Disney is making a live-action “Mulan” film!

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 Audrey Magazine:

As an Asian American woman who grew up in the 90’s, it almost feels cliche to say Mulan is my favorite Disney princess, but there’s no denying it. I can still remember the first time I watched the VHS tape of Mulan and the way I instantly felt a kinship with her that I couldn’t feel with the other Disney princesses. This princess was strong, brave and she was the first Asian Disney character I had ever seen on a screen. After I proceeded to watch the movie upwards of a hundred times, I convinced my parents to buy me a Mulan doll and the Mulan Halloween costume. After all, Mulan was “my girl.” So when I read today’s news, I felt both excited and terrified.

After the success of the live-action films Cinderella and Maleficent, Disney announced that they have plans to develop a live-action version of Mulan. In fact, they already have a script written by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek. However, there is no set date yet, and Disney has a full slate of upcoming live-action films including Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland 2 and Dumbo.

Despite my soft spot for Mulan, I am naturally worried that some elements may not translate well to live-action (I’m looking at you, Mushu). But overall, curiosity and nostalgia win out. We’ve already seen a live-action bisexual Mulan, played by Jamie Chung in Once Upon A Time. How will the live-action film compare? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

 

NEIGHBORHOOD (Japan) 2015 Spring/Summer Editorial by ‘GRIND’ Magazine

Monjayaki, the popular Tokyo dish you’ve probably never heard of

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RocketNews 24:

When people think of Japanese food, most think of sushi, sashimi or even some of the more popular Japanese comfort foods like okonomiyaki or udon noodles. If you’re a tourist, however, you’ve likely never experienced one of Tokyo’s most popular dishes:monjayaki. But don’t feel bad; even some Japanese people who don’t live in the Tokyo metropolitan area (75 percent of the population) have never tasted it. This is one reason why Tsukishima Monjadori, a street with over 100 monjayaki restaurants, ranks in the top five sight-seeing spots in the capital for Japanese tourists (FYI, the other four are Harajuku, Tokyo Disneyland, Odaiba and Tsukiji Fish Market).

Monjayaki is simple but complicated: it has just a few easy ingredients and can be made in under three minutes yet it requires instructions to make, and even eat, properly. It helps to know, for example, that monja is not usually eaten with chopsticks, and that there’s a good reason why.

Read on to learn more about this unexpectedly delicious fare: watch a how-to videoshowing you how to make it, check out photos that show you how to eat it, and get tips from a master monjayaki chef.

I first met monjayaki chef Yasutami Ōhashi (who goes by “Tommy”) when I came to Japan in 1994. At that time he was running a restaurant in Okayama City called “Hibachi,” where he served a varied menu of Japanese izakaya favorites such as braised fish, gyoza, and edamame, accompanied by lots of draft beer. Tommy cooked in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by a counter which could seat up to 20 customers. Whenever you went into Hibachi, he’d immediately introduce you to the person sitting next to you giving both parties just enough information about each other to pique a conversation. Tommy knew that getting people to talk to each other was central to creating a friendly atmosphere where people would want to come back not just for the great food, but also to socialize.

▼Master chef Tommy Ōhashi is going to teach us how to make monjayaki.

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In November of 1999, Tommy became the first person to introduce monjayaki to Okayama through his restaurant called Taiyo no Jidai (太陽の時代). It was so successful, he now has four restaurants, (two in Okayama City, one in Kurashiki, and one in Takamatsu) all specializing in monjayaki.

Taiyo no jidai means “sunny era” and refers to the new century we were about to enter when he started his endeavor. “People were trepidatious about the new century,” said Tommy. “They were worried about Y2K and some thought the world was going to end! I wanted people to be happy and optimistic about the future so I called my restaurant Taiyo no Jidai so people would have something bright to look forward to in the new year and the 21st century.”

Ingredients:

Although the ingredients for monjayaki vary, Tommy treated me to three different dishes he makes at Taiyo no Jidai: 1. mentaiko (cod roe) & mochi 2. seafood & green onions 3. eggplant & cheese. These each arrived in separate metal bowls.

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Underneath the main ingredients in the bowl were shredded cabbage and a liquid made by combining wheat flour (komugiko) and fish broth (dashi). “Monjayaki first became popular after WWII, ” Tommy explains, “because during the war when food was scarce, the easy mixture of flour and dashi was a cheap way for families to eat.” He then gave me his first tip to making tasty monja.

Tip #1: To make the best monjayaki, use the highest quality flour.

▼Tommy uses the same flour used to make cakes.

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Next, he gave me a plate and one special utensil: a tiny spatula.

▼Plate and small spatula, called a moji-bera which means “word spatula.”

