An update....

I've gotten several inquiries from kind readers about the status of this site, which hasn't been updated much, as well as the status of JustBento, which hasn't been updated in 2 years.

The fact is, I have been having more health problems again. This past July I almost died, for real. I suddenly collapsed at home and an ambulance was called, but apparently my situation was so precarious that I could not be moved for several hours. The ambulance came in the early afternoon, and it was past sundown (I'm not exactly sure of the time, since I was barely conscious) before the ambulance could move me. That night I had emergency surgery to remove a huge and very fast-growing growth in my small intestines. By huge, I'm not kidding - it measured about 20cm by 28cm by 15cm, and weighed more than 2200 grams - the size of a smallish newborn baby.

The growth turned out to be a very rare sarcoma. Sarcomas usually don't grow in the small intestines, and small intestine cancer itself is not at all common. I always knew I was unique. ^_^;

So the upshot is, I'm facing 5 years of chemotherapy to kill off the rest of the sarcoma - the oncologist has told me I may have to take chemo pills for the rest of my life. This cancer is not a metastatis of the endometrial cancer I was diagnosed with in 2011, but well, another one.

This has affected me in a lot of ways as you can imagine, mentally and physically. On the food front, the most serious issue I'm dealing with is that for some reason my tastebuds have been badly affected. The first few mouthfuls of most foods are fine, but after that a lot of things have a terrible bitter taste - the bitter taste seems to coat the middle of my tongue, as if I'd been sucking on an uncoated pill. I have to really pick and choose what I eat - some fruits are okay, most vegetables are okay, some cheeses are okay. Most meat tastes really bad after the first few mouthfuls, and I simply can't tolerate any kind of processed food anymore - it's like I am tasting any chemicals in there amplified. As a lifelong food lover, this has really gotten me down. I've had to learn to adapt, and rely on those first precious 'normal' tasting mouthfuls.

The fatigue is an issue too. If you are a healthy person, it's really hard to describe to you what that dragging, heavy fatigue feels like - the fatigue that hits you so suddenly sometimes during the day. If you have a chronic illness, or are undergoing some kind of long-term medical treatment, you know what I'm talking about.

So, have I stopped writing about food? No - but my output is quite lower than before. However I am still out there, writing. I still write a monthly column for The Japan Times, called Japanese Kitchen. And I still regularly update my Facebook Page - it's somehow easier to write there than here, although I should write more in 'my' space I know. My Facebook Page is the best place to see what I'm doing actually. I'm also slowly working on another project, which I hope to be able to talk about eventually.

And...there's now a German edition of The Just Bento Cookbook! It is called Bento für jeden Tag: Kreative gesunde Mahlzeiten zum Vorbereiten und Mitnehmen. If you have bento or Japanese cooking friends who prefer German to English, please let them know! ^_^ ( affiliate link.)

So there it is. I don't plan to end either JustHungry or JustBento just yet. I'm planning to get better. In the meantime, I'm also mulling the idea of writing more about non-food topics, for which I don't have to rely on my rogue tastebuds. I am posting fairly regularly to my Funassyi site, since Funassyi just makes me happy.

In any case, I'm still here. ^_^ Thanks for your patience.

Filed under:  personal cancer

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Hey Makiko, as a long time reader of this site its really saddening to hear you're having to deal with something like this. I truly do hope that everything goes well over the next few years and your health improves. All my love from down in oz ⊂( ´ ▽ ` )⊃

Good luck and best wishes to you! Come back when you're ready - we'll be waiting. What's a little more time? ;)

Good Luck in your fight against the evil cancer!

Maki -- Thanks for letting us know how you are doing. I enjoy your book very much and use it often. I also enjoy seeing you on the FB Tatting group as well.

I will be praying for your healing and recovery.

I'm so sorry to hear this. I too am a cancer patient and completely understand what you mean about food. In part this is chemo itself but the other part in our control is our utensils. Metal is not good. Tin is the worst for me. I use plastic and some metal utensils do work...they are from the 70's and 80's. I'm not sure of the composition. Silver ones are terrible. My oncology team taught me this. I actually rinse my mouth with whey from the plain yogurt that I buy as well. It seems to mellow things out. I hope this is helpful to you. My thoughts are with you.

