The rainy season (tsuyu) started in mid-May for Okinawa and started last Friday for Kyushu, it's just a matter of time before we get our share here in Osaka, as it is slowly making its way up the chain of islands.
One way to tell that the rainy season is coming are with these flowers called tachiaoi. The weatherman once said that when you see this flower start to bloom, the rainy season has started and by the time the top flowers bloom, the rainy season will be in full-swing.
Tachiaoi is also called hollyhock. Archeologists thought that this flower is one of the oldest, since it was found about 60,000 years ago in the Neanderthal's graves, apparently as an offering to the dead in the Northern part of Iraq. This flower travelled the Silk Road to the Shisen Province of China, where it was propagated and before the Tang Dynasty it was called shokuki--the name which it is well-known by. In the Heian period in Japan, it was called karaaoi and then in the Edo period the name was changed to tachiaoi.
Changing the subject, there is a fruit called, amanatsu literally means "sweet summer", this citrus fruit is a yellowish-orange and thought to be derived from the pomelo (zabon). This fruit is mainly grown in Kumamoto (Kyushu) and Ehime (Shikoku).
I thought it would be sweeter, but it was quite sour, more like zabon...so I took the zest and put it aside for something I have planned (probably a new scone recipe...)--and decided to add sugar to the juice and make it into a sweet dessert.
Here's the recipe: (translated and adapted from the Japanese version)--original recipe by Kosuge Yoko
1 orange (1/2 cup juiced)
1/2 kiwi fruit (about 50g)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp powdered kanten (agar-agar)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grand marnier
1. squeeze juice from orange
2. peel kiwi and cut fruit into thirds lengthwise
3. in a pot, put the water and powdered kanten in and heat, when it starts bubbling, turn heat down and let simmer for 2 minutes, add sugar.
4. add lemon juice, orange juice, and grand marnier to the pot.
5. put everything into a long, narrow measuring cup and when the mixture has cooled a bit, add the kiwi vertically, put into the refrig.
6. take out from the cup and slice into 3.
Note: I didn't add the kiwi or the grand marnier. Also, since this recipe only serves 3, I doubled it and put the mixture into 6 little ramekins.
Extra stuff to ramble about: as I went to the grocery store today, I went past a construction area. About a month ago, they had built two houses, side-by-side. As I went past today, I realized that they were building ANOTHER house right in front of the two that were already there! Although this type of construction is really common here in Japan, I still haven't gotten used to the idea and cannot understand how these people buying the houses stand for it. I mean, if my houseplans show a window in the front of the house, I would think it should be functional, right? The big blue sheet is to protect the surrounding from dust and noise (how thoughtful), and the little driveway, is also the parking area for the house that is pictured at the end of the driveway!
As I was making my way home, I was crossing over a bridge and saw a couple of men looking down into the river. I also heard a very LOUD, ruu-mmuu, ruu-mmuu sound. I stopped to see what they were looking at and lo and behold! Huge frogs! Okay, my lens isn't that strong, so decided to draw in an arrow so you could see him. In Japan, these big boys are called ushigaeru--literally bullfrogs.
Hope you are keeping cool where you are, it is 30C (87F) here and HUMID here!