Idiom of the Day

From: Japanese language


Pronunciation: “saru mo ki kara ochiru”

Literal meaning: Even monkeys fall from the trees

Meaning: “You can’t be the best all of the time”

English equivalent:  “everyone makes mistakes”, “no one is perfect”

Check out more idioms at


Useful Phrases in Japanese



  English is notorious for borrowing words from foreign languages in order to spice up daily speech or convey an idea that the English language hasn’t made a word for. Today, Sakura Publishing founder and CEO Derek Vasconi is sharing one such word with us that not only gets the point across much more efficiently than in English, but also adds some flavor to your conversations.  In Japan, people say “shoganai” whenever they are in a situation that is inescapable, or discussing some outcome that is inevitable.  For example, if your friend says that he didn’t study for today’s test and will likely not pass, you could respond “shoganai”.  It’s a very common phrase and used almost daily by Japanese speakers.  It is somewhat similar to the French “c’est la vie” (“that’s life”).

Recipe for Japanese Curry to Spice Up Your Summer

Silk Screen is pleased to welcome Derek Vasconi as a contributing writer to our blog. Derek is a musician, writer, and entrepreneur who founded his own publishing house, Sakura Publishing, that caters to first-time authors and helps to secure interviews, appearances, and press release for the authors. Derek also had avid interest in Japanese culture, language, and cinema, and his articles will focus on contemporary issues in Japan; tips for travelling and learning the language; scrumptious and less-known recipes, among many more.. If you would like to learn more about Sakura Publishing or Derek Vasconi, please check out his website:


If anyone has ventured to the land of the rising sun, there’s a good chance you probably had a bowl of curry. It’s one of the easiest meals to digest if you have Americanized taste buds. Even if you’re not American, the flavor is something that I feel anyone can enjoy. The recipe below will make up to 8 to 10 plates of Japanese curry. And if you are a leftover kind of guy or gal, this tastes great for days after it’s made. Enjoy!


Curry (sauce mix). You can buy this from anywhere that sells Japanese curry. I prefer  to use “Kokumaro Golden Curry,” Medium Hot blend. Amount you’ll need is 190g (approximately ¾ of a cup).

Chicken, beef, or pork, whichever you prefer 400g ( 1 lb). 

Onion 600g (1 1/3 lb)

Potato 300 g ( ¾ lb)

Carrot 200g ( ¾ cup)

Water 1200ml (5 cups)

Butter 1 teaspoon

Milk  4 teaspoons

Soy sauce 1 teaspoon

1 flat pan to cook the meat

1 big pot to cook all this yummy goodness in!



Ok, so you will need that big pot to start.

1.      Put your butter in the pot.

2.      Put your onions, carrots, and potatoes in the pot next. Be sure to dice up each one according to your liking.

3.      Heat on the stove until all vegetables are cooked well. I set my stove to about the middle of the dial, around 5 or 6, to cook the veggies.

4.      Chop up your meat to about thumb size pieces.

5.      Put your meat into the flat pan.

6.      Add a little salt and pepper to your meat…how much is up to you. If you like your meat extra salty, add extra salt, etc.

7.      Cool the meat until it’s brown and well done, according to your liking.

8.      Take the meat and put it in the big pot with the vegetables.

9.      Add water.

10.  Add milk.

11.  Add soy sauce.

12.  Cool on the stove at a low setting (I cook around 2 or 3 on our dial, sometimes even 1 if I have time to let it sit) for at least an hour. However, if you can, try to cook it for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you let it cook the better it tastes.

That’s it! When you’re finished, you’ll have an amazing home-style cooked Japanese curry!


If you would like to learn more about Derek Vasconi or Sakura Publishing, please check out his website:


Check out These 10 Superstitions From Asia!

In current times, many people avoid tradition and folklore in lieu of scientific evidence. While some superstitions may seem far-fetched or are rarely practiced, such as avoiding black cats or not rinsing your hair on exam day, these beliefs do offer insight into the history and traditions of different cultures. Check out these 10 cool superstitions from Asia, and please post any other superstitions (with country of origin) in the comment section below!

