Serve your Guests a Japanese Christmas Cake this Year

Image Credit: bit.ly/1gs5Gga

Image Credit: bit.ly/1gs5Gga

Believe it or not, a Christmas cake is a typically Japanese concept. In fact, it is necessary to have a Christmas cake, on the day of Christmas, in Japan. The Christmas cake was said to become popular in Japan during the 1970’s.

It is believed that the first Christmas cake in Japan was made way back in 1910. However, back then, it was just a simple plum cake decorated with silver balls and fondant. Later, in 1922, a short cake was introduced instead of a plum cake. After that, the Christmas cake in Japan was associated with a short cake.

From 1965, Christmas was a largely celebrated event or festival in Japan and a Christmas cake became an essential item on the dining table of every family during the event. However, the trend became more popular after 1970. At first, the Christmas cake type was sponge covered with butter cream but as time passed people use fresh cream, chocolate cream and even ice cream on the cakes. If you want to know how to bake a Japanese Christmas cake, here’s how:

Ingredients (Sponge Cake)

• 1 Cup All-purpose Flour
• 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
• 2 eggs
• ½ Cup of Milk
• 2 Tablespoon of Butter
• 1 Cup of Sugar

Method

First, take two eggs; they must be at room temperature. Then, grease a round nine inch cake tin. After this, mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl and keep it aside. Pre-heat the oven at around 350°. Take an electric mixer and at high speed, beat the eggs for around four minutes. Use a timer for this as this sets the texture of the cake.

After this, pour in the sugar little by little as you beat the eggs, this time keep the mixer on medium speed. Beat this mixture for five minutes, again, use a timer. After this time, the mixture will become frothy and light. Then, take the butter and milk in a pan and heat it till the butter melts, add this mixture to the eggs and add the flour and baking powder mixture as well.

Combine everything together properly till smooth and pour it into the cake tin. (You can also add a few drops of vanilla essence or extract in the if you think the egg smell is too much to handle)

Place the tin in the middle of the oven and bake for around 20 to 25 minutes. After this, to check if the cake is done, put a tooth pick or knife into the centre, to see if it comes out clean. Then, let it cool.

Image Credit: bit.ly/18FEjuk

Image Credit: bit.ly/18FEjuk

For the cream icing, whip together, three or four tablespoons of powdered sugar, two cups of heavy cream and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whip till it becomes stiff. As soon as it is done cover loosely with plastic and refrigerate till used. Ice the cake only once it cools otherwise the icing w ill melt.

Slice the cake in half but if you are using two cakes then this won’t be necessary. Place one layer and cover the top with whipped cream and smooth it out. Arrange some fresh strawberries on it. Place the top layer carefully on it and cover it with cream. Cover the entire cake, top and sides, with cream and smooth it out. On top you can place some fresh strawberries or marzipan or chocolate, and it will be ready to serve.

Try this Japanese Christmas cake this year and see your family enjoy their Christmas meal. You can also serve it on Christmas Eve.

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The Kyushu Seven Stars: Aiming to Rival the World’s Most Luxurious Train Journeys

Japan’s first all-new high-tech luxury sleeper train was launched recently. The Kyushu Seven Stars coasts through the beautiful landscapes of southern Japanese island of Kyushu.

Picture Source : bit.ly/19DglMF

Picture Source : bit.ly/19DglMF

Aimed to rival the world’s best luxury train journeys like the Ghan and the Orient Express, the Kyushu Seven Stars has been built with precise perfection and aesthetics. The hand-crafted woodwork and fine art throughout the train give a luxurious and timeless feel to the passengers on board. The musician, magicians and train staffs have been given the pre-launch training for almost a year. Everything comes at a cost of three billion yen, around £20 million.

The Japanese national media lined up at the platform on the morning of departure to film the first journey of train and the fortunate foreigners on board. The luxury train does not accept the registration for the next six months, as it is completely booked. A bunch of European journalists also experienced the launch trip of the luxury train.

Picture Source: bit.ly/1gNaOKi

Picture Source: bit.ly/1gNaOKi

The president of Kyushu Railway Company, Koji Karaike was quite enthusiastic over the launch trip and the features of trains. The train features ceramic sinks influenced from Satsuma porcelain, showers inspired by aromatic hinoki cypress wood, shoji and bamboo blinds and Japanese paper screens.

It was on the insistence of Eiji Mitooka, the designer of train, that such details were given to the train to make each coach seem different. Mr Mitooka was present on the platform while the Seven Stars pulled out.

The Seven Stars features with two luxury suites and 12 en-suite rooms. The occupancy of the suites was decided amid the tense moments through a lottery.

While on the journey on board, travellers were stunned with the sight of splendid green light of rice paddy fields, the volcanic landscape from the ornately-carved bed with Japanese maple.

Kyushu is an exotic place to excite you and if you are on the train’s itinerary, there is a lot packed in. The Seven Stars cover two different routes, the short and the long one. You are offered numerous outings on both the trips. In one of the outings, you are offered a walk on the largest volcanic caldera in the world near the green and fertile terrain of Aso.

Picture Source: bit.ly/17vkW35

Picture Source: bit.ly/17vkW35

On the longer route, you are offered to spend a night in a traditional Japanese inn or ryokan. The real magic of Kyushu comes alive at the ryokan. The stone paths leading to the wooden houses have a humble vibe. Inside the ryokan, floor is covered with traditional tatami mats and yukata cotton robe offered to all.