I'm so sorry to hear of your illness. I'm always checking my RSS feed to see if you've posted something. I hope you get well soon! The German edition might actually interest me as I've been studying German a bit over a year now and need to practice :) Best wishes!

I love your book. Good luck :)

Sending you positive vibes!

I hope your health improves and I hope you have people around you to support you through your treatments. I love what you have written and I dip into your past posts often. My son and I went to Japan in 2007 and it changes out eating habits. When ever my son say's "hey remember that thing we ate in Japan? Can you make that? I look to your site. Thank you. Take care of yourself.

Maki I think of you often and always check RSS feed in the hope of news . Was in Europe in July and wondered how your renovation project was going - no little insect came and told me you were in fact very ill again. Thank you for letting us know. Sending my very best wishes to you for steady progress and good days. I do hope the warm regard with which you are held by your many fans gives you some support on the hard days.

Hi Makiko, so sorry to hear of your continuing health problems. I do a form of alternative healing called SRT (spiritual Response Therapy) that can be done from a distance. It can uncover the reasons for your on-going problems and possibly eliminate them. Maybe on a spiritual level you, like so many of us, have a belief that you can only grow and learn through suffering. In any case if you like I can do a healing and send you an email with what I found out. Email me if you are interested.

It is ridiculously inappropriate and downright cruel to suggest that this disease is somehow due to deep-seated personal beliefs. Such a premise is wholly unscientific, not to mention heartless. Please keep such comments to yourself in the future, or save your inane remarks for others who have taken "intention setting" to an absurd extreme. There is nothing spiritual about what you have said here. Shame on you.


Sending lots of positive thoughts and healing energy to you. I've enjoyed your posts, and will enjoy them again when you've kicked cancer's butt. Best wishes - Valerie

I'm a long time reader of your blog... I don't think I've ever commented but I really hope that you do well in your chemo and that you get better sooner rather than later. That is a very difficult treatment to handle, but please know that many of us are quietly supporting you from the side and sending our best wishes.

Hi Maki, please concentrate on getting well. Your fans will always be here supporting you :)

So sorry to hear you have been ill. I think you are wonderful how you have successfully faced this new cancer head on. My sister has had four different unrelated cancers the first was diagnosed 23 years ago. She is still going strong. I've missed your posts but am grateful for all the fun from being a long time reader of both your blogs. Thanks for letting me know about your Facebook page. Take it easy, my thoughts are with you and your family.

Sorry to hear that you have to fight another battle. I hope you have a speedy recovery.
I have been reading this blog for a long time, and follow on RSS, and not active on FB, so I am thankful for your post.

I think I had landed on this blog while trying to find out what omurice is, and your post on Tampopo and your father has led to an obsession with Japanese food and Japanese drama and movies about food. As the obsession has grown, I finally visited Japan this year.

Thank you for all you have shared over time. いつもお世話になります。

Hi Maki,
Sorry to hear about your ongoing health problems. Gah, what a series of horrible things you've had to cope with.
I love your writing and always pounce on any new posts.
Get well soon.

I've been reading this site since I was in undergrad and someone introduced me to The Just Bento Cookbook. So, I missed the updates, but you being healthy? WAY more important than a blog or two. SO much more! Do whatever you need to do in order to get better!
You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. I wish all the best, and good luck fighting your cancer! You can do it!

Hi Maki-san--

I've missed your posts and I am so sorry to learn the reason you haven't been posting. I had the experience of losing my sense of taste entirely on chemo (I did get it back fortunately, since I'm a chef!) and found that I got satisfaction only from the texture of food. It's so hard when you need to eat to keep your strength up.

I wish you every good thing, health-wise and in every way, in the coming year--Catherine

Sorry to hear of your health battles, but I can feel your strong spirit! Gambatte ne! Sending you healing thoughts. Looking forward to your future endeavors.

I noticed recently that I hadn't been receiving any emails from your site, and then the most recent one popped up. I was so sad to hear of your illness. So scary! Please take care of yourself and get fully well. I hope your energy and tastebuds return quickly!

My husband is Japanese and we mostly eat Japanese food at home (first overseas, now in Japan). I've learned so much from you -- thank you, thank you! Sending positive thoughts your way and wishing you the very best.

