japan

Kanten vs. agar plus tokoroten in the Japan Times, plus a sweet version

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About the difference between kanten and agar, plus cool, slippery glassy noodles. continue reading...

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Maybe you can't have it all...

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Goryo Hamaguchi: Earthquakes, Modern Medicine and Yamasa Soy Sauce

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The life of a remarkable man, who used his wealth to help people in many meaningful ways. continue reading...

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Tokyo vs. Paris, Japan vs. France, from a food point of view

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Is Tokyo really a better place for a tourist to visit than Paris? As a Tokyo-native and current resident of France, I may have a few thoughts on that. ^_^ continue reading...

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Kinou Nani Tabeta? A manga about food and life, plus: Caramel Stewed Apples

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[Update] As of March 2014, Kinou Nani Tabeta?, re-titled What Did You Eat Yesterday? is now being released in English by Vertical! Volume 1 is available now. I am re-featuring this review that I wrote in December 2010 to commemorate this happy news. ^^

Kinou Nani Tabeta? (What did you eat yesterday?) is a wonderful manga series that features lots of delicious recipes. One of them is a supremely simple recipe for stewed caramel apples. continue reading...

Katsuyo Kobayashi, 1937-2014

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Yesterday, it was revealed that cookbook author and TV chef, presenter and teacher Katsuyo Kobayashi (小林カツ代) had died on January 23, 2014. She was 76 years old. She was one of the biggest culinary influences in my life. continue reading...

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Masataka Taketsuru, The Father of Japanese Whiskey And His Two Loves

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(I originally wrote this elsewhere but I thought you might enjoy reading it too without having to sign up there. :) So here it is. It involves a fine beverage, a man who made it his life’s works, and a story of enduring love against the odds.)

Whiskey first became widely available in Japan (least amongst the wealthy) in the 19th century, mostly in and after the 1870s, although it seems to have been introduced in the 1850s. Whiskey distilling in Japan did not get going until the 20th century though. The establishment of distilleries in Japan was spearheaded by a small group of men who fell in love with whiskey, and wanted to establish distilleries in Japan. continue reading...

Washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

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Japanese cuisine is now a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. continue reading...

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Artisanal rice and "ancient" heirloom rice in The Japan Times

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About a trend in Japan towards growing delicious artisanal rice - article in The Japan Times. continue reading...

Rubber ducks in Osaka

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The great city of Osaka is invaded by one giant rubber duck…and a small edible one. continue reading...

About shokupan, or Japanese sliced bread

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Thick slices of nutritionally empty white bread for the win! continue reading...

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Pictures from Japan

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A quick update to show I’m still alive ^_^ Also some photos from Japan. continue reading...

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The English version of Cookpad, the largest recipe site in Japan, launched today

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The English version of the biggest recipe site in Japan launched today. continue reading...

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Food packaging labeling for allergy-causing substances in Japan

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Last year I uploaded a series of printable cards for communicating dietary restrictions in Japan. This is a follow-up of sorts to this, with some information about food package labelling and allergy-causing products.

There are seven substances that must, by law, be indicated as being present on packaged foods that contain them in Japan. I’ve listed them below in this order: English: kanji: hiragana or katakana: roma-ji. continue reading...

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Japanese Cooking 101, Lesson 2 Bonus: Sushi Rice (Shari) plus Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Chirashizushi

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Once you know how to cook perfect Japanese style rice, sushi rice is a snap. continue reading...

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Japanese cuisine the most popular foreign cuisine..? What's your favorite?

This bit of news crossed my path today via Twitter, and it has me scratching my head a bit. In December 2012, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) conducted a web based survey in 7 countries - China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, France, the United States and Italy. continue reading...

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2-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake: You can still help

Today, March 11, is the 2nd year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the north-eastern coast of Honshu, the main island of Japan. I would write many things about it, but I’d like to focus on some ways you can help the victims of the earthquake, besides the usual places such as the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, that you may not have been aware of. continue reading...

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Pondering two food documentaries: Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Kings of Pastry

Two documentary films that show the importance of sushi, and pastry, in their respective cultures. continue reading...

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Recipe for Dorayaki, Doraemon's favorite snack

Doraemon's favorite snack

When I wrote about dorayaki, the sweet pancake-sandwich that is cat-robot Doraemon’s favorite snack for the Japan Times back in October, I promised to post a recipe for making the little pancakes. Well finally here it is! continue reading...

