too hard to understand). But that’s okay. We have two more episodes to go, so I will stomach watching the Rokuhara lord (besides, he had the sweet and kind Tokiko with him). More importantly, this episode is where Minamoto no Yoritomo started to understand the true nature of his enemy (and came to respect him because of that). Click here to watch ep 48 online; the NHK summary is below:

After the loss in the Battle of Fujikawa, Kiyomori reluctantly gives in to Munemori’s tearful appeal for restoring the capital to Kyoto. Learning Kiyomori’s decision, Yoritomo no longer understands Kiyomori’s thoughts toward a samurai-oriented country, and asks Benkei about Kiyomori’s younger days. As he hears of Kiyomori’s boldness and fearlessness, Yoritomo comes to realize that Kiyomori and Yoshitomo had the same ambition for the future as Yoritomo is now trying to achieve. Around the same time, the Taira forces accidentally burn down Todaii Temple while trying to drive out the warrior monks. 

The episode opened with Kiyomori saying something to his subordinates (a speech which I evidently did not pay attention to). Then we have Itō Tadakiyo conversing with Taira no Tokitada (Kiyomori’s brother in law) about, among others, the spirit of samurai.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry SMBC

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry SMBC

I was flipping Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book when I saw the strawberry cupcake recipe. I wonder how it worked, so I searched online for reviews. I found this one from Brown Eyed Baker who was so excited about the final result (and she has lovely photographs!). I immediately was tempted to try.

Then, last week my friends and I were driving through Bedugul in central Bali when my friends spotted some fresh strawberries on sale. Since I had wanted to try Martha Stewart's recipe on strawberry cupcake, I bought some fresh strawberries. Two days later, I baked a big batch of strawberry cupcakes with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream. It was a total hit! My Australian friend said that this cupcake was the best he'd ever tried. A friend who live in France (and is visiting Bali now) tried it and even took care to eat the remnants of the crumbles sticking on the paper cup. He is a baker himself, so I take that as a compliment! My other friends said that these cupcakes were the best they ever tried. It was more delicious than the cupcakes in local bakeries here (and we have lots of great bakeries in Bali!).

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 47: Yoritomo and Yoshitsune meet at last!

Yoshitsune (Kamiki Ryūnosuke) and Benkei (Aoki sūkō) offering their service to Yoritomo, ep 47

This week’s Taira no Kiyomori (September 1180 CE) opens with the Rokuhara Lord Kiyomori dispatching orders and strategies to fight against Yoritomo’s forces. Click here to see it online. Below is the summary from NHK World Premium:

In 1180, Kiyomori commands his followers to defeat Yoritomo under the name of the former Emperor Takakura. Although Yoritomo loses the battle against the Taira forces at Mt. Ishibashi, he vows to realise Yoshitomo’s long-cherised wish to build a true samurai-oriented country with the backing of powerful anti-Taira samurais. On October 20, the Taira forces led by Koremori (Shigemori’s son) and the Minamoto forces led by Takeda Nobuyoshi stand face to face near Fuji River – The Battle of Fujikawa. The Taira forces, however, flee in fear from the battlefield, mistaking the sound of water birds for a surprise night attack by the Minamoto forces.

Meanwhile, Minamoto no Yoritomo, Hōjō Tokimasa etc were face to face with the Taira force (led by Ito Sukechika and Ōba no Kagechika) for the first time at Mt Ishibashi (14 September 1180). Yoritomo was orginally shocked to see his army receiving big hit, but he fought back with his arrows and sword. Nonetheless, since the reinforcement did not come as expected, the Genji still had to retrieve to a cave. Kajiwara Kagetoki (one of the Heike lead samurai) found the cave and entered it just enough to detect the Genji. However, Kajiwara said to his friends that he didn’t see anything; a narrow escape indeed. The Genji army and Yoritomo would then escape by the sea and regrouped with their comrades to Awa Province. By the way, I think Ito Sukechika here was the same Sukechika, Yae-hime’s father who killed baby Senserumaru and got rid of Yae to God knows where in ep 32).

Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) at the Battle of Ishibashiyama