Tag Archives: Japan

Red Bean Jelly (Mizu Yokan)

Red Bean Jelly (Mizu Yokan) 水ようかん – Japanese

Red Bean Jelly (Mizu Yokan) 水ようかん

Red Bean Jelly (Mizu Yokan) 水ようかん

I was intrigued when I heard about Red Bean Jelly as I have never thought about the making it into jelly before. Red Bean has always been on the heavy side for me when it comes to dessert as it’s usually very rich and sweet. While as for jelly, I always depict it as light and refreshing, perfect dessert choice after a heavy meal. When I got to try out Mizu Yokan (Red Bean Jelly) in Japan, I was amazed! The flavor of the red bean was strong, yet it was still refreshing.

I was told that the Japanese love their jelly during the summer. Apparently, there are a few different variations of Yokan in Japan. Some would make the jelly with strained red bean paste (like I do here) to give a smoother texture, while some would add in whole soft-boiled chestnuts or use unstrained red bean paste to give texture to the jelly.


My experience staying at a traditional Ryokan was amazing. Make sure to check out my travel vlog where I got to try out being in the hot spring and Japanese traditional multi-course dinner, Kaiseki. This was also where I got to try out the traditional dessert, Mizu Yokan for the first time. I just had to recreate the dessert for you guys!

Red Bean Jelly (Mizu Yokan) 水ようかん

Red Bean Jelly (Mizu Yokan) 水ようかん

I couldn’t find Japanese red bean paste in Singapore, so I made it using local red bean paste that was pre-made ready for Chinese bao. Indeed, the type of paste you use here will determine the color of your jelly. I believe you will get a darker and less opaque end result if you use Japanese red bean paste. As there was higher oil content in my local red bean paste, my jelly a little different. I would highly recommend you guys to find Japanese paste for this recipe if you can. I did have to make some adjustment to the recipe to perfect it as I feel I don’t like my jelly to be too rich and too sweet. But, feel free to actually change it up to your liking! The recipe is actually very versatile. If you like your jelly to be firmer, just add a little more agar agar powder. Omit the extra sugar if you think it is too sweet. For me, it’s perfect.


Red Bean Jelly (Mizu Yokan)
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  1. 400 ml of water
  2. 200 grams of red bean paste
  3. 2 tbsp of sugar
  4. 2.5 tsp of agar agar powder
  1. In a saucepan, combine water, sugar and agar agar powder.
  2. Bring it to a boil to dissolve the agar agar powder completely.
  3. Stir in red bean paste and keep mixing until the paste have melted completely.
  4. Sift through a strainer to ensure the mixture is smooth.
  5. Transfer into a container or a square mold. Let it cool down to room temperature before chilling it in the fridge for at least 4 to 5 hours.
  6. Un-mold the jelly and slice them into bite size pieces.
  7. Serve chilled with Japanese green tea.
  1. Adjust the ingredients according to your preference.
  2. Add in canned chestnuts or use paste with red bean skin on if you prefer.
TheZongHan https://thezonghan.com/


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Things to do at Nagano

7 things you must do at Nagano – A peak at Nagano

I got to attend a screening at JAPAN RAIL CAFE about Nagano prefecture, a region that is mountainous and landlocked to know more about its top destination areas and speciality. Organized by NHK WORLD, it was based on a series program called, ‘A Peak at Nagano‘ which promotes the region.

NHK Event

NHK Event

Previously, I did not know that the region exists, nor I was interested to travel around Japan other than Osaka and Tokyo. But after going through the talk about Nagano, it was truly an eye-opener that there are actually so many other things to do in Japan! I was intrigued to know that the region is easily accessible by Japan’s railway system from Tokyo and Nagoya!  Make sure to take advantage and visit the area for your next vacation!


Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Credit: NHK World

Beautiful and elegant, yet designed to ward off intruders

Matsumoto Castle is located in the second largest city in Nagano prefecture, Matsumoto. The castle is considered a national treasure as it has a long history of more than 400 years! Do you know that the traditional structure was designed in a way that it actually fight off any enemy that tries to attack it in the past? Sounds interesting right? I’m sure it is a place for you to discover something new and special.

