Japan Actually

Japan ActuallyLast weekend on the campus of my university, the benefit event “Japan Actually” was held. With the raised funds, children who lost their parents due to the tsunami of 2011, will be invited over to Belgium, giving them a chance to rebuild their future.

The message board.

The message board.

I volunteered for this event, and it was really a lot of fun. We organized activities to promote the Japanese culture. Customers could enjoy Japanese food and drinks, listening to and watching Japanese performances, playing Japanese games, participating in workshops on calligraphy and origami, and so on. Blessed by the God of Heavenly Weather, it became a great success, with entries for over 700 people.

The Kendo club in action:

Kendo-preparationKendo performance

There were Japanese games and you could try a yukata 浴衣 on.

sisteryukataThe origami teacher and her followers were quite productive. There was a workshop calligraphy (shodō 書道), were you could have your name written in characters and afterwards try to write them yourself.

calligraphyWe served three kinds of food: Tonjiru 豚汁, Curry カレーライス and Okonomiyaki お好み焼き. Some people would wonder why there’s no sushi on the menu list, because that’s the most known Japanese dish. We wanted to promote the Japanese eating culture by serving daily like, easy to prepare, dishes. And sushi, in fact, is not a daily dish. Customers were given the recipes too, so they could try to make them at home. Hereby I share this valuable piece of information with you, dear reader:



  • tonjiru100g pork
  • half a gobo (burdock root)
  • half a carrot
  • quarter of a small daikon (Japanese white radish)
  • quarter of a bundle leak
  • half of a pack tofu
  • quarter of a piece konnyaku
  • 200g soy bean sprouts
  • 600ml water
  • 2 tablespoons of miso
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil


  1. Cut the ingredients in thin slices/pieces.
  2. Pour the sesame oil in a cooking pot, turn on the heat to medium and bake the meat. Once the color changes, you add daikon, carrot, gobo and konnyaku. To remove the smell, you can boil the konnyaku in water first.
  3. Add the water. Turn up the heat to high and skim the scum when it starts to boil. Then, turn it to low for 5-10 minutes until the ingredients get weak.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  5. If all ingredients are well cooked, add one spoon of miso. Adjust following your taste with another spoon of miso.
  6. Add sesame oil, and ready!

Facts for Fun

-Tonjiru is the name for the dish in Eastern Japan. In Western Japan and on Hokkaidō it’s called Butajiru 豚汁 (buta means “pork”). According to an enquire launched in 2004, 72% of the Japanese goes for Tonjiru, while 25% calls the dish Butajiru (seems like 3% never heard of the dish before?).

-The custom to use pork began in the Meiji period. What the origin of Tonjiru is, is not quite clear.



  • Kareraisu300-500g beef (carbonade)
  • 5 potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 100-120g Japanese curry roux
  • 600ml water
  • some salad oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • optionally: soy sauce


First of all: this is only for the curry itself. It is most likely to be served with rice, udon or bread, which is not included in the recipe.

  1. Cut the vegetables at bite size, and the meat in thin slices. Boil the potatoes before adding them to the curry.
  2. Pour the salad oil in a cooking pot, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and turn up the heat to high. Stir-fry the beef.
  3. Add the onion, potatoes and carrots.
  4. When fried well, add pepper, salt and the water. Skim the scum when it boils.
  5. Turn off the heat. Add the curry and mix it.
  6. Add the milk. Season to your liking with sugar, salt, pepper or soy sauce. Enjoy your meal!

Facts for Fun

– Curry is one of the most popular dishes today in Japan. Funny, because curry isn’t Japanese at all. It was introduced by the British, who got it from their colony India, during the Meiji period. Remember the post about hybridity? It’s the same here: the Japanese made western inspired food their national dish by adjusting the ingredients to their own taste.

– There’s variation in the meat: in Kansai beef is preferred, while in Kantō pork is common. Chicken is a possibility too. And that leads us to another important point: Japan is one of the most difficult countries to be vegetarian. During the event, some people who had bought food tickets, came to change it into an only entrance ticket because all dishes included meat. But later more on this topic.


The sake sold well too.


-The photos were taken by friends and family. Thank you!

-Delicious sites: Japanese cooking (English, video tutorials) and Cooking forest (Japanese, recipes).


2 thoughts on “Japan Actually

  1. Pingback: Gyōza, Jiaozi and Mandu | nippaku

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