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Osechi (New Year's Feast): The Next Generation

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This year’s New Year’s feast back home in Japan was taken over by the next generation of women in our family. continue reading...

Shusse-uo (fish that get promoted) plus yellowtail teriyaki

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Fish that get on in life, plus a super-simple recipe for teriyaki fish made in the oven. continue reading...

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The Return of Iron Chef Japan, Part 2

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On Friday October 26, 2012 after 13 years, Ryouri no Tetsujin returned to the airwaves on Fuji TV. Does it live up to the legendary original? continue reading...

The Return of Iron Chef Japan, Part 1

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A long time ago, when I used to live in New York, there was a 2 hour long block of Japanese programming every morning from 7 to 9 on UHF channel 31 (I’ve forgotten what station that was). The programming originated from Fuji Sankei TV. The first hour was taken up by the news and such. The second hour was devoted to entertainment programming. One of the shows they aired was called Ryouri no Tetsujin (料理の鉄人). This was the original Iron Chef. continue reading...

All about dashi in The Japan Times

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Back to basics. continue reading...

Printable cards for communicating dietary restrictions in Japan

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A selection of print and cut cards to communicate your dietary requirements and restrictions in Japanese. I’ve edited it to add some more information about food product labeling. continue reading...

Dining Out in Japan

A collection of handy things for eating out in Japan.

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Sashimi, raw eggs and more in The Japan Times, plus raw proteins elsewhere

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This month’s Japan Times article is about all the raw-protein foods that are eaten in Japan, and consuming them safely, plus how to make a great plate of sashimi. More on both topics below. continue reading...

Eating sakura (cherry blossoms and leaves) article in the Japan Times

Sakurayu - cherry blossom 'tea'

My latest article in The Japan Times is about edible cherry blossoms and leaves. continue reading...

One year hence: My furusato, myself

It’s been quite a year. continue reading...

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Setsubun and beans article in the Japan Times and food superstitions

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This month’s Japan Times article is about the traditions and superstitions surrounding Setsubun, which is coming up on February 3rd. continue reading...

A super-efficient Japanese kitchen

A video showing one Japanese mom’s tiny yet super-efficient kitchen. continue reading...

My father's favorite Tampopo scene

How my late father related to a particular scene in the movie Tampopo. continue reading...

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Monday photos: Last chance sushi at Narita Airport Terminal 1

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The last meal before departure. continue reading...

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Monday photos: Kaki (Persimmons)

Persimmons (kaki)

To me, persimmons or kaki (柿)are the quintessential fall fruit. Although there are by some counts around 1,000 different varieties of persimmons in Japan alone, they can be broadly divided into two types: sweet (amagaki) and bitter or astringent (shibugaki). The ones in the photo above are the sweet kind, which can be eaten as is as soon as they are ripe. continue reading...

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Monday photos: Coffee break in Japan

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In Japan, coffee is just as ingrained in everyday life as tea. continue reading...

A full review of Supermarket Woman by Juzo Itami

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Looking in-depth at an old favorite. continue reading...

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Monday photos: Yuzu miso container from Yaosan, Kyoto

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A container that reveals what lies within. continue reading...

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Many-flavored Japanese Kit Kats: not really

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The famous flavored Kit Kats sold in Japan are not quite what you'd call delicious treats. continue reading...

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The "Indo Karii" at Nakamuraya in Shinjuku, Tokyo plus the three degrees of curry hotness

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Japanese curry hotness levels, and my favorite childhood curry. continue reading...

The House Vermont Curry Mystery

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How a Japanese curry mix got to be named after a New England state not exactly known for curry. continue reading...

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What's your national dish - or, is there any such thing?

Scenes from the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum (新横浜ラーメン博物館)

Did you know that ramen is considered to be one of the two main National Dishes of Japan? continue reading...

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Setsuden article in The Japan Times, plus suzumi or 'keeping cool' the traditional way

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This month in the Japan Times, I talk about setsuden (cutting down on electricity consumption) and suzumi (keeping cool). continue reading...

