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drain your brain

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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.

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vermillion pleasure night is a japanese tv show directed by yoshimasa ishibashi, avant-garde director from kyoto, japan. vermilion pleasure night is an omnibus show, which was aired on tv tokyo on sunday midnight starting 2000. once again, yoshimoto kogyo, the king of comedy agency produced it. the show became a huge hit throughout japan. it’s kitschy and full of dark humour. i love it. now the shows are available on dvd. now i can watch them in north america! banza~i.

this “utau 6-nin no onna” is one of his short films. the title means “six women, who sing”. it sounds better in japanese. i like the use of kanji for “utau (sing)”. there are five ways of writing “utau” in kanji – 歌う 謡う 詠う 謳う 唄う. the first “歌う” is to sing from your throat rhythmically. the second “謡う” is to sing by developing your voice with melody. the third “詠う” is to sing / read a poem. the fourth is to sing in a suppressed voice with intonation as you bend your body. the last one, “唄う” is a transliteration from Sanskrit. it’s used when anything non-human creates a pleasant sound or beautiful voice. for example, “a bird sings” or ” a stream sings”. when it’s used in a noun form, it means folk song. for the title of this piece, the choice is the last one, “唄う”. it gives a nostalgic tone to this piece, yet this whole thing is absolutely modern. i love the ambivalence. it’s post-post modern.

i’m a slave for this sort of languid ambiance. i just think he’s brilliant.

i persistantly continue to wash
stain, i can’t get rid of
my fingers, cracked and swollen
my fingers, stung by cold water

on a windy day like this, my clothes might be blown away
but a warm day will come
a bright day will come


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if you were born in the kansai area of japan, chances are you have a takoyaki pan at home. when i was little, my grandma or my mom used to make me and brother takoyaki for lunch on saturdays, after morning school.

takoyaki are dumplings made with batter, octopus, pickled ginger, tenkasu, and green onion. they’re usually topped with a barbecue sauce, shaved dry bonito flakes, mayonnaise and ao-nori (green seaweed flakes). we eat them with toothpicks. people in tokyo use chopsticks. that’s a no-no.

takoyaki was invented in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). there’re many takoyaki vendors throughout japan. takoyaki stands can be found at any japanese festival, always ready to serve. each region has its own unique variation on takoyaki, whether it’s sauce, ingredients or the way of cooking. for example, in osaka takoyaki is topped with a thick sauce, almost like a bbq sauce made with worcheshireshrehshioeaohfds sauce, ketchup and sugar. in akashi (hyogo prefecture), they’re served with soup. apparently, some people in kansai eat takoyaki with rice. i think that’s disgusting. i never eat takoyaki like that. carb plus carb? i don’t think so. it’s as bad as yakisoba pan(noodle sandwich).

during the 1990s, takoyaki shops from kyoto and osaka expanded to shibuya, the most fashionable area of tokyo. of course, kansai (kyoto and osaka) is culturally superior to tokyo, so this created a “takoyaki boom” in tokyo. when something “booms” in tokyo, it soon spreads everywhere in japan. soon, the takoyaki idea expanded too, and there were all sorts of takoyaki and octopus themed products.

there were songs about takoyaki, takoyaki-shaped tissue boxes, takoyaki towels, takoyaki mirrors, books about takoyaki, takoyaki key holders (and another version), takoyaki-flavored snacks, takoyaki stationery, tako-shaped cakes, takoyaki lollipops, and takoyaki necklaces. these items have been collected by a takoyaki specialist — kumagai mana from kyoto (she claims to be the only takoyaki-ist in the universe). takoyaki all over the place!

now you know why i needed to get away from japan.

i wasn’t that crazy about takoyaki. but when i came to canada, i made a clear point not to forget to bring a takoyaki pan with me.

my recipe might offend some serious takoyaki lovers from osaka, because i didn’t use octopus. octopus (“tako”) is really pretty important in takoyaki (“grilled octopus balls”). paul is “allergic” to seafood, so i used tofu, corn, cheese and turkey coldcuts instead. i didn’t have pickled ginger or tenkasu. i didn’t even have mayonnaise (i love japanese mayonnaise but i don’t like to keep it at home because i use it like crazy — not so good for my figure).

the only normal ingredients i used were flour, green onion, and ao-nori. everything else i faked. so this isn’t takoyaki, but “nanchatte takoyaki” (pseudo-takoyaki).




  • flour 75g (1/3c)
  • skim milk powder TB1
  • baking powder tsp 1
  • sugar tsp 1
  • salt tsp 1/4
  • soy sauce tsp 1
  • soup stock 300cc
  • egg 1

sauce (make up your own proportions):

  • worchestershire sauce
  • ketchup
  • sugar


  • octopus cubes
  • green onion
  • pickled ginger
  • dried baby shrimp
  • or anything you want (i used corn, cheese, tofu, and turkey)

(for best results, let your batter “rest” overnight)

  1. pour the batter in your hot takoyaki pan
  2. sprinkle your ingredients, making sure you get at least one of each in each takoyaki
  3. once the bottom is cooked, use a long wooden skewer to score the edge (run it around the rim of each circle) and flip it over. the uncooked batter will run down to the bottom and form the 2nd half of the ball.
  4. remove the cooked takoyaki
  5. brush with sauce. add mayonnaise. sprinkle ao-nori.
  6. serve with two toothpicks (important!)
  7. enjoy!!


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