Eating Habit & Longevity

Wow, I am amazed by how my body, especially my leg muscles, has adjusted to this new & more rigorous fitness regime! In spite of the last practice being a lot harder than the previous ones, I felt much easier during the session and a lot less achy afterward. A prolonged stick-handling drill was a real killer for me. I could feel lactic acid building up in my arms. Still, the practice will definitely guarantee me to tone the upper arms and lift my butt by this summer. Therefore, I shall swear that I will attend it every week. Besides, seeing all the friendly faces at the ice rink is definitely worth a 45 minutes car drive across London…

Recent London seems to have stepped back into the mini-winter again. The sky has been overcast and swept by chilly wind. And it makes me crave for a bowl of steamy ramen noodle!
While mum & I were in Tokyo in last January, the city was grasped by a very cold weather system. It was exceptionally chilly by Tokyo’s standard and in spite of a hotel staff cranking up our room’s A/C to the maximum, we still felt not enough warmth.
‘Shouldn’t we line our stomach with something hot?’ So we grabbed our coats and paid a visit to a noodle bar in Hacchobori…

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Ta-dah, behold my Kimchi Miso ramen. It was certainly fiery and spicy as the colour of the broth suggested and helped me to feel toasty from the inside. The only minor complaint was the seasoning for being too salty? Since I hardly used any additional flavouring, especially salt, on my food usually when I was in the UK, I found some of the foods in Japan a little too salty for my liking.

The prefecture of Nagano, where my mum lives, is well-known for its residents’ longevity. The average life expectancy for both male and female, are well into their 80s. As a daughter, I am very glad that my mum lives in an environment where it encourages its residents to lead a healthy & long life. However, the majority of her generation, born between the 30s and 40s, went through the post war hardship which has resulted in their frugal attitude as well as discipline towards food and lifestyle…

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My mum’s Kenchinjiru (建長汁) – hearty vegetables soup with salmon roe on top – is one of my favourites. Diced Satoimo (里芋) – taro root, carrot, Daikon radish, Konjac, thinly sliced burdock (牛蒡gobo) & tofu were stirfried with sesami oil first, then shimmered in the pot with water and seasoned with soy sauce, mirin, sake and salt. Mum was extra careful not to season the soup too strongly so it was packed with “umami” from the vegetables alone.

While my 3 weeks holiday in Japan, I had a glimpse of modern Japanese eating habit. Comparing it with that of my mum’s generation’s, the younger Japanese’s diet seemed to be far more westernised and consisted of more commercially processed foods rather than home-cooking.
It is purely my private observation and therefore not a general consensus but the recession in which the Japanese are trapped since the early 90’s has changed the way they behave towards food. The immediacy of pleasure tasty foods provide has shifted the general public’s attention from what they own to what they eat. It’s almost like the drabness of recession fades or forgotten while one’s sensory system locks on a tasty morsel in the mouth – the solace sought in comfort eating. Whatever the reason the Japanese diners queue up for plates of towering pancakes or bowls of noodle large enough for 3 portions or tables for “eat as much as you can” style buffet, the eating habit as the rest of the world perceive to be the Japanese way of healthy lifestyle is changing.
While the materialistic obsession in the 80’s only hurt the individual’s bank balance, the present OTT comfort eating tendency will sure to develop to future general health problem. Already, a part of the Japanese children is reported to have diabetic conditions due to a diet heavy on carb and sugar. Comparing my mum’s generation who grew up with not enough food around, an environment in which the present younger generation exists is saturated with an insanely plentiful amount of tasty food. This reality makes me wonder how long the Japanese can flaunt their top place in a worldwide longevity table. Not only that, I am concerned that they will develop serious health problems in future if the present overindulgence continues.

Today’s lunch at my beloved Shoreditch Grind. A bowl of Feta & Falafel salad…

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The salad contained rocket, crumbly feta cheese, balls of falafel, red & yellow cherry tomatoes and pomegranate. The dressing was sweet with a hint of chilli. It was delicious.

And my flat white…

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Who can leave Shoreditch Grind without tasting their celebrated roast?