Clearing up the tea testing confusion (with updates)

This is a follow up to my previous post about above-safety limits levels of radioactive elements (namely, cesium) found on tea grown in Kanagawa prefecture. There seems to be some confusion over how tea is tested, due to some misleading news reports. (Note: I have updated this post several times to reflect new events.) continue reading...

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Organic and natural farming article in The Japan Times - how/where to shop (including Michi no Eki)

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This month’s Japan Times article by me is about organic and natural farmers and retailers in the Kanto region of Japan (that’s the area that includes Tokyo), including the thorny subject of how they are dealing with radioactive substance contamination on their crops. Because of space constraints I had to leave a lot out of course (that’s the nature of newspaper articles) so here are some supplemental things. continue reading...

Keeping Japan Going, Part 2: Konbini love, plus there are angels

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I’ve talked about the awesomeness of konbini, or Japanese convenience stores, before. Actually, almost everyone who has been to Japan raves about the awesomeness of konbini. continue reading...

Radiation contamination found on tea grown in Kanagawa prefecture (Ashigara tea)

Regarding the radiation contamination detected on tea leaves grown in Kanagawa prefecture. continue reading...

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Keeping Japan Going, Part 1: Kuroneko Yamato

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An update on what’s going on in Japan, especially in the Tokyo-Kanto area, plus a closeup look at one particular type of company that keeps modern Japan going. continue reading...

Spring vegetables article in the Japan Times

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A new article in the Japan Times about spring mountain vegetables, plus a bit more about vegetables. continue reading...

How one retailer is dealing with the vegetable crisis in eastern Japan

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There is an ongoing crisis of confidence regarding the safety of vegetables from a farming area that mainly serves the Tokyo metropolitan area. I went to my favorite produce seller in Yokohama to see how they are dealing with it. continue reading...

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Greetings from Japan

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I’m writing to you from my mother’s home in Yokohama, Japan, where I’ve been since Tuesday. It was another lovely early spring day today. The weather was warm enough to go outside without a coat. Kids were playing outside all day, since schools don’t start until next week. Their shrill voices waft all the way up to my mom’s 8th floor apartment. Normally I’d be a bit annoyed, but not now. continue reading...

Japan Earthquake: How to help, personal update

Update, how to donate. continue reading...

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Japan earthquake

I know many people who follow this blog are interested in Japan. I’ve been translating Japanese news reports on my Twitter account for some hours now, and will try to do so for at least the rest of the day. If you’d like to follow along please follow @makiwi.

Update: I am still updating the news on my Twitter stream. If you want to do something, please consider donating to the Red Cross. In the U.S., you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the international relief fund for Japan. Elsewhere or if you want to donate another way, try the International Red Cross site at IRFC.ORG.

(All of my family/friends are ok. Thank you for asking.)

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Hinamatsuri (Girl's Festival) article in the Japan Times, plus my aunt's antique hina dolls

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A new article and recipe for Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Festival) in the Japan Times. continue reading...

Respecting traditions

Pondering a little about religious and cultural traditions, and food. continue reading...

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Burning in a good year

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Flames to start the new year on a hopeful note. continue reading...

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Everything in osechi ryouri (Japanese New Year's feast food) has a meaning. (And a confession..)

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Take a look at some homemade osechi ryouri, or traditional New Year’s Day feast food. continue reading...

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Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! 明けましておめでとうございます。 continue reading...

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Toshikoshi Soba (year-end soba) article in The Japan Times, plus a bit about my niece and nephew

img: a hot and steamy bowl of soba noodles to end the year

A new article in The Japan Times about toshikoshi soba. Plus, a little about my favorite food-eating model, Lena-chan, and her brother Lyoh. continue reading...

Taimeiken, Nihonbashi, Tokyo - home of Tampopo Omuraisu (rice omelette)

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I finally made it to Taimeiken, an old time yoshoku restaurant in Nihonbashi, to indulge in the original Tampopo Omuraisu (rice omelette). Yes, that Tampopo. continue reading...

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Winter fish article in the Japan Times and an evening meal at my mom's

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A new article in The Japan Times about winter fish, and how fish fits into a typical Japanese meal. continue reading...

A visit to Obana, a traditional Edo-mae unagi-ya (old Tokyo style eel restaurant)

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A little slice of old Tokyo in an out-of-the-way area of Tokyo, Obana is an unagi-ya (eel restaurant) that even someone who’s not an unagi fan can love. continue reading...

