Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Used to be that when I was a kid, I ate a lot of oranges (mikan).

The Japanese oranges are small in size, and the skins are soft and easily peelable. Used to be that mother would buy lots of them in a box. I would eat 5 or 6 in a row, while being seated in a kotatsu.. The oranges were mainly winter things. I associate the white tranquility of winter times with the sweet sour taste of the oranges.

When I went to Vancouver, Canada at the age of 15, I learned that the Japanese oranges were sold as "TV oranges", as people could eat the oranges while watching the TV. I don't know how widespread this particular expression is. At least Verna told me these were TV oranges.

Learning that my familiar oranges were turned into "TV oranges" conjured a strange feeling for me. It was as if my childhood favorites were being transfigured so that the identity was not recognizable any more.

At that time, I was at a stage of great change myself. Growing up is sometimes like being transformed from a mikan into a TV orange.


(ma)gog said...

My memory of mikan is the same as yours. Mikan and Kotatsu are inseparable in winter, and certainly, TV would be added to the combination. I've never heard the expression, "TV oranges", and it gives me the feeling like you say, that something doesn't quite match. Perhaps when we say "oranges", we usually think of the fruit "orange", which we recognize as the different thing from mikan.

When I was in England, I bought a bag of mikan at a supermarket. Although they looked exactly the same as mikan in Japan, the texture was a bit different and the taste was much more like oranges, but I loved them. My english friend was calling them clementines. I thought this lovely name was perfect for the english version of our mikan.

Takuro said...

I think I can understand your intricate feelings about our growing up and need for saying goodbye to our sensitivity of childhood.

Yet I believe our childhood memory is still living in our heart or at some corner of our brains. The qualia of mikan in kotatsu never fade away.

Anonymous said...

Exactly the same kind of mikan imported from Spain is called "Satsuma" here and can be purchased at ordinary suprmarket.

As I'm originally from Kagoshima, your diary about visiting there gave me very natsuakshi (familiar) feeling.


yuki said...

This article remind me "TV People" by Haruki Murakami.

Petrusa de Koker said...

I quickly followed your link to Wikipedia to see what Mikan look like. I guess here in South Africa that would be called a seedless “naartjie”. I am not sure what the English word for “naartjie” is. I also heard some Britians call them Clementines (as per comments above), but I think that is the name of the specific cultivar/variety. However, I do know them well since my father used to have quite a number of “naartjie” trees (or should I say mikan trees) and as kids we used to love them too. My father would usually send one of us kids to go pick some of them for visitors (in South African rural areas it is the habit not to only give visitors refreshment while they are visiting you, but also give them something to take home). Those trees are still there and my brother now gives them to visitors as well (and supply them to the local market). South African winters are not as cold as Japanese ones, but I also have sweet memories of eating “naartjies” in winter.

Junko said...

Mikan could be translated
tangerine in English.

" It was late by the time
I reached the building where I lived, the hallways quiet,
supper smoke still ringing the
In the dark, my room with
its windows raised smell of
wet screens and tangerines."

quoted from " The coast of Chicago"
by Stuart Dybek.

It's getting cold today.
Take care, eat tangerines.

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

I had similar feelings with Junko-san. This passage is from "Farwell" in " The coast of chicago" isn't it?

Dr.Mogi's essays remind me of our childhood and some poetic novels...

etsukosuda said...

In UK there are both clementines and satsumas (which are imported from Spain as Anoymous-san says) are available in supermarkets. We tend to go for satsumas, of course, because they are just like mikan to my Japanese tongue.

Yes, some associations (like between mikan and kotatsu) are unshakable.

Junko said...

To Tetsu-san You are right.
It's from " Farwell".
A year ago,Stuart Dybek himself,recited this short novel in Tokyo. That is why I reminded this phrase quickly.

Recently, I have nostalgic feeling from the blog. I wonder it because of late autumn.

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

Oh, it's wonderful!

Yamabuki no tubone said...

I remember when I was in Vancouver, Canada, people called TV orange or Tangerine as Mikan. Anyway, I guess Eating Mikan in Kotatsu is the best way for me as well.