Dear Maki San,

I am sorry to hear about your health and am grateful that you keep posting about food for us even through your challenges. I always look forward to your unique perspectives on your fb links or posts, and on your articles with The Japan Times. My friend, who is Japanese American, is always surprised by how much I know about Japanese cuisine, hehe.

Again, my best wishes on your health. ganbatte!


Please watch this eye-openening documentairy series about cancer:

Hope you'll get well.

Hi there,
I'm a long time mostly silent reader (since back when you still lived in Switzerland - funny enough where I currently reside now!).
I'm very sorry to hear about your health issues. It's hard to find the right words to say, especially since you don't know me (i feel like i know you a bit after following you for so long) but just wanted to send you a ton of positive energy.
Take great care of yourself <3

Dear Maki,

I'm just another of your many long time readers who wants to wish you all the best. I'm truly sorry that you have to go through all that again and hope you can keep your spirit up despite everything.

I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for the many helpful recipes and enlightening articles you've posted over the years. Yours was the first Japanese food site that I came across online and it is my first stop for all things washoku. Your bento book was my first purchase and it inspired me to think differently about not just what I eat but how easy it can be to make something healthy that looks and tastes exceptionally good.

Many, many thoughts and a big hug from Denmark - お大事にして下さい.

I've been lurking around your websites for quite some years now, they are definitely some of my favourites that I return to very often. I've definitely learned a lot from your recipes and tips.

There are no right words for such a situation, but I wish you all the best for your health and good recovery!

Best wishes from a Romanian in Germany,

Maki, I am so sorry to hear about your health. I know you have the strength to beat it, just like you beat it last time. Please concentrate all your energy on getting better and all the best to you -- may 2017 bring you nothing but good things!

The way cancer treatment tortures our sense of taste is just awful. Like you, I was exhausted most of the time and lost my taste for many things. Fortunately I found some help via Rebecca Katz's book The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen. I didn't feel like cooking much, but the section on dealing with taste and texture problems was really helpful. She posted some tips on her blog. Hope they can help you.

Maki - May I pray for you? This news is actually great timing, for I too have been wondering where my favorite food friend has gone to. When I fell in love with your culture, I soon found you! I've been a fan of yours for at least 5 years (probably more). I began digging into your archive over the years and try to keep up with your latest and greatest postings. My heart aches for you and what is happening to you. :( Although, as it seems, you have an incredible sense of humor. I've often found myself giggling; even laughing out loud (referring to your past blog posts). Thank you so much for sharing all that you have. I look forward to reading whatever you choose to share in this new phase of your life!

Hi Makiko,

I used to read your sites regularly a few years ago. Really nice, inspirational, easy to follow recipes. But living in Spain nowadays means that any type of Asian cooking is a real project...I let it all slide.

Then, just today, browsing in a bookshop while on holiday in Dublin, I found a copy of the Just Bento cookbook and remembered your sites! I had to buy it of course, and I just finished flicking through it - wow!! Beautiful photos, clear instructions...that's the Makiko I remember! Thank you for writing this book! I can't wait to get cooking.

So I went back onto your site again, and I was so upset to read about your health problems. From the bottom of my heart, I hope you get well soon. You are a wonderful writer and a really talented cook, and I sincerely hope that your tastebuds return and that you kick cancer's ass!!

Hello Maki,

So sorry to read that of second bout with cancer.
I am keeping you in my prayers. Also, I would like to ask, are you familiar with Hikonyon, (which you probably are)?
I wonder if Hikonyon is related to Funassyi?
Here is a link to fun page:
Be well, soon.
"Be strong and of good courage" - Joshua 1:9
Most Sincerely,
From Boston area, Massachusetts, USA

Hi Maki, I´ve been reading your blog for years and I´ll be here waiting when you can continue again. I pray for your health <3

You have really been through it. I am also a long time follower (in Switzerland) and am sending positive thoughts across the border. Just back from 2 weeks in Japan where one of the highlights was a miso making workshop. I have my live miso fermenting in the kitchen and plan to make it for myself and friends going forward. It would be nice to have a new article on this fascinating area. Like a lot of things, there is conflicting and confusing information about miso all over the Internet ... Take care and best wishes for a stronger and brighter 2017.