The foods in Kyushu are dainty and often decorated with flowers and twigs of maple. Besides taste, texture and appearance are equally elegant. One can taste the some of the best beef and fish at this place.

Overall, the experience at Kyushu Seven Stars is wonderful. The island of Kyushu is itself a wonderful place with abundant volcanoes and bubbling with greeneries.

Plan Your Trip to Japan Before Visiting

If Japan is the next holiday destination high up in your agenda, keep in mind a few things to avoid embarrassment on your part. Here are a handful of tips which can prove handy during your stay in the land of rising sun and make your trip pleasurable.

Behaviour of Japanese People

Respect the People

It is very important that you show respect to people in Japan. They generally greet and apologise to each other by bowing heads. This is an intrinsic value of theirs. Since the childhood, Japanese people are taught to respect their elders and guests. Talking to people politely and behaving in courteous manner is important to show respect to the people.

Photo Source : bit.ly/17FxndW

Photo Source : bit.ly/17FxndW

Table Manners

Japanese people follow particular and meticulous table manners and etiquettes. It is important to know that do not pour the beverage in your glass and start gulping down straight away at the parties. They always raise a toast before sipping their drinks. So, after taking a seat, let the waiters or waitresses do their job. They will give you an osdhibori, a small wet towel, to wipe your hands. It is imperative that you are aware of all the table manners before dining with Japanese people.

Photo Source : bit.ly/1bld8aZ

Photo Source : bit.ly/1bld8aZ

Tipping is a strict no in Japan

Tipping the attendants at bar, restaurant, hotel or taxi is considered bad manner in Japanese society. You should keep in mind that your ignorance can cause embarrassment to the person before you.

Photo Source : bit.ly/145enZl

Photo Source : bit.ly/145enZl

Using Chopsticks

Whether you go to any restaurant or have been invited at someone’s home for dining, you will notice that food is served with chopsticks. However, if you do not know how to use chopsticks, you can ask for silverware at the restaurants.

Photo Source : bit.ly/171RrVE

Photo Source : bit.ly/171RrVE

Entering a House

Taking off shoes and other footwear at the entrance of house is an age old custom in Japan. Almost every house keeps a vestibule, where footwear is kept, at the entrance. You may be given home slippers to wear inside the house but remember to take off the home slippers before entering the tatami room or dining area. There are still some old companies and offices where you have to take off shoes before entering.

Photo Source : bit.ly/137u67w

Photo Source : bit.ly/137u67w

Order and Harmony

Japanese people are very much strict in maintaining the order and harmony of society. Individualism does not find a favour in the Japanese society. You will be impressed by seeing people refraining from the usages of cell phones at public places. They avoid eating while commuting and do not blow their nose before others. There are many other habits considered as ill manners by the Japanese people.

Photo Source : bit.ly/166JGkg

Photo Source : bit.ly/166JGkg

So, before you catch a flight to Japan it is important to go through a few blog about Japan. Some of the blogs from Japan provide you complete information on the Japanese culture, their lifestyle, places to visit, Japanese foods, etc. By reading these blogs, you will be able to plan a pleasurable trip to Japan.

Get an Insight into the Japanese Culture through a Blogger’s Eye

The Japanese culture is regarded to be one of the richest cultures in the world. The Japanese culture is a perfect mix of the conventional and modern. Japan is known as the land of the rising sun and this island country is known to boast of a hybrid culture that is influenced by Asia, Europe and North America. The Japanese language is characterised by a distinct pitch system and a vast variety of dialects. The written Japanese language is regarded to be one of the toughest languages of the world.

As said earlier that the Japanese culture has a distinct rich flavour therefore they have a distinct way of celebrating the arrival of the New Year. The Japanese consider that the arrival of the New Year is needed to be marked by welcoming the Year God known as Toshugami in Japanese. Orgianlly, New Year in Japan was celebrated with the sun going down of 31st December. They used to believe that the daytime is for humans and night is for gods.

Happy New Year in Japan

Traditionally, the Japanese start preparing for the New Year celebrations with cleaning their house. It usually used to take place on 13th of December. But today since everyday is busy, they do it a little later. The important thing however is that they clean well. This is done in a careful and proper way because they believe that they are welcoming God in their house. The cleaning starts from the Shinto shrine to the Buddhist altar and finally to the main bedroom and other rooms. After cleaning they are known to decorate the house as well. But remember that the entire purpose for doing all this is primarily to please God.

If you want to buy something online from Japan then there is a strange thing that you will face. Well, if you do not have adequate cash then you will need to make use of your credit card since they do not accept debit cards online. To order something online, you need to only make use of your credit card therefore.

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The Japanese food and eating culture is interesting as well. To keep your energy up in humid weather you can try out fermented food like Miso, Soy Sauce, Natto and Shio-Koji. In the hot weather you can also go for food like ochazuke. In the Japanese departmental store that is popularly known as Depachika you will find an amazing selection of ready meals, cakes, fresh food, fresh food, products from all across Japan and a lot more.

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It is true that the more you explore Japan the more amazed will you be. The best way to know Japan is through a related blog about Japan and Japanese culture. Therefore, go online, select a blog and there you have Japan within the four walls of your living room.