Saturday, February 26, 2005

Thoughts on Kaleidoscope and Sugar Blues

I have only been macrobiotic for two years now, so there is a lot for me to read and learn. I go through phases of reading voraciously whatever I can get my hands on and then setting things aside for a while to let it all percolate. Right now, I am just through the beginning of Kaleidoscope by Herman Aihara and was struck by one of his essays entitled, Yin Syndrome, written in 1979.

It starts out by discussing the fear of nuclear radiation. At the time this article was written, many people feared the effects of nuclear radiation, especially with what happened at Three Mile Island. Aihara calls this fear a yin syndrome. Some studies suggest that an increase in cancer is caused by very low levels of radiation the come from wristwatches, microwave ovens, nuclear mining, and power generating operations.

However, he suggests that we have no reason to fear the effects of radiation if we follow a balanced macrobiotic lifestyle. The main cause of the fear (kidney imbalance) AND the physical effects of radiation are caused by our diet.

He says the main causes of both the fear and illness come from (p.30):

--sugar and sugared foods
--refined foods, especially grains
--chemical additives, colorings
--animal foods (especially grown with hormone feeds)
--vinegar, spices, coffee
--soft drinks, beer, wine, all other alcoholic drinks.

He wrote that when we eliminate these foods from our diet, we eliminate the mental and emotional plague of nervousness, worry, passivity, introversion, spaced-out behavior, lack of concentration, lack of memory, and slow decision-making. We also prevent modern illnesses.

While still on the topic of sugar and refined foods, I recently read Sugar Blues by William Dufty. In his book, he suggests that throughout history, the use of sugar has been the cause of civilization’s decline. To give a few examples, nations who ate sugar were eradicated, slavery started, the black plague killed thousands, and the Salem witch trials occurred. He suggests that sugar is a powerful drug like any other and questioned why people tend not to see the substance in this way? In America, people are up in arms about drugs. Drug use conjures an image of some dirty and dangerous American street with some weird adult peddling heroin, speed, or marijuana. Or perhaps it conjures an image of a dangerous man breeching the safety and comfort of the suburbs…? But people just don’t seem to mind if they themselves, or if their kids, get their hit from the vending machine. The vending machine is Dufty’s idea of a modern drug pusher. And the candy, chip, and soda machines are ubiquitous. Even cigarettes, he says, have sugar in them.

But like Aihara wrote, eating sugar can make you passive, docile, and perhaps unwilling to question authority. Hegemonic corporations thus keep us firmly addicted and rake in lots of profit.

When I read this book, I felt that being macrobiotic is more than just for my health. Not eating sugar is also a political statement that I oppose the current power structure of my country. It would be interesting to know if people ate less sugar in the ‘60’s around the time of the sexual revolution? At that time, people were questioning the powers that be, protesting the Vietnam war, and working actively for a more peaceful world. On a certain level that is still happening today, but progress seems stalled. Perhaps if more people ate less sugar, George Bush could have been defeated, and we would not experience such apathy as we have now? We can change the world just by changing ourselves.

Healing Your Kidneys

Speaking of kidneys, my great friend and incredible cook, Reni, who is in Switzerland at the moment is going to cook for a shiatsu workshop. The theme of the shiatsu workshop is “Healing Your Kidneys.”

On that note, foods that heal your kidneys are:

Miso or tamari soup
Azuki or black beans
Buckwheat, barley, and oats
Pressure cooked rice or millet
Buckwheat soba noodles
Kombu, sea palm, or hijiki
Winter squash/pumpkin
Greens and roots
Pickles and lightly salty condiments
Low fat baked desserts

Sample kidney menu ideas are:

Fu and broccoli soup
Pressure cooked hatomugi and barley (or rye) with sautéed vegetables
Sweet and sour seitan
Chestnut or squash twists
Sweet rice with chestnuts
Brown rice with lotus seeds
Brown rice with buckwheat
Kasuziru (Miso with sake lees)
Baked tofu sandwich
Boiled salad
Azuki beans with chestnuts and raisins
Pan fried soba noodles
Deep fried rice balls
Millet croquettes with vegetables
Soba noodle soup
Dried tofu nishime
Azuki bean and vegetable soup
Baked beans
Deep fried fu
Stew with fu
Black soybean stew
Kinpira gobo
Azuki bean brownies

Let’s remember the daikon hip bath for healing kidneys too.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A matter of perspective

People are disturbed not by things, but the view they take of them.