I feel much less tired now so try my best to update the blog more often and regularly…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

1 For Mum & 1 For Me

From Danchi-Do, I brought back a book for mum and an old magazine for me.

A book I bought for mum…

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This book about French antiques & vintages, was written by Asabuki Tomiko (朝吹登美子) who was the first author to translate the works of French novelist, Françoise Sagan, famous for her book, “Bonjour Tristesse” (1954)…

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My mum loves travelling, especially to overseas.
However, her lower back had started to trouble her 7 years ago and at one stage the pain got so unbearable, she nearly gave up all hopes of boarding airplanes ever again.
But being always a little fighter, instead of popping pain-killer and taking up a more sedentary lifestyle, she started to walk in a shallow swimming pool in order to get fitter and strengthen the muscles to support her lower back. Under the watchful eye of her physician, she stuck to her exercise regimen day in day out for 6 years and eventually, her back was well enough for a long-haul flight. She proved herself by holidaying in NYC last October and was over the moon about her achievement.
By being given a book of European vintage and antique market, she would be even more motivated to be fitter and healthier, I thought…

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I’ve invited her to London this June, by the way. I can hardly wait to zoom around the city with her!

The magazine I bought for myself was Kurashi no Techo (暮しの手帖)…

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This magazine was first published in 1953 and had been well-known and trusted by consumers for having no advertiser to fund their publication.
It contained a number of interesting essays and articles for women, especially targeting housewives – like Good Housekeeping magazine with no ads.

The copy I brought home was the spring issue, 1971…

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The article was about how to use frozen vegetables…

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During the 70’s, the speed of westernisation in the Japanese lifestyle was accelerated and as the result, the way people cooked their everyday food had changed too. Eating in the western-style became fashionable and desirable…

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I showed the copy to Hubbie too when I was back in London. Some of the layouts and graphics were refreshingly modern. We were impressed…

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I really moan on about the disappearance of used bookshops in London. Where have they all gone? I miss them so much…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Fit For Life…

Is it jet lag?
Ever since being back from Japan, I wake up very early and feel dead-tired in the afternoon. It has been affecting me so much that If I am not disciplined, I will climb into bed in no time and fall asleep instantly! Having said that, the time I open my eyes is nudging closer to more sociable hours every morning. Therefore, I should be truly back in UK, mentally & physically, very soon.

Thinking about one’s equilibrium, there was an occurrence which made me realise how important to keep your mind & body active in order to lead a healthy & fulfilling life.
It happened on one cold but dry evening in Nagano, I took my mum and aunt for dinner in downtown. Instead of ordering a cab, we decided to walk to the bus-stop on Daimon through Zenkō-ji since we needed to work up our appetite…

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On a way to Zenkō-ji, mum & I were shocked to discover how frail my aunt had become.
Despite the fact she was 3 years younger than mum, a sedentary lifestyle she had been leading for the past few years clearly took its toll. Her stride was a shuffle and her balance was precariously bad. ‘Shall we catch a cab?’, I was worried if she might stumble and hurt herself. Aunt paused and then expressed how dismayed she was about her own physical state, ‘I am so unfit!’
Unfortunately, there was no taxi or bus due to a traffic restriction around Zenkō-ji compound so we kept on walking slowly. Time to time, mum lent her elbow to aunt when they had to negotiate uneven & slippery parts of the promenade…

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Over the dinner, aunt vowed that she would amend her lifestyle for the sake of regaining fitness.
Unlike Tokyo’s or London’s, Nagano’s winter is harsh. The mercury in the city plunges the lowest amongst any other areas’ except Hokkaido. Therefore, it is not always easy to stick to one’s fitness regime, even for the one, fit as a fiddle.
During my stay in Nagano, I tried to go for a walk as often as the weather permitted. Donning a few layers of clothing and a pair of sheepskin insoles in my boots, I still had to steel myself against icy air every time I open the front door. With the winter climate being so inhospitable, I could understand why my aunt decided to stay indoor all day.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll find a way somehow’, aunt reassured me while sipping a small glass of sake. Concerned mum reminded her over and over how she must be patient but also diligent when it came to getting fit. She was worried if aunt would do too much too soon and hurt herself. Knowing her tendency to be reckless, mum’s apprehensiveness was perfectly legitimate.
Oh well, I shall give aunt a call time to time so I can check on her progress and also give my encouragement. Being fit & active physically as well as mentally is a key to our daily happiness and we all must thrive for it no matter how slow the progress may be…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Random Images & Random Thoughts…

It’s the sixth day of me not feeling good.
It turned out that I might have picked up some flu virus when I deposited Hubbie’s shirts at our local dry-cleaner last Tuesday. What a thing to pick up, huh?

