summer moments

summer in saskatoon is short.  it was even shorter this year, but it was full of memorable moments.  i remember a few::

  • elijah climbed up the monkey bars and walked across, by himself.
  • i was driving our crashed car to the body shop when the hood opened all the way up and smashed back into the windshield.  no one was hurt.
  • i came home to our house repainted with the color we chose, wondering if i’d like it.
  • elijah looking sorry after he dropped our camera on the concrete patio and broke it.
  • elijah singing ‘people on the road can turn an LOL into a great big OMG‘ — over and over.
  • a young boy bought my handmade toy at the fringe festival.  he took off.  i looked at the money he put in my palm — two dollars short.
  • elijah found a ladybug on a sidewalk.  he was so happy that i was happy.  and he stepped on it.
  • i was saying ‘whee~’ as i playfully tipped the rocking chair back and forth.  elijah who was watching me by my side tamed me “mama, ‘whee~’ shinaide.  abunai kara.” (mama, don’t do ‘whee~’.  because it’s dangerous.)
  • elijah and i picked dandelions for papa late one afternoon.  he held them tight in his palm until he got home.  he gave them to papa.  papa gave him a big hug.
  • elijah ate a whole watermelon in one day, by himself.

i hope your summer is full of beautiful moments…

summer diary, age 7 :: bath with tomoko

bath with tomoko

july 22, wednesday 1981 cloudy

“yesterday, i bathed with tomoko-chan and she washed my head.  it felt very good.”

i still remember the frosted glass with snowflake pattens in the bathroom in the house we lived in from age 5 to 14.  tomoko was the daughter of my mom’s friend.  i think she was older than my brother, who is 3 1/2 years older than me.  she was, my mom and i think, my brother’s first love.  she stayed over a few days during the summer break.  i think she broke my brother’s heart.

she wore a beautiful baby blue long skirt.  her long hazelnut hair swayed as she went upstairs with my brother.  she had big eyes with long eyelashes, like alice from wonderland.  every time she smiled she was like an angel.

maybe she was my first love too.

summer diary, age 7 :: bad medicine

summer diary book, 1981 front cover

my mom sent me a box full of my old diaries, essays, letters and poems.  this is one of the picture diaries that i had to keep as an assignment during summer vacation when i was in grade one.  it looks like i drew it with crayon.  the summer vacation began on july 20 and ended on august 31.  i wrote a diary entry under the drawing.

summer diary, july 21, 1981


“i was forced to take medicine by mother yesterday.  so i threw up.  after i threw up, my throat hurt.”

what a touching story!  can you feel the maternal love?

medicine in japan is very bitter.  Kong Qiu said “good medicine tastes bitter in the mouth…”.  for that, japanese pharmaceuticals are doing an excellent job.

even the kid’s medicine i had to take was also bitter.  they came in liquid and powder form.  my mom used to wrap powder medicine in “オブラート (oblaat)”, which is a tasteless water-soluble gel made of starch.  that way, i wouldn’t taste the bitterness of the medicine.  liquid medicine, on the other hand, had no way to distract from its bad taste — a sickening mixture of cola, cinnamon, dirt and toothpaste in a purple-brown color.  as i got older and more mischievous, i would pour the liquid medicine down the sink and tell my mom that i took it.  i was successfully “taking” the medicine happily in this way until one day when i poured so much down the drain that my mom noticed and figured out what was going on.

i learned that i should never EVER tell a lie to my mom and to stay healthy so that i wouldn’t have to take medicine.

canadian kids don’t have to go through such a rough childhood.

children’s tylenol in canada is flavored cherry, bubblegum, or banana — you name it.  elijah likes the super-sweet medicine so much that he asks for a second helping — saying “more, more” — a red carpet to happy drug addiction.

i can’t wait to introduce him the king of bitter medicine, the original “SEIRO-GAN“!

morning glory

during my summer holidays from elementary school, i was supposed to do a drawing every day showing the growth of  a “morning glory” flower i planted in the spring.  it was a combined science and art project.

i always drew the entire made-up 6-week record of the flower growing two days before school started at the beginning of september.  my drawings would end up showing a bigger, more beautiful and impressive flower than actually grew in real life.  a big bloom would show up suddenly in my drawings on august 30th or 31st.

one year, my flower died because i forgot to water it.  i did the same kind of drawings anyway.

drawing a 1950 ford from no memory (ed ruscha show)

(click the image to view close up)

anthony easton is curating a show at the art gallery of alberta based on the ed ruscha drawing, will 100 artists draw a 1950 ford from memory. he got permission from ed ruscha himself. 100 people have agreed to draw a 1950 ford from memory for this show.

anthony contacted me, so i had to draw something. i was supposed to use basic white paper – like the one you would use for desktop printing. since i had to draw from memory, i was not supposed to use any reference images of a 1950 ford.