1.      The word “four” (si) in Chinese is considered unlucky, because if it is pronounced with a different tone, it means “death”  (Source: personal knowledge). The number 8 is considered a very lucky number, because its pronunciation is similar to the word for “lucky” or “fortunate”. In 2003, Sichuan airlines paid 2.3 million yuan in order to reserve the auspicious telephone number 8888-8888 (Source: Economic Times)


2.      In some parts of Bhutan, it is considered ill-fortune to sell needles or other sharp, pointy objects after sunset  because it will either shorten your life or cause a dispute (Bhutan Majestic Travel)

3.      If they awake from a bad dream, some Georgians will not speak to anyone until they have brushed their teeth. This is so that the badness from the dream can be cleaned away and the dream will not come true (Falkor ICY)


4.      Among the Sinhalese (an ethnic group that compromise about ¾ of Sri Lanka’s population) tt was once popular practice for the new born to be feed golden milk. Here, one would gently grind part of a golden object (such as jewelry) and then mix it with a mother’s breast milk. At a predetermined auspicious time, this is put on the baby’s tongue so that it will prevent disease and ensure a long life ( Folklore and Folkloristics)

5.      The name of the popular Kit Kat chocolate bar is similar to the Japanese phrase for “you will definitely succeed” ( “kitto katsu”). As such, many students will take a Kit Kat bar to a major exam for good luck, or eat one right before the exam starts. Due to its high popularity in Japan, there are over 80 flavors of Kit Kat available (source: Modern Tokyo Times)

6.      In Singapore, individuals may knock on the door of an unoccupied room before entering, so that they will not disturb any spirits that entered the room while they were gone ( Inquirer Lifestyles)


7.      It was once in poor taste to compliment babies in Thailand. It was believed that if you said a baby was adorable or lovable, evil spirits would harm the baby or take him away from his parents. Instead, you should remark on the baby’s poor looks and demeanor, so that the parents could keep the child and evil spirits would look elsewhere. To further ensure the baby’s safety, family members wold give children unsavory nicknames, such as “Pig” or “Fat”(Source: Chiang Mai City News)


8.      Some believe that if you meet a girl carrying a bucket of water or firewood on her back while you are on a journey of some kind, your mission will be successful. Some Bhutanese consider this to be a bad omen, and will immediately turn back if they encounter the girl (Bhutan: Ways of Knowing)


9.      For some Laotians, putting a sharp knife underneath your bed will keep away bad dreams and malevolent spirits (Southeast Asia Resource Action Center)


10.  Some Koreans refuse to wash their hair on the day of an important exam or presentation, as they fear it may rinse out important information and memories for the test (TOPICS Online Magazine)

Kuzuyu Will Keep You Warm and Soothe Sore Throats

Pittsburgh has been having quite the chilly streak for the past few days, and we need something to warm us up – so why not try kuzuyu, a warm Japanese beverage made from kuzu vine?        While this thick, syrupy beverage may not entice the eye, it will delight the palate and is often used as both as dessert and a remedy for sore throats and runny noses. Even better, this beverage takes just minutes to make ,and you should be able to find kuzu powder at your local specialty grocery store.


          1 tsbp. Sugar

          1 tsbp. kuzu powder

          1 cup hot water


1.      Boil the water in a tea kettle, and let cook while preparing the powder.

2.      Use a spoon to disintegrate any blocks in the kuzu powder. Kuzu powder is a starch, so whenever it comes in contact with moisture, it tends to thicken and stick together. It is easiest to mix it in if the powder is very fine.

3.      Pour the water in the kettle in a tall mug, and mix in kuzu powder and sugar.

4.      Stir until the beverage takes on a syrupy consistency.

5.      Enjoy!

For more on Kuzuyu and other Japanese cuisine, the following sites are a good start:

Japan Centre ( Where today’s recipe came from):

No Recipes:

Web Japan:

Check Out The Carnegie Museum’s Collection of Japanese Woodblocks and Ivories

Oakland’s Carnegie Museum of Art will house “Japanese is the Key…”: Collecting Prints and Ivories, 1900-1920 from now until July 21. The exhibition features fifty rare woodblock prints and ivory carvings from the Museum’s own collection, and from artists such as Hiroshige Ando and Utamaro Kitagawa.

If you want to learn more about the exhibit, check out the Carnegie Museum of Art’s homepage:

How Long Must You Train to Become a Fugu Chef?

If you want to be a professional fugu (blowfish) chef in Japan, it’s going to take you quite a few years before you start serving this infamous delicacy . Training for a fugu chef takes 7-10 years, a rigorous written exam, and an exam where he must successfully clean the poisonous fugu in front of more experienced fugu chefs.

 But what is there to fear about eating a blowfish? The skin, liver, and ovaries of the fugu blowfish contain the tetrodotoxin poison, for which there is no known antidote and which paralyzes the muscles, induces coma, and invariably leads to death. So just how intense is it? There are only a dozen certified fugu chefs in the U.S., while fugu is banned in the European Union. Japanese grocery stores must apply for a special permit to sell fugu, and even then they can only sell cutlets, not the entire fish.

If you want to learn more about fugu or Japanese cuisine in general, the following websites may be helpful:

Brigham Young University-Idaho Japanese Association Fun Facts:

KCP International:

Serious Eats: