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life is short. it’s not to be wasted.

“gondola song”:
life is short, fall in love, maidens.
before the crimson colour fades away from your lips.
before the tides of passion cool within you.
for there will be no tomorrow.

from the movie “ikiru (to live)” by director kurosawa akira.

this is my favorite scene of all time. the actor, shimura takashi, portrays watanabe, who works at a city office for thirty years without passion. everyday just passes without purpose. one day, he finds out that he has terminal stomach cancer and only six months to live. he regrets that he has wasted his life and decides to do something good for society in the time he has left. he is determined to help a group of working-class mothers get a playground built. without telling anybody that he has terminal cancer, he dies alone in the snowy playground…

i heard a rumour a couple years ago that there was a plan to remake ikiru, with tom hanks in shimura’s role. i hope that plan was trashed, because they are wasting their time.

if you haven’t seen the original, make sure you do.

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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…)

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sakamoto kyu 9

this song is called “let’s walk looking up” (“ue o muite arukou”). it was re-titled “sukiyaki” in the west because it was easier to pronounce. i guess it could have been “teriyaki” or “wasabi” for convenience. after all, life is all about food for japanese people. super terrific idea! i’d like to carry on this tradition and rename an american song for the japanese market. maybe “love me tender” will be more popular with its new title: “bacon double cheeseburger“.

let’s walk looking up
so my tears won’t fall
i recall, one spring day
a lonesome night

let’s walk looking up
counting the blurry stars
i recall, one summer day
a lonesome night

happiness is above the clouds
happiness is above the sky

let’s walk looking up
so my tears won’t fall
i walk as i cry
a lonesome night

i recall, one autumn night
a lonesome night

sorrow to the shadow of the stars
sorrow to the shadow of the moon

let’s walk looking up
so my tears won’t fall
i walk as i cry
a lonesome night

a lonesome night

(my translation from original song in japanese)

lyrics by ei rokusuke 6
music by nakamura hachidai 8

kyu-chan (sakamoto kyu) was killed in an airplane crash in 1985. he was only 44.

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akashiya no ame ga yamu toki
(when the rain of acacia ceases)

beaten by the rain of acacia
i just want to have my life be over
dawn breaks, the sun rises
in the light of morning
i wonder if he will shed tears
when he finds me cold…


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how cool is this theme song!

“yokai ningen bem” was my favorite animation when i was little. the title “yokai ningen” means monster human (yokai is pronounced “yoh-kai”.)
it was aired between 1968 ~ 1969. i wasn’t born at that time, but i watched re-runs. i really liked this great opening theme and the darkness of the story. especially the part in the theme song saying, “i want to become a human soon! (gasha~~n) ” stuck in my mind. powerful.

the main characters are bem, bera, and bero. they were born out of one cell in the dark and soundless world. they’re not a family. nobody knows where they were born. they are not humans, nor animals. they are monster-humans, who couldn’t become true humans. despite their monstrous appearances, blood of justice is running in their bodies!

they end up finding a big port city at the end of asia. in the city with a long history and culture, humans are foolishly destroying its beautiful nature. they notice a sinister atmosphere, so decide to stay. they fight against monsters that will attack humans.

sometimes, they find out some humans are actually dirtier than monsters. sometimes, they are abused by the humans they have protected just because they are ugly monsters. even then, they don’t cease to fight against monsters in order to protect humans. in their hearts, there’s only one belief: if they continue to do the right thing, someday they’ll be able to become humans….

the darkness really got me. i found it very attractive to live in the shadow and to suffer from unfortunate destinies. it didn’t strike me as just a scary horror animation. the story was really unfortunate and touching.

nowadays japanimation is very popular in north america. that’s nice, but i loathe anime that characters have big shiny eyes and incredibly long legs, like this or this. i i find it really really annoying and disturbingly ugly… it makes me want to scoop my eyeballs out and soak them in bleach for a couple of days.

hayao and tezuka forever.


we live hiding in the dark
we are monster humans
our beast-like bodies that we can’t show to humans

“i want to become human soon!”
blow away our dark destiny
“bem, bera, bero!” (gasha~~n)
yohkai ningen

by the way, the phrase “i want to become human soon” is “hayaku ningen ni naritai” in japanese. just another useful japanese phrase to remember :)

director: noboru ishiguro
song: honey nights

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