it turns out, i have no clue what 1950 ford looks like. i have no memory of it whatsoever. i think it might look like a mama-chari bicycle. plus it says “ford” in japanese on the mama-chari, so it’s clearly a ford. the maximum team power ducks are impressed, except for the one evil duck who is trying to puncture the tires…

guest curator, anthony easton
september 21, 2007 – january 6, 2008
opening reception: friday, september 21, 7pm
curator’s talk: saturday, september 22, 1pm

art gallery of alberta
enterprise square
100-10230 jasper avenue,
edmonton, alberta

memory – animation by tezuka osamu (1964)

tezuka osamu is the japanese animator known as the “father of anime”. i grew up watching his work, including “ribon no kishi” (princess knight), “fushigi na merumo chan” (marvelous melmo), and of course “tetsuwan atomu” (astro boy).

in general, i hate anime. i don’t own any manga comics. i just don’t like the style of japanese animation that’s most famous in the west — what people call “japanimation”, with the superbig eyes and supercute faces. i think it’s creepy, in a bad way. people often assume that i’m an anime fan, maybe because i’m japanese and i draw, but i really never pay attention to it.

tezuka osamu created the style with big eyes and cute faces, but somehow i still like his work. maybe it’s nostalgia, but i think his drawings are more beautiful and gracious than the style of the recent anime i’ve seen. my favorite work of his is a manga, “black jack“, which i read as a high school student.

“memory” is an animated short that uses a mixture of drawn animation and cut-out images. none of it looks like anime. you might be surprised by the style — but it looks really cool. the story is insightful about the psychology of memory of individuals and a culture. i like the idea that futuristic people will have a very different idea about us (our “toilet culture”) than we do.

you are a dog, you are a dog, you are a dog…



i think i drew this in 2004. i’m scared of cats…

how scared am i?

  • case study 1 (age 9): my friend showed me her tiny kitten on the street. she suggested that i hold the kitten. i refused, but she insisted. so i tried to hold it but the kitten was wriggling around in my hands and i ended up dropping it. luckily it was a cat, so it landed successfully on its feet. but it didn’t forget to glare fiercely at me. trauma.
  • case study 2 (age 12): there was a famous stray cat in my town. it was a white cat with only one eye. she was a playgirl (cat). she was always pregnant – scar on her face and scar in her heart. there was always wind blowing whenever she was around. spooky and mysterious. what kind of life are they having, in the cat world?
  • case study 3 (age 17): i came home from school and found a cat (evil one) taking a nap on the porch. i was too scared to walk past it, so i couldn’t go inside. i waited for awhile (hiding behind a tree) but eventually i realized i had to make a move. i threw a tiny stone (first few tries were too weak and i had to throw harder) not aiming to hit it but to make noise and scare it. no chance. it looked at the rolling stone and turned around to look at me with the least respect. i could tell it thought i was just a low class human being, ranked below this cat. shame.

in this drawing, i’m trying to trick cats into thinking, “wait a minute! am i a cat…? NO! i’m a DOG!”. and eventually every single living cat on the earth will be converted into dogs.

for some reasons, i don’t think this will work. but it’s worth a try.

this drawing will be included for sale on my online shop.

UPDATE: you can buy this drawing from my SHOP.

drain your brain

(click to view close up)

freshly drawn this afternoon. it’s been awhile since i’ve drawn in vivid colours. i think i’m liking it.

the kanji on the milk carton says yuki-jirushi, which means snow brand. that’s a japanese milk company that got into huge trouble a few years ago when many people around osaka got food poisoning from their low fat milk. paul was one of the first cases. interestingly, paul and i both drank from the same milk carton that day, but only paul got food-poisoning. he was really sick. later on, two men from the milk company came to the door of our apartment and apologized. they bowed very deeply and gave us a box of expensive japanese sweets. i felt bad that these two men had to apologize even though they didn’t do anything wrong.

the case was a big scandal in japan. 14,780 people got sick. you can read more about it here.

my drawing has nothing to do with the food poisoning scandal. i just like the design of the milk carton, and i’m used to since we always used to drink snow brand milk (before). my brain is very weak, like 0.1% milk.

japanese croquette (with recipe)


during the taisho period in japan, a popular song in the japanese opera was コロッケの唄(“song of korokke“), which goes like this: “korokke is an everyday dish, we eat korokke today and tomorrow. are we gonna eat korokke all year around?”. “korokke” is the japanese word for croquette, the popular french food that had just been introduced to japan. japan still has popular songs about new popular foods. the croquette boom is over, but japanese people still eat a lot of croquettes. you can find them in the grocery stores and convenience stores, and they’re often served as pub food in izakaya. everybody loves croquette.