Macrobiotic Movies

Could These be Considered Macrobiotic Movies?

Can anyone think of more?

Star Wars

“The Force” bifurcates into Darth Vader’s “Dark Side” while Jedi Knights use the other (unnamed?) aspect. Though seen in terms of “good” and “bad” the two energetic concepts originate from the same source. Jedi Knights trust their feelings and intuition to do the seemingly impossible.


An overly yang village is balanced by the sensual aspects of chocolate. The town mayor with an extreme yang condition binges out of control!

Like Water for Chocolate

The guests absorb the emotions and thoughts the cook stirs into her delicious and sensual food. The cook creates her family’s health.

Field of Dreams

The main characters believe in and manifest their true dream, and they do so by tuning into the invisible or energetic world.

The Matrix

In the third and final movie, Neo philosophizes about the interdependence between the seemingly dichotomous machine and human worlds. To defeat the rouge program, Mr. Smith, the yin (human world) and yang (machine world) blend into one, not able to live, survive, and function without the other.

After Neo is phsyically blinded, he begins to see the world only in terms of energy.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

What is macrobiotics?

Someone left a comment asking, "What is macrobiotics, anyway?" It is good practice for me to try and answer this question. To me, "macrobiotic" means several things. From my experience, it is a diet, a philosophy, and a lifestyle. (For another point of view, go to

Regarding one's diet, macrobiotics is a whole foods diet. A whole foods diet leaves out refined and processed foods and focuses on foods in their whole form. For example, instead of eating wheat bread which has been broken down and refined into its smallest form, flour, macrobiotic people would rather eat the whole cooked wheat berry grain. Emphasis is placed on eating whole grains such as brown rice in particular, in addition to millet, barley, buckwheat, wheat, oats, etc. They also eat fresh seasonal vegetables, soup, seaweed and beans. In a macrobiotic diet, some people eat fish, while others choose to be vegan. There is ample food within this diet to create an endless variety of tasty, beautiful, and nutritious dishes.

The emphasis for the whole foods is "local, seasonal, and organic." The local and seasonal aspects are connected. This means eat foods that are grown in your region and eat them in season. For example, when it is summer, eat fresh fruits, corn, and lightly cooked vegetables that keep your body cool, but when it is winter focus on longer cooking times, root vegetables, slightly saltier and heartier dishes that keep your body warm. Eating with the seasons is a way to stay connected to mother nature and her cycles and rhythms. It also keeps our health strong.

On the other hand, if you live in a cold northern region, but you often eat bananas, papayas, mangoes, and other tropical fruits, your body will get very cold! If you live in a hot tropical area, do you want to eat foods that make your body warmer? No! Of course not! You want to naturally eat cooling things. When you consistenly eat foods that are not grown in your local region, and you eat them out of season, your health can deteriorate.

Eating organically is another point to pay attention to. When we eat foods that are fresh and without pesticides and chemicals, not only are we retaining vitamins and minerals, but we are putting the freshest and cleanest foods into our systems, thereby supporting our health, giving us energy and happiness for life.

Macrobiotics departs from the idea of vetarianism or veganism that we commonly know about in the western world. It draws on Asian ideas of health and wellness. People who are macrobiotic believe that food carries energy, or what we know as "yin and yang." Different foods have different energies which are important to balance. When we are balanced, our emotions stay balanced, and we forget our worries, fears, stresses, and we can live a happy, joyful, and free life. Depending on how we want to be, we can choose our foods. Foods are chosen from the categories mentioned above (local, seasonal, and organic) in addition to their energy (balance of yin and yang), always avoiding extreme foods that are difficult to balance over a long period of time (such as meat and sugar, or meat and alcohol). Eating too much raw fruit and vegetables, sugar, chocolate, nightshade vegetables, and oil for example, can leave us feeling depressed, spaced out, and overly emotional. Eating too much meat, salt, baked flour, and eggs can make you feel tense, heavy, and lethargic. These imbalances can lead to illness over time.