I hope you get well soon, and defeat it once and for all.
Stay Strong!
Best wishes for your speedy recovery! Be one of those who managed to do it and live to be old and able to encourage others! ^_^

Hi Maki,
Just wanted to let you know that I have really appreciated all your food advice on these blogs! Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Thank you so much for the update. I m a faithful blog reader for many years. Originally found your site when I was bento obsessed.

As a chronicly ill person I really feel for you and I do indeed know about that awful fatigue, it sucks... Wishing you well and good luck :)!

Hang in there, things will improve. It is always darkest before dawn. You are in the prayers of mine and many others. I wish for speedy and full recovery for you.

Hi Maki
I check in on your blog from time to time, but you know what, when a friend asked about Japanese cuisine, yours was the first that sprung to my mind. Because I've always felt that it's a good introduction for beginners who are completely new to Japanese cuisine, yet —and this is very important, for me — it's authentic and doesn't dumb down for Westerners. Just wanted to let you know your work has been appreciated and to thank you. Stay strong.

Maki, I visited your site for the first time and immediately had my question about slicing burdock answered. Your description was far better than the Japanese cookbook I bought - thank you for your excellent post.

I'm sorry to hear about your illness. I will pray for you to make a recovery and be able to again to taste and see all the goodness in life. Be blessed!

Dear Maki,

I'm so sorry to hear that you've been diagnosed with sarcoma and that you're going through chemo.

I discovered your blog 8 years ago and have your just bento cookbook. I love your 'mother's cooking' recipes, it's hard to find those sorts of recipes in English. I'm glad you still run your blog as I come back to it. I hope when you get well enough you can make a book of those recipes.

Wishing you much strength and a speedy recovery!

I wish you the best of luck and strength in your fight with cancer. Stay strong.

I also just went and bought your new, German edition. Will be interesting to compare with the English one. Your blog has been a source of inspiration and reference for me over almost ten years now. I hope that you are able to continue for many more years!

Dear Maki,
Lots of love for you. I hope you can find enormous amount of strength cope with this. I think about you often since you have opened up a new culture and way of cooking for me which helped me through very difficult times. I will keep sending you my love in my prayers and thoughts.
take care of you.

Just wanted to thanks for sharing your personal struggle and you knowledge of food especially your wonderful recipes over the years! I have learned so much about Japanese food, and culture through your posts. The first thing I tried making was your Beef Curry Recipe... Beyond yummy! It remains one of my families favorites! I also really enjoy the history of the food and all the explanations, as well as the cultural insights that you take the time to write about. Thanks be strong and kick cancers butt!

Sorry to hear you have been ill. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
I just discovered your site and love it. Also, I jut ordered your Just Bento Cookbook. Thank you so much for creating this site. You are in my prayers.

so happy you are okay maki, I'm a long time reader of your site and i use your bento cookbook almost everyday. Its one of my all time favourites. Hang in there and keep your spirits up! dealing with a long term illness can be physically and mentally draining. I hope your tastebuds recover soon and you can get joy again out of the foods you love! take care of yourself, it must have been so frightening.

much love, brenna

Longtime reader here. I was just thinking of you and your site, as my daughter is beginning school soon and I am prepping to begin making bentos for her lunches. Yours was one of the first blogs I ever followed, and I think of you and the blog often and fondly. Sending you much aloha from Hawaii, and prayers for strength and health.

Maki, I have been wondering how you were doing. Am sad for you to be going through these health challenges. Sending positive vibes and keeping you in my prayers. Thanks for inspiring me to cook Japanese.
I had the best soba in Kinosaki a few years back. Best baths, too.
With care,

I'm afraid I'm one of those people who does not comment on the internet, even when I really love a site, however I felt I just had to send you my very best wishes for your health and for a good recovery. I started following your blog years ago when I lived in China, then again in the UK and when I moved back to Switzerland. I have not had much bandwidth for blogs the past few years due to new family responsibilities, so did not realise that you had fallen ill again. I look forward very much to reading your new bento lunch book, and hope that when I move to the UK again next year that it will help me provide my little one with great school lunches. He loves eating sushi, but has not had the pleasure of a proper bento box yet. We are hoping to remedy that with a trip to Japan in spring, and I'll be sure to check your past blogs for more inspiration. Best wishes! A.

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