Besides,  you will get a taste of traditional Japan in the city of Matsumoto. I highly recommend you to check out the area.


 Zenkoji Temple

Zenkoji Temple

Credit: NHK World

One of the most popular temples in Nagano is the Zenkoji Temple, you must not miss it when visiting there. The centerpiece of the temple that enshrines is the holy statue of Amitabha, the Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism. Dating back to the 7th century, this historic temple is one of the only few temples that still has strong religious roots as morning rituals are still held daily by the high priest  So make sure to visit and understand more about it when you are there!


Lake Suwa

Lake Suwa

Credit: Go! Nagano (http://www.go-nagano.net)

Cruise around the largest lake in Nagano Prefecture and enjoy the month-long fireworks festival every evening during summertime. Make sure to catch the longest and biggest Suwa Lake Fireworks where you can expect to see over 40,000 fireworks go up in the sky on the 15th of August! The breathtaking festival will be held during August till early September annually. Additionally, the lake is surrounded by lots of hot springs, I highly suggest you to stay a night in one of the nearby traditional inns to truly feel relax and understand the history here.


Kamakura Village


Credit: Go! Nagano (http://www.go-nagano.net)

Be enchanted with the famous Kamakura snow huts in the winter. Thick white blanket of snow will be covered usually in the month of February and approximately 20 magnificent snow huts will be built to celebrate the season! Make sure to feel magical by lighting up one of the snow huts! 


Cruise Trains (also known as Sight Seeing Trains)


Night View Obasute

Credit: NHK World

Have you set on a train in Japan and stunned at Japan’s amazing scenic view? Ride a round trip train from Nagano to Obsaute at night just for a speculator view! What’s more, a delicious bento that uses ingredients from Obsaute will be provided for each ticket holder. The trip is called as ‘Night View Obasute’. Isn’t it nice that you will be able to dine while enjoying the night view? Romantic and extraordinary. 



Credit: Japan-Guide (http://www.japan-guide.com)

Credit: Japan-Guide (http://www.japan-guide.com)

Home of over 3,000-meter high mountains, you will be greeted with some of Japan’s most spectacular mountain scenery here in Kamikochi.  Be sure to wander around Taisho Pond where decayed trees due to the eruption of nearby volcano Takedake provide a special sight of the area. Immerse yourself in nature and take a moment to enjoy the surroundings as there are so much more to see like the Tashiro and Myojin lakes. If you are feeling adventurous, there are hiking courses to the summits of the mountains! It is a wonderful place that you can’t miss if you like hiking. Do note, however, that the park is only accessible by bus or taxi.


Azumino City

Located in the central of Nagano prefecture, be sure to take a cycling tour on Azumino Yamabiko Cycling course. It is easy to rent a bicycle at a reasonable price to explore the city to places such as the Azumino National Park for an incredible view, and Daio Wasabi Farm which you can experience yourself the harvesting of Wasabi plant. You can tune into NHK WORLD to catch one of their programs called, ‘CYCLE AROUND JAPAN on ‘Nagano – Life Deep in the Mountainsto discover the secret places of Nagano.


Fun-facts about Nagano:

Do you know that Nagano has the longest life expectancy in Japan? 80.88 years for men while 87.18 years for women. However, it was very different 50 years ago as the residents of the region used to have a diet high in salt. Yet, the situation at early 1980 turned quickly as the government encouraged the residents there to stay active and reduce sodium intake by eating smaller quantities of pickled vegetables and less consumption of salty miso soup. The campaign was a huge success and now the region is Japan’s longest life span expectancy!


Find out more about Nagano on NHK WORLD’s latest series, A Peak at Nagano‘ that features episodes on tourism in Nagano! There are also other Nagano programmes like ‘Journeys in Japan and Japan Railway Journal for you to discover the secrets of Nagano prefecture. 

For those of you who are new to NHK WORLD, it is a 24 hour English TV channel of Japan’s only public broadcasting station, NHK. You are able to catch the latest news and trends with its wide variety of programmes that covers food, travel, culture and many more.

