If you ask a student what he or she is having for dinner that night, the answer will more than likely be "Curry rice." I wish I had 100 yen for every time I've gotten that as a reply. Today, I got an email from Peter Payne of J-List (careful with that link... some of the product pics are for adults only), and in it, he talks about two interesting concepts here in Japan.
The first is "shinyo," which is trust. When you do business with someone, for example, a contractor remodeling your home, you create shinyo. If I'm understanding this correctly, it means an ongoing relationship based on never being charged more for a job than is reasonable. They want your business for life, so they're not out to rip you off... unlike in America, where they want the short term financial kick.
Isn't this a nice dish of curry? I don't know if I should eat it or hang
it on the wall. Since it's a photo, probably the latter.
But my favorite part of the update is where he writes about curry, probably because our students love curry so I hear a lot about it almost every week. Curry, as you probably know, is an Indian dish. If you don't know what curry is, it's gravy. Gravy with chopped vegetables on rice. Only unlike our popular soul food/country cookin' dish of rice and gravy in Georgia, curry is spicy. And probably healthier because it's not made with fried chicken grease and flour.
One aspect about Japanese culture is its ability to adopt something from abroad and really take it to heart. Baseball, for example (which is being replaced by soccer these days thanks to recurring World Cup fever), punk rock, the tv show 24, and curry.
There's a curry chain around here called Koko Ichiban (and in Hawaii!). It's like the International House of Curry, just a plain diner-style place that serves curry in various levels of spicy intensity. If I remember correctly, the scale runs from 1 to 10, with 10 being roughly the equivalent of pouring molten steel slag directly onto your tongue.
But curry is also a vastly popular meal to make at home. I suppose because it's easy to make, hearty and features rice, which is a staple here the way bread is back in the US. According to my research, you put the rice on the left side of the plate and the curry on the right. I don't know why, but it makes a neat presentation.
So if you want to try authentic Japanese homestyle food, I recommend you make curry.