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A visit to the Shin Yokohama Raumen (Ramen) Museum

Scenes from the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum (新横浜ラーメン博物館)

A museum that pays homage to a single type of dish? Why not - this is Japan after all. continue reading...

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Shinmai (new harvest rice) and onigiri article in the Japan Times

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I have a new article in today’s edition of The Japan Times, available online here, or in the print edition. continue reading...

Tororo Soba (Slimy soba noodles with grated nagaimo)

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Here’s a rather unusual (to Western tastes anyway) way to enjoy cold soba noodles - with slimy grated nagaimo root. continue reading...

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Holy Matsutake!

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It’s matsutake season! Let’s see just how much you pay for one of the most expensive foodstuffs on earth. continue reading...

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Squid and vegetable ohitashi, plus some Japanese home meals

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A simple side dish or salad to serve as part of a Japanese meal, or on its own. Plus, take a look at a couple of real Japanese home meals! continue reading...

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Eggplant article and eggplant-beef-miso recipe in The Japan Times

A new article and recipe by yours truly is now available on The Japan Times web site, as well as in its print edition if you’re in Japan. The subject this time is eggplants (aubergines). It also includes a recipe of course! The recipe combines delicious fall eggplants with a miso-meat sauce or sorts.

Incidentally, although the original recipe calls for thinly sliced beef, it works well with ground beef too. This is a shot of a version I made using ground beef.

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This dish is great hot or cold, so make some for dinner and save a little for your bento the next day. Really yum!

Japanese food and beverages for diabetics and low-carb eaters

Since I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, I’ve been doing a lot of research into what is recommended for diabetics in Japan to eat. There are several issues to keep in mind when eating or making Japanese style dishes, so I thought I’d share these here. Whether you’re planning to travel to Japan or are just a fan of Japanese cooking and restaurants, I hope you’ll find this useful. continue reading...

3 posts about Satoshi Kon

Pointing to something non-food on my personal site. continue reading...

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Wacky diets everywhere

About some weird ‘diet’ pills labeled Japanese, even though they aren’t from Japan at all, plus some REAL Japanese diets that are popular now. continue reading...

Radio Exercise (Radio Taiso) and the Japanese summer

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Using a form of exercise that’s a Japanese cultural institution, to get my circulation going while I’m stuck in a French hospital. continue reading...

The Panasonic Lumix GF-1, and pondering the photography needs of a food blogger

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(Hi everyone. As Guruman posted, I was hospitalized for emergency surgery 2 weeks ago, and I’m still in hospital unfortunately. So there won’t be any new recipes from me for the time being. However, I still have lots of topics from my Japan trip to talk about. Here’s an article I was working on before I had to go to the doctor, and I was able to finish it up today finally. I’ll try to be back to full throttle real soon!)

Back in March, I got a new camera in Tokyo; the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. I think this one just might be the ideal camera for many food bloggers who are looking to upgrade their point-and-shoots, or for a lighter alternative to a DSLR. Here’s a review of the micro four-thirds format itself and this camera in particular. It’s not a very technical review - there are plenty of those online elsewhere. Instead it’s focused on the photography needs of a typical food blogger. continue reading...

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French natto!

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As I slowly settle in to my new life here in France, I’m finding out about quite a lot of interesting local suppliers of the things that I want to eat, wear, sit on, or otherwise use. But I never thought that I’d find this: French natto, as in natto made right here in my region of France! continue reading...

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Postcards from Kyoto - Surfaces, Keibunsha and conclusion

Tsubaki (camellia) 'fountain' at Honen-in, Kyoto

The final post in my Postcards from Kyoto series, with some reflections on what Kyoto stands for, plus more shopping and food. continue reading...

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Postcards from Kyoto - Misuyabari and Hakotou, for lovers of sewing and handcrafts

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This edition of the Postcards from Kyoto has no food in it…but if you’re a fan of handcrafts and sewing and the like, read on… continue reading...

Postcards from Kyoto - Nishiki Market, Masugata Arcade and the traditional sho-tengai

This is the third in my Postcards from Kyoto series.

The traditional center of life in a Japanese town is the sho-tengai (商店街), a street or collection of streets where all the local shops congregate. Often it is wholly or partially covered and made into a indoor shopping mall or arcade.