Tune in to NHK WORLD on your TV via Singtel TV on Ch. 157 or Starhub TV on Ch. 812.

If you don’t have any subscription, do not fear! You can still stream (for free!) the programmes LIVE or access to tons of their content via VOD (video-on-demand) services which are available on NHK WORLD’s official website and their free smartphone app.

If you are interested in traveling there, make sure to check out their official tourism guide by heading over to http://www.go-nagano.net/.

Nagano Navi

Credit: Go! Nagano (http://www.go-nagano.net)

Download ‘Nagano Navi’ on Android or IOS as your Nagano’s travel guide there for information on Nagano’s sights and transportations!

 Brought to you by NHK World and Go! Nagano


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Japan 2014/2015 Part 1 – Kinosaki

Hey guys! So it was coming an end of 2014 and my brother and I decided that we should be in Japan during that period. It was a wonderful experience at Osaka because the last time I went there was almost 10 years back!

The whole journey was about 10 hours (including transfer time) to finally reach Kansai International Airport and the first we did was to get our rented car ready because we were going to Kinosaki, a small town 2 hours away from Osaka.IMG_7462


LOL! Trying to act cute inside the car.

It took us about an hour to get our car ready and by then we were all very hungry, so we went to the nearest supermarket to get some ready-made bento and snacks to munch on. I got some katsu with rice set that wasn’t that good. 🙁


These strawberries were deliciously sweet! I couldn’t stop eating them!


We bought some tomatoes too! They were not cheap too but good! I couldn’t imagine myself eating a whole tomato just by itself but I could with these tomatoes, not sourish at all!


I also got myself some Meji White Chocolate.

IMG_7500It will take some take to reach our destination, Kinosaki. So we decided to stop-by to clear our bladder and get some food. 


Yay, I love takoyaki! During my whole trip in Japan, we have bought endless amount of takoyaki as they are everywhere. It was just that delicious, they were way different from those you could get in Singapore. 


It was dinner time when we reached Kinosaki, we quickly checked in to our inn and settle down for dinner in our room as it was included in.

IMG_7539The main course of the meal was crab, so we had a sumptuous meal as it was fresh and juicy! Yum…..


After dinner, we changed to their traditional clothes and got ready to visit an Onsen (hot spring). Honestly, I’m embarrassed about being naked especially with the people I know. So I actually went alone and surprisingly the atmosphere was warmth and pleasant even though there were like 10 Japanese strangers naked around me. Some of them even tried to communicate with me, but language barrier was the problem. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and Onsen waters are really great for your skin.

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 After hot spring, we went scrolling around the town at night and reward ourselves with some soft-serve ice cream! I love black sesame flavor that I got, how wish Singapore would have such flavor!

IMG_7584 edited

We took a photo with the daughter of the ice cream shop owner! She’s so cute and I remembered how she loved to show us she playing Kendama skillfully. 

IMG_7655The next morning, me outside at the guesthouse I’m staying. 


Kinosaki, a small little town famous for its hot spring looks really beautiful! We were hoping that it will snow here but it did not and there was a fire incident 2 days after we left. 🙁


We got to roam around the area. It was a quiet and peaceful town, there were little tourist and the community was really friendly and helpful to get us around.

IMG_7651editedWhat a beautiful sight. Imagine scrolling around with boy/girlfriend, won’t it be so romantic? 


After spending some time in the town, we went to Sanin Kaigan National Park. The park itself stretches about 75 km around the coast! There were many speical landforms formed around there. But of course we only went to the closest, Genbudo Cave (玄武洞)! We can’t be roaming the whole area with such limited time.

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I still can remember that the wind was blowing furiously and it was freezing cold!



I heard those rock lines were formed when lava produced by volcanic activity 1.6 million years ago. They are so beautiful!IMG_7737

IMG_7738Our last meal in Kinosaki before we head back to Osaka. Soba is Kinosaki local specialty, we absolutely had to try before leaving this little town.

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