Picture of a Floating World

Picture of a Floating World

By Tim Hazell


Japan’s distinct culture evolved rapidly after Emperor Jimmu founded the first dynasty in 660 B.C. Distinctive elements of Japanese art include the use of clear areas of separated color in a two-dimensional, flat manner. Deft rendering of lines with brush and ink are taught from early childhood.


Ukiyo-e printmakers utilized city tableaus such as Edo (Tokyo), as well as the haunting beauty of Japanese landscapes. Artists would sketch and divert themselves in “tea-rooms,” where conversation flowed in the company of courtesans. Roughly translated, “ukiyo-e” means “picture of a floating world.” Wood-block prints were a popular means of bringing art reproductions to the Japanese masses from about 1660 to 1860. 


Four separate trades were required to complete the shimmering sheets of ukiyo-e; the painter who created the design, the master wood-block cutter, the printer who applied the colors used, and the publisher who financed and orchestrated the marketing. Prints usually told stories composed from daily routines. Hairstyles and fabrics reflected current fashions.


Fluffy pancakes are very popular in Japan, prepared using soufflé techniques. Egg whites whipped up with sugar are transformed into a glossy thick meringue. The resulting pancake clouds are heavenly with butter and syrup!




1 egg yolk 

1 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. milk 

3 tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder


2 large egg whites 

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar (substitute 1/2 tsp. lemon juice)

1-1/2 tbsp. sugar 



Whisk egg yolk with 1 tablespoon sugar until pale and frothy. Add the milk in batches. Sift flour and baking powder over the yolk mixture. Whisk well until ingredients are incorporated. Whip the egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy and pale, adding sugar a bit at a time until whites are a glossy thick meringue that holds a peak, taking care not to over-whip. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the bowl with the yolks until completely incorporated. Add half of remaining whites and whisk into the yolk batter, being careful not to deflate. Transfer egg yolk mixture to the remaining egg whites. Whisk, then use a spatula to fold together. Heat up a large non-stick frying pan with a lid over low heat. Brush very lightly with oil. Use a paper towel to spread a thin film. 


Using a measuring cup, scoop the batter onto the pan, just enough for one or two pancakes at a time. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and add some more batter on top of each pancake. Cover and continue to cook for 4-5 additional minutes. Remove the lid and use a spatula to gently lift a corner of the pancake, which should release easily without extra manipulation. If you still have any batter left, pile it on top of the pancakes and then gently flip. Cover and cook for a further 5-6 minutes. Pancakes will grow even taller and fluffier when they’re done. Once the pancakes are golden and cooked through, gently remove and serve on a plate with powdered sugar, butter, whipped cream, and syrup. Enjoy immediately!