Incredibly, it survived, considering the number of earthquakes in Japan.
Before Japan’s modernization, women of each and every household were tasked with what is possibly one of the most difficult crafts in the world of culinary arts—rice cooking .
They washed rice and let it sit in the water so it would absorb moisture. They poured it into a pot large enough to feed a family spanning three generations. The precise amount of water added was determined by the rice’s age and degree of refinement.
With too little water, the rice would burn. With too much water, the result would be an aspiring porridge.
They made a fire under the pot and sealed it with a heavy lid. But the flame had to be kept modest at first to heat the entire pot. Then, the fire needed to be strengthened so the water would boil and cook the rice.
But a few moments after vapor was witnessed from between the pot and the lid, they withdrew firewood swiftly so that the remaining embers would help the rice receive an appetizing, glossy coating.
The rule of thumb was to never, ever leave the pot unattended while cooking rice, even if they heard their babies cry. They had to tell when to take the next action by listening to the sound of rice boiling inside and the way the vapor rose. Opening the lid to look inside would let the vapor pressure go and render the rice a failure.
Skilled housewives were able to create a crispy brown scorch on the outermost layer of rice (like a creme brulee) by doing everything above at the right time, based on years of experience.
When the skills of the wife exceeded that of the mother, the family’s rice scoop was handed down to the next generation, indicating that she was the new boss of the house.
If you own a modern Japanese rice cooker, it does a perfect job thanks to reflecting centuries of collective rice-cooking experience of Japanese women in history . いただきます Itadakimasu!
Woodblock print by YOSHIDA Hiroshi (1876 - 1950).
Gunkanjima Island - Nagasaki, Japan.
Once the most densely populated place in the world, this island is now a ghost town.
FEW PLACES IN THE WORLD have a history as odd, or as poignant as Gunkanjima’s.
The tiny, fortress-like island lies just off the coast of Nagasaki. The island is ringed by a seawall, covered in tightly packed buildings, and entirely abandoned - a ghost town that has been completely uninhabited for more than forty years.
In the early 1900s, Gunkanjima was developed by the Mitsubishi Corporation, which believed - correctly - that the island was sitting on a rich submarine coal deposit.
For almost the next hundred years, the mine grew deeper and longer, stretching out under the seabed to harvest the coal that was powering Japan’s industrial expansion.
By 1941, the island, less than one square kilometer in area, was producing 400,000 tonnes of coal per year.
And many of those working slavishly in the undersea mine were forced laborers from Korea.
Even more remarkable than the mine was the city that had grown up around it.
To accommodate the miners, ten-story apartment complexes were built up on the tiny rock - a high-rise maze linked together by courtyards, corridors, and stairs. There were schools, restaurants, and gaming houses, all encircled by the protective seawall.
The island became known as “Midori nashi Shima,” the island without green.
Amazingly, by the mid-1950s, it housed almost six thousand people, giving it the highest population density the world has ever known. And then the coal ran out.
Mitsubishi closed the mine, everyone left, and this island city was abandoned, left to revert back to nature.
The apartments began to crumble, and for the first time, in the barren courtyards, green things started to grow. Broken glass and old newspapers blew over the streets. The sea-breeze whistled through the windows.
Now, fifty years later, the island is exactly as it was just after Mitsubishi left. A ghost town in the middle of the sea.
Flood the mine
The island look like a massive battleship.
When I first saw the pic, I thought it was Alcatraz. It does look like a battleship.
I can’t imagine how difficult it is to bring building materials. After all, we are talking about significant buildings and not tiny houses.
Burger King in Japan has the King Yeti Burger. It’s 4 1/4 pound burgers 8 slices of gouda cheese, with grilled onions, and a Caesar salad-style dressing that’s heavy on the Parmesan cheese, and pickles. Served on a toasted bun. All for 2,000 yen, or about $20.
Why is everything cooler in Japan?