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Anyway, this nasty germ wrecks havoc on my daily beauty routine – and given that it is imperative to stick to the routine in order to fend off an onslaught of aging, I still can’t face splashing my face with water and feel like a car wreck, rusting away on the mean street of a dingy backwater. It may sound too melodramatic but when one feels like it’s head full of gunk and has the look to match, and on top of it, it’s grey and raining outside, how can anyone feel anything other than dismal?
Oh, please someone slap me with a hot water bottle so I can snap out of this unhealthy navel-gazing…

Now then, shall I have another rummage through my iPhoto library for stray images?

Hmmm… This one I took at the Saturday vintage market off Brick Lane. The stall was specialised in vintage transport signs…

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Don’t you think it will make a wonderfully original gift for someone special if the road sign or bus blind given has a personal meaning to it? Let’s say they used to live there or they commuted vis a certain bus route or have some romantic connection to the destination, etc. I wouldn’t mind buying a couple of London Transport bus blinds for myself. The route 9, 10 or 159 would do nicely. Anything to evoke sweet memories of our good old original Routemaster, I would love to keep. Before boring & unyielding one-man buses took over London bus route, their iconic red double-decker was manned by a guard with a ticketing machine and the rear of the bus was completely open. The lower deck was semi-exposed to the element, therefore, it was a bit cold & blustery in foul weather. However, the convenience of being able to hop on & off whenever and wherever one wanted was an absolute godsend in some  serioulsly clogged up old place like Central London.

Oh, these are classic! Mr.B, working as a model…

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One day, Hubbie & I jokingly decided to register Mr.B with a model agency. We thought it may subsidise his upkeep. And it did!

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Being amiable and unflappable, Mr.B made a very good model for press ad or TV. And his stoic professionalism in chihuahua way earned him regular clients and a steady flow of assignments until the recession hit UK in 2008.
*ALAS*

This cute Pie & Mash sign, I came across on Lever Street EC1…

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Pie & mash is the one cuisine I have yet to sample. Since this type of eatery is in decline, I must try it before they disappear too.

I don’t know why I took this picture…

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It must have been taken at Eat, Topshop Oxford Circus when I was waiting for my friend before our girl’s night out?
I was probably a bit bored and fooling around with my iPhone camera. A perfect toy for killing time.

This street art by Wreckage International was located at the north end of Whitecross Street…

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I don’t know why but the art reminds me a Coca-Cola bottle.
Maybe to do with her curvy body or its red & white colour scheme?

This limo, hopelessly stuck at Hoxton Square, was quite a sight. He couldn’t manoeuvre left or right, foward or backward…

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The driver was red-faced and panicking while the rest of us, looking at him bemused. I was in a hurry and didn’t hang around. I hope he managed to wriggle out of the mess without scratching anything.

Oh my thoughts are so inconsistent and incoherent. Please blame the gunk invading my brain…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Stimulant

Caffeine does a weird thing to my system.
It was rather naughty but I had dark chocolate covered dates with a mug of Darjeeling tea as breakfast (!) this morning.
Then, I resumed my household chores – putting away laundry, clearing away the clutter in the kitchen, etc – and noticed I was doing silly things all over the place.
Like, opening a drawer for socks while I was putting away knickers…
Instead of whipping up my brain into a super-efficiency mode, too much caffeine in a short burst has confused it.
Oh well, I must be careful next time. However, the chocolates were so tasty. I mustn’t bring it home again.
Otherwise, I would gorge on them and it would keep me awake all night long…

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