With lifestyle, there are a variety of things that macrobiotic people do. These might include (but are not limited to) do-in, yoga, shiatsu, body scrubs, and home remedies for illnesses. Macrobiotic people believe that when you stop eating extreme foods that upset one's natural balance, and treat all illnesses or imbalances with nature's medicine (food), you are free to play and enjoy life at its fullest. Life is beautiful! It is meant to be enjoyed! All possibilities are open to us. In my own experience, macrobiotics has led to a much more peaceful existence. If you dont believe me, that is OK. I would just ask you to try it for yourself to be sure.


You are the entire universe.
You are in all, and all is in you.
Sun, moon, and stars revolve within you.

Swami Muktananda

Miso Soup for Allison

For one person (from Cooking the Whole Foods Way, by Christina Pirello)

1 cup spring or filtered water
1 1-inch piece of wakame, soaked and diced
Several pieces each of a few vegetables
(onion, daikon, carrot, cabbage, squash, etc)
1 tsp barley or brown rice miso
Green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Bring water and wakame to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 3 minutes. Add vegetables and simmer, covered, over low heat 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender.

Remove a small bit of broth, add miso and stir until dissolved. Stir miso mixture back into the soup and simmer, uncovered, without boiling, 3 to 4 minutes more. Garnish with green onions, and serve hot.

NOTES: It is very important that you don't boil the miso. The beneficial enzymes present need warmth to activate, but boiling will destroy their benefits, leaving you only with the flavor.

Garnishing isn't arbitrary or done simply becuase it makes soup look beautiful. Garnishing adds a final touch of fresh, light energy to a soup that has cooked over fire for several minutes. All soups need that kind of freshness. You can use anything raw and fresh, such as green onions, parsley, sprouts, grated carrot, daikon, or gingerroot, to name just a few options.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Carl Jung says...

As to the ultimate things, we can know nothing, and only when we admit this do we return to equilibrium.

Carl Jung

Monday, February 07, 2005

A Macrobiotic View of Karma and Fate

On another day of macrobiotic class, we took up the topic of karma and fate. Our teacher asked us, “What is karma?” Like many Western people, I had the view that karma was somewhat like the Christian “do unto others as they do unto you.” If I do a very good deed for someone, then it is a natural law that someone else would return a good deed to me. If I treat people without kindness and respect, I could expect the same behaviors or results from others to manifest in my own life. I was surprised to learn of a new way to think of karma, from a perspective of yin and yang, or the balance of opposing forces in the universe.

Most of us are living our daily lives eating McDonalds, drinking Coke or Pepsi, snacking on Doritos and watching TV. This type of diet, along with the usual stresses of modern life, fills our bodies with toxins. These toxins get stuck in our bodies, like pieces of paper that get jammed into Xerox machines, and develop into cysts, tumors, or behavioral ticks and even pathologies. We tend to see the world with dualist thinking, or separating things into “good” and “bad” or black and white.

According to my teacher, the way to Tao, the path to totality, wholeness, oneness, or infinity has been impeded by our diet and modern way of life. Our bodies and minds have become stiff, and for this reason our judgment has also been impaired. We are unable to see our paths clearly. When our judgment becomes impaired, we are unable to avoid accidents. Our intuition is not operating at 100% capacity, and we are unable to see ourselves, others, and events objectively.

The way I think of this comes from a thought experiment I read on Yogen Kushi’s World Macrobiotic site. Imagine you are unable to see with your eyes, and you don't know what an elephant is. Now, imagine trying to figure out what it is, We could walk up to one and touch its nose. We might think, “Aha! So this is an elephant.” Or perhaps we might walk up to it and touch its foot and leg, and think, “Oh! Now I know what an elephant is.” In fact, our perspective only allows us partial vision, rather than 100% understanding.

How does this play itself out in terms of yin and yang? As we navigate ourselves through life, we may have incredibly happy or wonderful events occur. However, the law of opposites states that to achieve balance, it is only natural that an equally “bad” event will occur. This fluctuation from “good” to “bad” continues to bounce back and forth, and thus we are trapped in a cycle of karma.

Recently, there was a young Japanese man traveling around the world. As he was traveling, others had been telling him how great Baghdad was. He spent some time in Australia, which apparently was very enjoyable for him, and then set off for Baghdad. He ran out of money, and no hotels would allow him to stay because he was a foreigner, and they did not want to risk being attacked by a suicide bomber or someone seeking retribution. He thus was murdered in the streets.

