Konjac is grown in India, China, Japan and Korea for its large starchy corms, used to create a flour and jelly of the same name. It is also used as a vegan substitute for gelatin.
In Japanese cuisine, konjac (known as konnyaku) appears in dishes such as oden. It is typically mottled grey and firmer in consistency than most gelatins. It has very little taste; the common variety tastes vaguely like salt. It is valued more for its texture than flavor.
Ito konnyaku (糸蒟蒻) is a type of Japanese food consisting of konjac cut into noodle-like strips. It is usually sold in plastic bags with accompanying water. It is often used in sukiyaki and oden. The name literally means "thread-konjac."
Japanese konnyaku is made by mixing konjac flour with water and limewater. Hijiki is often added for the characteristic dark color and flavor. Without additives for color, konnyaku is pale white. It is then boiled and cooled to solidify. Konnyaku made in noodle form is called shirataki and used in foods such as sukiyaki and gyudon.
The dried corm of the konjac plant contains around 40% glucomannan gum. This polysaccharide makes konjac jelly highly viscous.
Konjac has almost no calories but is very high in fiber. Thus, it is often used as a diet food.
Yama, the name of the Buddhist dharmapala and judge of the dead, who presides over the Buddhist Narakas, "Hells" or "Purgatories". Although ultimately based on the god Yama of the Hindu Vedas, the Buddhist Yama has developed different myths and different functions from the Hindu deity. He has also spread far more widely, and is known in every country where Buddhism is practiced, including China and Japan.
In Chinese mythology, Yan Wang, also called Yanluo, is the god of death and the ruler of Di Yu ("hell" or the underworld). The name Yanluo is a shortened Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit term "King Yama". In Korean, the same characters are pronounced Yomra and the deity is usually referred to as the Great King Yomra. In Japan Yanluo is referred to as Emma Dai-Ou ("Great King Yama"). In both ancient and modern times, Yanluo is portrayed as a large man with a scowling red face, bulging eyes and a long beard. He wears traditional robes and a crown on his head that usually bears the kanji 王, which stands for "king."
Yanluo is not only the ruler but also the judge of the underworld and passes judgment on all the dead. He always appears in a male form, and his minions include a judge who holds in his hands a brush and a book listing every soul and the allotted death date for every life. Ox-Head and Horse-Face, the fearsome guardians of hell, bring the newly dead, one by one, before Yanluo for judgement. Men or women with merit will be rewarded good future lives, or even revival in their previous life. Men or women who committed misdeeds will be sentenced to torture and/or miserable future lives. The second level of Di Yu was ruled by king Chu Jiang and reserved for thieves and murderers.
The spirits of the dead, on being judged by Yanluo, are supposed to either pass through a term of enjoyment in a region midway between the earth and the heaven of the gods, or to undergo their measure of punishment in Naraka, the nether world, situated somewhere in the southern region. After this time they may return to Earth in new bodies.
Yanluo is considered to be an office or bureaucratic post, rather than an individual god. There were said to be cases in which an honest mortal was rewarded the post of Yanluo, and served as the judge and ruler of the underworld.
In his capacity as judge, Yanluo is normally depicted wearing a Chinese judge's cap in Chinese and Japanese art. Yanluo sometimes appears on Chinese Hell Bank Notes.
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