Tag: ‘Food’

Video: SWITL magic goop scoop

28 Mar 2011

SWITL -- an impressive "robot hand" tool developed by factory equipment manufacturer Furukawa Kikou -- seems to defy the laws of nature by picking up deposits of gels, sauces and other soft semi-liquids without smearing them or altering their shape. This demo video shows how well the tool handles mayonnaise and ketchup.

Details about the technology are not available on Furukawa Kikou's website (perhaps because the patent is pending), but the tool appears to incorporate a conveyor belt design. According to the company, the magic goop scoop was originally developed for use in bakery production lines, but its unique ability to cleanly handle semi-liquids makes it suitable for a wide range of applications.

iDish for iPad

23 Jul 2010

While the iPad may or may not revolutionize the way we consume media, it does have the potential to enhance the way we eat.

iDish -- iDish --
"Let's start a new life with iDish"

Introducing iDish, a new concept by iPad enthusiast shiinaneko that transforms the device into a versatile dinner plate.

iDish -- iDish --
Ideal for sushi

To use the iPad as an iDish, simply perform a Google image search to find your dish of choice. For a nice selection of sushi dishes, try searching for "sashimi" and "dish" (刺身, 皿). Display and resize the image, and you are ready to eat.

iDish -- iDish --
Aji (horse mackerel) on iDish

The iPhone/iPod Touch can also be used as an iDish. The compact size is suitable for soy sauce or small servings of tofu.

iDish -- iDish --
iPhone as iDish

Of course, iDish is also suitable for cuisines other than Japanese.

iDish -- iDish --
Curry rice and shumai dumplings on iDish

The possibilities are endless.

[Link: shiinaneko]

Photos: Rice paddy art (2010)

13 Jul 2010

This year's selection of rice paddy art has begun to crop up in fields across Japan.

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Rice paddy art in Inakadate (Aomori prefecture) [photo]

Two historical figures -- the legendary warrior-monk Benkei (left) and the warrior Ushiwakamaru, a.k.a. Minamoto no Yoshitsune (right) -- have emerged in a pair of fields in the Aomori prefecture town of Inakadate. For nearly 20 years, the town has prided itself as home to Japan's finest rice crop art, which is created by carefully arranging different colors of rice plants in the field.

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Benkei (left) and Ushiwakamaru (right) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Benkei [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ushiwakamaru [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ushiwakamaru in late June [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
View of Ushiwakamaru at ground level [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ushiwakamaru [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Benkei [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
View of Benkei at ground level

+ Video of Inakadate rice paddy art (filmed in late June)

* * * * *

Here are a few more works of rice paddy art from other parts of Japan.

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Animals in Asahikawa (Hokkaido) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Animals in Asahikawa (Hokkaido) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Samurai Keiji Maeda in Yonezawa (Yamagata prefecture) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
View from top of Keiji Maeda's head [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Princess Okaiko, a local folklore figure, in the town of Shirataka (Yamagata prefecture) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Rice paddy art at Denpark in Anjo (Aichi prefecture) [via]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Rice paddy art at Sakakibara onsen (Mie prefecture) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ducks near Fukushimagata Lagoon Water Park (Niigata prefecture) [via]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ground level view of ducks near Fukushimagata Lagoon Water Park (Niigata prefecture) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Ducks near Fukushimagata Lagoon Water Park (Niigata prefecture) [via]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Buddhist sword dancer and Anpanman in the Mizusawa area (Iwate prefecture) [photo]

Rice paddy crop art in Japan, 2010 --
Anpanman in the Mizusawa area (Iwate prefecture) [photo]

- Rice paddy art, 2009
- Time-lapse video of rice paddy art, 2008
- Rice paddy art harvest, 2007
- Rice paddy art, 2007

Zombie meat

24 May 2010

Zombie Meat (Zonbi niku) --

"Zombie Meat," an exquisite new Japanese snack for the horror enthusiast, consists of bite-sized chunks of tender blue flesh that, according to the package, has been aged to deadly perfection at the graveyard.

Zombie Meat (Zombi niku) beef jerky --
Zombie Meat

The ghastly meat snack, which tastes remarkably like peppered beef jerky, can be found at select shops in Japan for 399 yen (about $4.50) per pack.

Video: Star Wars disco sea chicken

03 Feb 2010

Hagoromo canned tuna (a.k.a. "sea chicken") commercial, circa 1978.

+ Video

[Via MetaFilter]

‘Ririkan’ fast-food mystery meat

20 Jan 2010

Whether it's genetically-modified mutant chickens or burgers made of eyeballs, tales of tainted fast food are favorite fodder for urban legends. In Japan, one juicy rumor claims that a popular gyūdon (beef on rice) restaurant chain secretly substitutes its beef with the meat of the ririkan, a type of giant rat from Australia.

Meat of ririkan, giant Australian rat --
Where's the beef?

Considering that the ririkan is a nonexistent animal and there are no high-profile rodent farming operations in Australia, it is safe to assume this claim is false -- but how did the rumor get started?