This was all over the news for days, and there were varied reactions. Many people thought, what a stupid young man to go to such a dangerous place! What was he thinking?

His judgment clearly led him wrong. But which was his mistake? Was his mistake to have gone to Baghdad? Or was his mistake to have gone to Australia? According to our teacher, it was having gone to Australia. Perhaps this time for him was the best of his life. He had a very “good” experience there, and the opposite for him was to suffer this tragic accident.

On the other hand, if our bodies and minds are clean, we no longer see the world in terms of “good” and “bad”. Our third eyes and intuition are operating efficiently, and we are able to avoid accidents. We are able to “see” that whole elephant. Someone who is seeing from their third eye would know not to go someplace, or would know when to leave someplace instinctually.

How do we get our bodies and minds “clean”? One efficient way is to eat a nutritious and balanced macrobiotic whole foods diet. When we eat well, our lives become more peaceful, and we remain on our true paths. Those toxins that are “jamming” our bodies and minds are released. Our health is premium, and we notice how naturally and happily life can flow. Being aligned with the universe, nothing “bad” happens to us.

Thought for the Day

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.

St. Augustine

Hijiki with Onion and Carrot for Laura

From Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking

1 ounce dried hijiki
1 t dark sesame oil
1 onion, sliced into crescent moons
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
spring water
2 to 3 T shoyu (soysauce)

Put the hijiki into a bowl and soak for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Brush a frying pan with oil and heat it. Add the onions and sauté gently until they smell sweet and the color becomes translucent. Push the onions to the side and add the carrot to the pan with a small pinch of sea salt. (You won’t need any more oil.) Saute the carrots until they start to smell sweet, then mix with the onions and push to the side. Add the hijiki, and fry for a few moments. Mix everything together, and add water to cover to about halfway up the pan. The vegetables will not be completely covered with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn to low heat. Simmer slowly (no stirring necessary) for about 40 minutes. Add shoyu. The mixture should have a very mild salty taste. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Variations: Fresh lotus root, deep fried tofu, or dried tofu go well with this preparation.

Oden for Naomi

From Aveline Kushi's Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking

Oden is a traditional Japanese stew, enjoyed especially during the colder months. It is cooked family-style on the table and eaten from the pot. Oden consists of tofu, daikon, and a wide variety of other ingredients in a broth and is frequently accompanied by hot sake. It is prepared both in the countryside and in the cities, where it is associated with taverns and spicy toppings and dressings.

2 strips kombu, soaked and sliced into 3- to 4-inch-long strips
2 cups daikon, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
4 to 5 shiitake mushrooms, soaked stemmed, and halved
Dark sesame oil
5 to 6 slices firm tofu, 3 by 2 by 1/2-inch thick
Spring water

Tie each kombu strip into a bow, with the knot in the center of the kombu strip. Place the kombu in one section of a pot. Add the daikon round in the pot next to the kombu bows and shiitake next to the daikon. Place a little oil in a skillet and lightly pan-fry each othe tofu slices on both sides for a few minutes. Add the tofu slices to the pot next tot he shiitake and kombu. Each of the ingredients should have its own separate section in the pot. Do not mix or layer the ingredients. Add water to half cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until the daikon is soft and translucent. Season with a little shoyu to taste and cook until there is only about 1/4 cup of liquid left. Transfer to a dish and serve.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

How to have good luck in 2005

Sometimes over the weekends, I go to Macrobi Garden in Osaka, where I study macrobiotic cooking and theory with Hiroyuki and Mie Naka. They are incredibly kind, compassionate, and intelligent people who glow very brightly. The most recent lecture with Hiroyuki was "How to have good luck in the New Year" The two parts to this topic were "How to get more money with no effort" and "How to get a boyfriend/girlfriend with no effort." The following is my understanding of his answers.

He asked my friend and me about money first, saying, "How do you think we can become rich?" We went through many possible answers, such as "Do your best at everything" "Be mindful" "Keep the flow of money in circulation so it doesn't get stagnant" and various other replies. While we were racking our brains thinking of things -- still firmly in the material world (requiring effort), I knew he was aiming for something in the invisible world (focusing on the flow of energy). Our brains were having a hard time wrapping around this concept. We gave up and listened to his teaching....

