I totally forgot to mention this here, sorry! I had an article a couple of weeks ago in The Japan Times, published back on March 24, about the role onigiri may be playing in Japan right now, especially in disaster areas. To quote myself:
But above all, onigiri are comforting and familiar, speaking straight to the heart of eater and maker alike. Especially in the case of onigiri being made for the hungry quake and tsunami survivors, there is love in every bite. They are Japanese soul food.
Long time readers may recall the Healing power of an umeboshi onigiri post I had here in February. My Japan Times article was partly inspired by Yumiko Kano's account of how a simple rice ball helped to get her back on her feet emotionally (I actually had a bit about that in the original draft for the article, but it got cut for space reasons.) In the middle of all the devastation, it has been heartening to see onigiri in action.
I've actually seen some reports that some people at the evacuation shelters are complaining a bit about the monotony of the meals. It seems they are getting a lot of onigiri, tonjiru (a kind of pork and vegetable soup) and curry. Some elderly people are losing their appetites because of this. If people are feeling comfortable enough to complain about the content of their meals, I'd like to optimistically take that as a sign that things are slowly getting a little better up there.
To finish off this short post, here's a sign of "normal" down here in Yokohama....a very spring-like takeout bento I had the other day. Beautiful, isn't it? I'd never attempt such an elaborate bento myself, so it's nice to be able to buy such a gorgeous thing to eat.
Life in Japan is certainly not back to its usual peaceful, fairly worry-free state for everyone, especially in north-eastern Honshu, but it is slowly getting there.
(The Bento4Japan auctions are still in full swing! Tons of great bento items are up for grabs, including two copies of The Just Bento Cookbook! Winners of the books will, if they request it, get personally signed letters or cards from me. ^_^)
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