as a kid, i was one of them. i used to take swimming lessons every saturday. afterwards, i would be starving, so my friends and i would go to a meat shop to buy croquettes. the butcher would fry up some croquettes for us. i think they were 50 yen each. so it didn’t hurt my small okozukai very much, but sometimes i had to debate in my head if i should spend my money on a croquette or save it to buy a cute pencil. the meat shop and the stationery shop were on the same block. well, you can’t fight with an empty stomach :)

i always liked croquettes, but i never made them myself until yesterday. i’d never had croquette in canada, and i don’t think i’d had one for at least six years. so i made it myself.

i then realized that i’m not such a big fan of croquettes anymore. the croquettes i made turned out pretty good and tasty, but after i ate one i realized croquette is just fried mashed potato with ground beef in it. i’m not a big fan of mashed potato, nor fried food, nor ground beef, either. hmm… at least i like onion.

anyway, the croquette wasn’t as tasty as i remembered. i guess you can never beat the food in your memory.

either that, or the butcher in my hometown just makes way better croquettes than me :D

i still enjoyed making the croquettes and serving them. i wrote paul’s name in japanese on them in ketchup. he was happy.


this is for 10 croquettes:

  • 2 potatoes (medium)
  • 100g ground beef
  • half an onion, chopped
  • nutmeg
  • bay leaf
  • flour, beaten egg, panko (japanese bread crumbs)
  • vegetable oil
  • s + p


  • ketchup + worchestershire sauce + red wine + grated garlic  (i just used ketchup)


  1. boil the potatoes with skins on.
  2. saute the onion. when it turns transparent, add the beef, nutmeg and bay leaf.
  3. when the potatoes are done, strain the hot water and mash them in a bowl. set aside.
  4. when the beef mixture is ready, damp it onto paper towel to soak up the extra grease.
  5. add the beef mixture to the mashed potato, mix lightly (do not overmix).
  6. move the mixture onto a plate and cool in the fridge.
  7. heat the vegetable oil in a pan. arrange the dipping station for flour, egg, and panko. i used tupperwares.
  8. divide the cooled mixture and shape into balls and flatten them. make sure there are no cracks or it’ll explode in the oil. it’s better to wet your hand with some oil so the mixture won’t stick to your hands.
  9. when the oil is heated to 170c (if you drop in some of the flour and water mixture and it drops to the bottom and comes back up, the oil is about 170c), dip the ball into flour, egg and panko. i use my right hand for dry ingredients and left for wet so that the panko doesn’t get stuck together with egg. that way, you can get a clean result.
  10. turn them when they’re golden brown. cook both sides.
  11. when fried, put them onto paper towl to soak up the extra oil.
  12. serve them with cabbage and tomato. cabbage is supposed to help you digest greasy food. i like rice on the side.

enjoy! (or not so much…)

rosemary panna cotta


i got some fresh rosemary from the farmers market last saturday. i remembered seeing a guy make a milky rosemary panna cotta on the food network one night. so i made my own last night, after midnight. that’s right, midnight cooking!

i was making obento for paul at the same time. usually people make obento in the morning, but i don’t like to rush (or get up early). i make a couple of small dishes so it takes some time.

cooking several things at once always makes me want to grow a couple of extra arms (like in this drawing). that way i could tackle multiple tasks at the same time. i could grow extra arms on my sides, but having extra arms on my back would be more helpful, because then i’d be able to cook up tamago-yaki on the stove while using my back arms to cut vegetables on the opposite counter. yes, my kitchen is that narrow.

speaking of extra arms, there are buddhist statues called senjyu-kan’non. “senjyu” means thousand hands. with some exceptions, usually senju-kan’non statues don’t have 1000 hands. they have 42 hands. the two hands praying are the true hands. the other 40 hands save 25 sufferings each, which makes 1000 hands. they’re beautiful. hands are special.

when i was little, a monk would come to my house to pray for my family’s ancestors. he was a very big old man with enormous earlobes and of course, a shaved head. he was a nice monk, but to me, at that time, he looked very strict and scary. for one thing, he was probably 6 feet tall and i was only 4 foot. my parents were both working, so usually my grandma and i were the only ones home. after prayers, my grandma would serve him a cup of tea. he’d bring some sweets and books to read for me. he would tell us some wise stories as well as a story about his son who was an american football player, a quarterback. he told us sadly that his son got severely injured during a game and was paralyzed. when he left, he would always pat my head with his big hand and give me cinnamon candies, which i hate. but i couldn’t say no.


rosemary panna cotta recipe

(for 4 small ramekins)

  • 2 cups low-fat milk (or any milk or cream you like)
  • one package gelatin (please follow the directions on the package)
  • one stalk fresh rosemary
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • a dash of vanilla essence
  • honey

warm 1 3/4 cups of milk in a milk pan. when it’s heated, add the rosemary and the sugar. in a different bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the remaining 1/4c of milk. add the dissolved gelatin to the warm milk. stir well and strain. pour into small dishes (ramekins) and chill. serve with honey.  enjoy ;)