Good Luck with Money

His main point is that if you think of money, what energy does it have? Is it more yin or more yang? Is money like our blood or lymph traveling and circulating? Hmmmm...... Maybe not? Perhaps it is actually more stationary, because if you put it somewhere, such as in the bank, it has strong gathering energy. Ok, so according to him, money is more yang. Is it really more yang?

Well, if you think of all the rich people out there, they have some characteristics in common. How do they stay wealthy? For the most part, they avoid spending excessive amounts of money. In other words, they save (gathering energy). Also, many rich people love alligator leather shoes and bags (an extremely yang animal skin), they love diamonds (the most yang object we can imagine), and they carry large amounts of cash close to their bodies. Even if they carry their gold VISA or MCs, they always have that cash, because it will attract more cash to them -- strong gathering energy.

How can we attract more money to us? Logically, one answer is to save your money. Another answer, according to feng shui, is to keep your money both on your body, near one of your chakras, and also in the north west part of your home. You can also put a diamond in a glass of water, and drink this water daily, for about one week. If you are a singer and want to improve your voice, wear a diamond over your throat.

Be mindful, however, that if you increase your luck with things in the material world, other areas of your life may be more unlucky -- the balance of yin and yang. For this reason, it is important to maintain a balanced diet avoiding extremes. When you pray, pray both for your health and for more money in your life.

Good Luck with Love

The way to get a boy or girlfriend is based on the same ideas of how energy works with money. Many of us have Mr. or Mrs. Right in our mind's eye, that million dollar mate, and we are waiting and waiting for that person to come. We may meet other single people, but they somehow do not fit that image or that ideal, so we discard them as options, perhaps even without knowing them at all.

Where are we going wrong? Isn't it OK to have high standards? Well, it could be that our judgements and pickyness suppress this energy from flowing into our lives. It would be better to date lots of people at first (the $1 dollar type) to stimulate this flow of energy. As we keep dating the $1 people, suddenly we will notice that the people we begin dating are $5 dollar people, and then $10 dollar people, and then $100 dollar people.... You get the point. As soon as the energy gathers in our lives, more people, and better choices will be attracted to us.

This logic should hold true for anything we want in our lives. If we want to be healthier, we should surround ourselves with healthy people. (Conversely, avoid hospitals, drugs, and other things that carry the energy of sick people). If we want to have a strong macrobiotic practice, it is a good idea to spend time with macrobiotic people.

Does this mean we should avoid sick people? (For the purpose of this article, sick people are defined as those who immediately and/or automatically take drugs or visit the doctor when they feel out of balance.) If our condition is stronger than the sick person, we will give some of our energy to them and lift them up. If however, someone is sicker than you are healthy, then be careful. You can take on their sickness.

Learning from Hiroyuki always provides a lot of interesting ideas to consider. I don't know if they are true or not, but it is fun to think about and test through personal experience. Mom, can I borrow you diamond ring for about one week?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Macrobiotic Summer Conference

Originally uploaded by macro808.
These are some of the beautiful people I study with in Japan. We all went to the macrobiotic summer conference in Vermont in summer of '04

Start where you are

This whole concept of blogging is new to me, and suddenly, the whole thing feels a bit intimidating. How does it work? What do I do? What do I write? Is anyone listening? Strange! Even though this is a whole new realm of the internet for me, it seems important to stay up-to-date on current technology and phenomenon occuring in pop culture, especially since I live in Japan and am out of touch with daily things in America. In yoga, they say to "start where you are", so here I go.

What is on my mind at the moment? Well, on my mind is the fact that in two months I will be leaving Japan and heading back to America -- back to Hawaii. My plan is to leave the field of teaching English (though retaining all the wonderful experiences and lessons through being a teacher), and start my own business in macrobiotics. What form that will take is of yet unclear.

For the past two years, I have been studying macrobiotics in Osaka, Japan and a whole new beautiful world has opened to me. This beautiful world encompasses more inner peace and a greater sense of happiness. Old worries and fears have not completely left me, but have consistenly dissapated, opening my mind and my eyes to the light and love the world has to offer. My goal is to share this with people in Hawaii.

Check for more postings as I learn how to enhance this blog.