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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Stamps Depicting Japanese Food

For those of you who still use snail mail—I do for E-bay purchases—or perhaps just for those of you who collect stamps as a hobby, Japan Post has some great-looking stamps.

For example, check out the stamp sheet: Traditional Dietary Culture of Japan Series No. 1 that, despite the protestations of the Asia Times, it did not JUST come out from Japan Post, rather it was issued on November 24, 2015.  Oh well… that’s why I like to double-check stuff… and even then, a triple-check… but sometimes, we all screw up.

The first series of 10 stamps—each issued at a ¥82 value (~ US$0.78) in the “Traditional Dietary Culture of Japan” series is said to feature the country’s most popular dishes and side dishes.
Let’s see if that is correct.

1. 栗ごはん - Chestnut Rice. This is the left stamp within the large upper part of the sheet
2. みそ汁 - Miso Soup. The right stamp within the large upper part of the sheet.
3. 天ぷら - Tempura - battered and deep-fried vegetables or seafood.
4. 白米と奈良漬け - White rice and pickles seasoned in sake lees... I don't know what the lees are... leeks? Bonito shavings? Anyone know? 
5. みそ汁とひじきの煮物 - Stew of miso soup and seaweed - Miso soup... let's just leave it at that.
6. 茶碗蒸し - Savory egg custard - that's what Google Translate says.. but I'm pretty sure this is Chawanmushi... and is an egg custard that is steamed in a cup, usually containing mushrooms or leeks or stuff like that.   
7. あじの干物 - Taste of dried fish - that's what Google Translate spit out... but it is a type of dried fish... horse mackerel, I believe.
8. 五目ごはんとぬか漬け - Gomoku rice and pickled bran
9. けんちん汁 - Kenchinjiru, a clear soup made with root vegetables and tofu.
10. かぼちゃの煮物と冷ややっこ - Pumpkin boiled and cooled and tofu. I believe this meal is called Shiraae... with a convoluted but essentially apt description above.

If you, the casual gaijin ex-pat or current-pat were to look at these meals on a stamp and wonder where sushi, sashimi, yakitori, tonkasu or fugu is, you wouldn't be wrong in asking WTF?

Yeah - where's the umeboshi (sour plum) on a bed or rice that looks like the Japanese flag that I ate pretty much every day as part of my school lunch and is on every single bento box ever made and purchased at a train station!

Where's the okonomiyaki? The shabu-shabu? The cold soba or hot ramen noodle dishes? Where's the natto? Where's the 7-11 onigiri?

You can look those up yourself, if you wish... but anyone who is anyone IN Japan has heard of these Japanese dishes and has enjoyed them.

I mean... aside from the Shiraae, and Dried Horse Mackerel, I am pretty sure I have eaten the rest and enjoyed them.

To me... everyone of these dishes is a 'side-dish' and not a full meal. Seriously... look at the portions! If you are like men and prefer to have your own popcorn bag when watching a movie, then you know the dishes pictured above are merely appetizers...

Still... it's a nice set No.1... I would assume there would be a second set at some point in time. I mean, why else add the "No.1" designation to the stamp sheet?

Anyhow... foodies rejoice… the only sad thing is that if you lick the back of the stamp, in my opinion the adhesive should taste like what is depicted on the front… and please keep in mind I am only talking about these food stamps, and not the one honoring prostitution in Japan. Patent pending. 

Sadly… these stamps lack that Michelin star flavor.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
Please note that there are other Japanese stamps depicting food.. these are just the latest ones issued.  

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