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▼The teppan grill, the same as is used for okonomiyaki, is embedded in the middle of the restaurant table.

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“Pencils and paper were also hard to come by during the war so children used the grill like a chalkboard to practice writing their letters in the flour and water mixture” Tommy said while pouring the mentaiko and mochi mixture onto the heated plate. “They’d draw letters with the small spatula. This is why the spatula is called moji-bera, or ‘word spatula.’”

With the monja on the grill, it is now time to use two bigger spatulas to beat it up! With a spatula in each fist, you cut up the ingredients rapid-fire by pounding the spatulas onto the grill thereby cutting up the ingredients (see video for action shot).

And Rocketeers, you can rejoice because this is one time when it’s okay to play with your food–in fact, it’s encouraged! Monja is surely the only Japanese food that allows you to get rid of stress, practice your drumming, and hone your culinary skills all while at the dinner table!

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When the ingredients are chopped small enough to make the monja a runny liquidy paste, let it rest to cook on the grill. After several more minutes, it’ll still be gooey but this time it’ll be ready to eat.

▼Monja on the grill, finished cooking and ready to eat!

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You’ve probably noticed that monja is not very aesthetically pleasing: it would not win a culinary beauty contest. You could even say it looks kind of, well, sick. If you’ve ever gotten drunk on shots of tequila, you know what I mean. This unappealing visual was a big barrier for me the first time I ate monja. So I tried eating it with my eyes closed, which helped. But I eventually overcame the association with drunken tequila nights by thinking of dogs. Yes, dogs. When dogs throw up, they eat their vomit. Some people say this is instinct, but I don’t think so. I think dogs eat their vomit because…it’s delicious!

Monjayaki tastes best when it is piping hot, so eat it straight off the teppan plate with themoji-bera. There is a special technique, which brings us to Tommy’s second tip.

Tip No. 2: The proper way to eat monja is to pull off a portion with the moji-bera and press down on it to get the piece to stick to your spatula…

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Then turn over the spatula and put it straight in your mouth.

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The plate is there only if you need it, such as when the monja has been sitting too long on the grill and is burning and you want to get it off the grill quickly. Speaking of burning, Tommy has another tip for us now.

Tip No. 3: Don’t waste the okuge! It tastes good with beer.

▼Okuge is the burnt stuff on the hot plate, located around the perimeter of the liquid.

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The fun in monjayaki is definitely in the creation of it on the grill and sharing the food among friends and family.

Tip No. 4: You can make dessert monja!

This is a specialty of Taiyo no Jidai restaurant, and isn’t available anywhere else that I know of, but Tommy shows us that the same technique can be used to make a delicious strawberry dessert.

▼Strawberries and cream is just one of the dessert monja served at Taiyo no Jidai.

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▼Yep, you’re gonna throw that beautiful concoction straight onto the grill!

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▼And mix it and beat it up just like regular monja.

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All that’s left to do is eat it with the moji-bera. The warm dessert melts in your mouth and tastes just like it has been baked in the oven–amazing!

There you have it, straight from the master chef who brought monjayaki to Okayama and started us all off with a sunny monjayaki 21st century. So Rocketeers, get to work making your own monja and be sure to let us know if you come up with something original and amazing that we just have to try!

Taiyo no Jidai has four restaurant locations in Western Japan:

Okayama Prefecture:
3-13-56 Omote-Cho, Okayama City 700-0822
1-17-2 Aoe Kita-ku, Okayama City 700-0941
619-2 Shimosho, Kurashiki City, 701-0112

Kagawa Prefecture:
4-20 Kajiyamachi,
Two Feet Bldg,
2F, Takamatsu 760-0028

UNITED ARROWS & SONS (Japan) x adidas Originals ZX Flux “Indigo”

Japanese style purveyor UNITED ARROWS & SONS join forces with adidas Originals once again for a collaborative take on the ZX Flux running shoe. This time around, the two have reworked the simplistic runner with a traditional Japanese indigo dying-inspired gradient colorway.

The unique hue is based on the natural indigo dyed fabric produced by the Miyazaki-based Aulico workshop, which was then printed along the upper of the sneaker. A metallic blue heel cage and dark blue coloration for the Three Stripes and laces round out the design for the upper.

Priced at ¥14,040 JPY (approximately $118 USD) the UNITED ARROWS & SONS x adidas Originals ZX Flux “Indigo” will be available for purchase at UNITED ARROWS locations in early May.

Top 10 puzzling things that Japanese people do

sato photographing pizza

RocketNews 24:

Wow you can use chopsticks?” “Your Japanese is really good!” “Geez, you’ve put on weight recently.” “It’s only 8:00 p.m., why are you going home?”

Anyone who’s been to Japan before has probably been bombarded by something similar to the above. Every country is going to have different cultural norms, but we decided to blow cultural sensitivity out of the water and just go ahead and list the top 10 things Japanese people do that puzzle us (but for some reason don’t stop us from thinking they’re still awesome to be around).

To create this list, we went through an extremely rigorous scientific process. Basically, we asked the non-Japanese staff at RocketNews24 to give us their opinions, and then we wrote them down and listed them. At some point numbers got put next to them. And now here they are:

#10. Japanese people are always taking pictures of food. Even airline food. Although I’ve started to do it myself too ever since I moved to Japan. (American male)

▼ To be fair, Japanese food does look like this.

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#9. They bring souvenir presents to everyone whenever they go to or come from anywhere. Americans sometimes give presents too, but the Japanese are on a different level. (American male)

▼ This isn’t a souvenir store, it’s my personal collection of souvenirs given to me by Japanese people.

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#8. In Singapore it’s pretty much summer all year round, so people go out shopping or whatever in T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. But in Japan when I do that, I get strange looks. Here, even in the heat of summer, you’ll see housewives decked in layers of clothes and makeup out just doing their grocery shopping. (Singapore female)

▼ Ah yes, the usual group of ladies turning Sunday shopping into an outright fashion show.

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#7. Scrunchies are seen as kind of childish back home, or a relic from the eighties, but in Japan women wear them all the time, even at work or when they want to dress up.(British female)

▼ Well, I think she looks fancy in it.

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#6. They always take their trash back home, since there’s very few trash cans and they’d never litter. That’s a good puzzling thing though. (Singapore female)

▼ This picture is banned in Japan for having caused too many shock-induced deaths.

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#5. When Japanese women carry bags, they sometimes do it with their palms out and facing up. If you saw someone do that in England, you’d think they were trying to act like a princess or something. (British female)

▼ Don’t forget your three P’s: Palm up, phone out, put a mask on.

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#4. Japanese women cover their mouths when they laugh. Uh, why? (British female)

View image on Twitter

#3. They’re extremely conscious of differences in age and the junior/senior hierarchy that goes along with it. They don’t mind just straight asking you your age, which doesn’t happen often in my home country. (Singapore female)

▼ “Woah wait you’re how old?!” Which leads us to #2…

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#2. Japanese people are pretty frank when it comes to talking about people’s appearances, both good and bad. They have no problem calling someone chubby even when they’ve lost weight, only calling one of two sisters beautiful, and so on. (American female)

▼ “These are my three daughters: Ugly, Not-So-Ugly, and The-Cute-One.”
“…well this got real awkward real fast.”

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And #1 is…

#1. They don’t accept any praise. Ever. No matter what. (Singapore female)

▼ “Oh no, I’m not smart at all. I’m really stupid. And I’m not cute either. At home my name is ‘Ugly.’”

View image on Twitter

ATTACHMENT by Kazuyuki Kumagai 2015 Fall/Winter Lookbook

Honda rolls out production S660 roadster in Japan

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Honda Motor Co., Ltd. will begin sales of the all-new Honda S660, a 2-seater open-top sports car, on April 2, 2015, at dealerships across Japan. In addition, on the same day Honda will begin sales, in a limited quantity, of the S660 CONCEPT EDITION, a special model that commemorates the market launch of the S660. Only 660 units of this special edition will be sold in Japan.

Under the keyword of “Heart Beat Sport,” the development team pursued a full-fledged sports car that offers excitement and a heart-throbbing experience in everything about this vehicle and strived to realize the joy of driving that only Honda can create.

The S660 adopts the mid-ship engine/rear-wheel drive (MR) layout and realizes a low center-of-gravity as well as the optimal 45-55 front-rear weight balance, in order to realize excellent cornering performance, which the development team emphasized to maximize the fun of turning. Moreover, the S660 features an open-top body that achieves both high rigidity and lightweight at the same time. This body developed exclusively for the S660 creates an open-air cabin space that enables the occupants to feel the wind, see the sky and enjoy an extraordinary experience while also enjoying a cabin space that enables the occupants to feel enveloped and being used with the vehicle.

Furthermore, with a passion to create a vehicle that provides casual access to the joy of driving for anyone, the development team adopted an exclusively-designed turbo charger for the engine, enabling dynamic driving and high-accelerator response even in the low engine rotation range. As for the transmission, the S660 comes with a newly-developed 6-speed manual transmission, making the S660 the world’s first* mini-vehicle equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. In addition, the S660 is also available with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with 7-speed paddle shifter that features a sports mode. The S660 realizes both driving performance unique to a car and easy handling in people’s everyday life.

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