One contributing factor might be that fast-food gyūdon is so incredibly inexpensive in Japan. Low prices raise suspicions among consumers, leading some to conclude that cheap, low-grade alternatives are being substituted on the sly.

But why giant rats from Australia?

Perhaps it is simply a case of two separate facts becoming jumbled in the public's mind. First, Australia is seen as a cheap and plentiful source of meat. More than 70% of Japan's beef imports now come from Down Under, and the price is low. Second, the consumption of large rodents is not unprecedented in Japan. The nutria (Myocastor coypus) -- a large, rat-like rodent native to South America -- served as a source of food in Japan during the lean war years.

The short-lived love affair with the nutria began in 1939, when the Japanese military imported 150 of the animals from France. A large-scale breeding effort was launched with the aim of creating a cheap supply of meat and fur, and by 1944 the nation's nutria population had reached an estimated 40,000.

Wild nutria in Hyogo prefecture --
Wild nutria in Hyōgo prefecture. Itadakimasu!

After the war, however, the demand for nutria meat and fur evaporated. Nutria farms shut down, and many animals were released into the wild, where they thrived. Decades later, nutria populations have become established in various parts of Japan, with the largest numbers found in western Honshū (though sightings have been reported as far east as Chiba prefecture). Today, the nutria is regarded as an invasive species that spoils the landscape, interferes with rice and barley farming, and threatens the habitat of an endangered dragonfly (Libellula angelina). In Okayama prefecture, which boasts the largest nutria population, as many as 2,000 of the animals are captured and killed each year in organized culling operations.

Nutria meat is no longer eaten in Japan, but the fact that the animal looks like a giant rat and once appeared on dinner tables might add a touch of plausibility to rumors of rodent flesh being served up at fast-food gyūdon restaurants (though it does nothing to explain the origin of the word "ririkan").

Whatever the source of the ririkan rumors, scholars suggest that talk of tainted fast food is an inevitable by-product of our modern-day appetite for convenient (and less healthy) food over traditional home-cooked meals. In addition to demonstrating the importance of fast food in our consumer-driven culture, these stories also reveal a lingering mistrust of the large corporations that manufacture the stuff we eat.

[Note: This is the latest in a series of weekly posts on Japanese urban legends. Check back next week for another report.]

‘Space Barley’ six-packs for sale

04 Dec 2009

Sapporo Breweries has begun selling six-packs of the world's first "space beer" brewed with barley descended from seeds that spent time in space.

Sapporo Space Barley space beer --

For now, only 250 six-packs of the beer, which Sapporo calls “Space Barley," are available for purchase. Customers will be selected at random from those who apply through the Space Barley website before December 24.

The barley used in the beer is the fourth-generation offspring of seeds that spent five months aboard the International Space Station in 2006 as part of research that Sapporo conducted with the Russian Academy of Sciences and Okayama University. The aim of the research was to study the adaptability and life cycle of barley in zero-gravity and to explore the challenges of achieving self-sufficient food production in space.

Space Barley beer has a mellow flavor and slightly dark color reminiscent of deep space, according to Sapporo. The six-packs are priced at an astronomical 10,000 yen ($110), but Sapporo will donate the profits to Okayama University, who will use the funds to promote science education for children and foster the development of space science research in Japan and Russia.

[Links: Space Barley website, Sapporo press release]

Tarako Kewpie is back

04 Oct 2009

Tarako Kewpie is at it again with a new pasta sauce commercial.

+ Video

Space caramel made from giant jellyfish

16 Sep 2009

In the latest move in Japan's war on giant jellyfish, high school students in the town of Obama have developed a new type of caramel candy made from the enormous sea creatures -- and they are offering it up as a snack for astronauts in space.

Echizen kurage, Nomura's jellyfish --
Nomura's jellyfish (Echizen kurage) -- If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em (in space)

The enterprising Obama Fisheries High School students have requested the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to place their chewy treat on the official menu for astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The space agency, which appears to be entertaining the proposal, is reportedly sending a representative to the school tomorrow (September 17) to evaluate the candy.

Described as having a sweet and salty flavor, the caramel's ingredients include sugar, starch syrup, and jellyfish powder, which is obtained by boiling the jellyfish down to a thick paste, drying it, and grinding it into fine particles. The most recent batch of caramel uses powder from Nomura's jellyfish snared last month in fixed fishing nets in nearby Wakasa Bay. The bay is located in Fukui prefecture, which has been among the areas hardest hit by the giant jellyfish swarms in recent years.

Students pose with caramel made from giant jellyfish -- The students began cooking with Nomura's jellyfish three years ago, after a NASA-designed food safety management system was installed at the school. In 2006, after the school developed a method for processing giant jellyfish into an edible powder, a local company began using it as an ingredient in their jellyfish cookies.

Since then, the students have been searching for new ways to use their jellyfish powder. They are hoping to benefit from the recent raw caramel craze sweeping Japan.

[Source: Chunichi]