The most famous sho-tengai in Kyoto, and arguably in Japan, is Nishiki Ichiba (or Nishiki Shijo - the word for market, 市場, can be read either way) or Nishiki Market (錦市場), which proudly calls itself Kyoto’s Kitchen. Although it’s called a market, it is a sho-tengai really rather than a market in the European sense; it’s a narrow, covered street lined with small stores.

Nishiki Market, Kyoto continue reading...

Sakura, Sakura: My ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) at Sankei-en, Yokohama

Cherry tree blossoms (sakura) at Sankei-en, Yokohama

I will get back to my Kyoto Postcards, but I wanted to talk a little about cherry blossoms first, before April ends.

I have written about the ohanami, or cherry blossom viewing, culture in Japan previously. As I wrote back then, one of the things I miss about not living in Japan is the cherry blossoms in the spring. For this trip back home, I wanted to be sure not to miss the cherry blossoms. continue reading...

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Postcards from Kyoto - Tofu from bean to plate: Kamo Tofu Kinki and Sosoan Restaurant

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When you go to Kyoto, you must have at least one tofu meal. It’s just the way it is. Fresh tofu in Japan is far better than it is anywhere else, and the tofu in Kyoto is generally held to be the best in the country. This is generally attributed to the skill, refined court and/or temple-influenced culture and the quality of the local water. Whatever the reason, to most Japanese people Kyoto means tofu, and vice versa. A visit to a fine Kyoto tofu restaurant is very likely to convert even the most die-hard carnivore into a tofu fan.

During my week in Kyoto, I was able to pursue one family business’s vision of what tofu should be from beginning to end. Kamo Tofu Kinki, a company that’s been in business since 1834, makes tofu and related products in two tiny workshops located in the Gion Kiya-cho area of Kyoto. Later on, I visited Sosoan, the tofu restaurant owned and operated by Kinki for a multi-course tofu feast. continue reading...

Postcards from Kyoto - Sweet destinations: Kagizen Yoshifusa and Inoda Coffee

Kuzukiri at Kagizen

Kyoto, the former imperial capital, is the top tourist destination in Japan for many good reasons. A lot has been written about this city already, and it’s impossible to describe in a few sentences - so I’m not going to try to. Instead, I’ll share some of my favorite destinations in a series of pictures and short descriptions — as postcards if you will. Here’s my first postcard from Kyoto.

Kyoto is a city that hits the sweet spot for me in more ways than one. It is dripping with history, has fantastic shops, great art and craft galleries, and so many places to have a wonderful meal. It also has a lot of literal sweet spots. Perhaps because of its history as the seat of the imperial court, where ladies influenced much of the culture, there are many amami dokoro, or places to enjoy a bite of something sweet, both traditional and modern. continue reading...

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A visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo

Approaching the Ghibli Museum

Back in early February, my sister Mayumi and I went to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, a suburb of Tokyo. Here’s a brief report, with practical details as to how to get there and so on. I know that many Just Hungry readers are Ghibli fans, so I hope you find it useful. continue reading...

A tour through a fabulous Japanese department store food hall - Yokohama Takashimaya

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One must-do in Japan for anyone interested even remotely interested in food is a visit to a depachika(see footnotes), or department store basement food hall. One of the more impressive food halls that I have seen is in the Yokohama branch of the Takashimaya department store. I recently had a chance to tour of the Yokohama Takashimaya food halls.

Warning: Lots of mouth-watering pictures to follow! continue reading...

Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you from Japan!

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Cool stuff from Japan: Beautiful traditional candies

Sugar candies from Kyoto

Jewel-like candies are a long time tradition in Japan, and reflects the country’s love of small, beautiful and cute things. continue reading...

Cool stuff from Japan: Plastic food models used for nutrition education

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Those famous realistic plastic food models aren’t just used for restaurant displays in Japan. They are used for dietary and nutritional education in hospitals as well. continue reading...

Cool stuff from Japan: Mammoth Meat?! Snack

If there’s one thing I don’t like about Japan, it’s that everywhere you go, there are constant reminders to do this, don’t do this, go here, go there, and so on. When you’re going up or down an escalator, a high pitched polite (usually female) voice tells you to watch your step, hold your kid’s hand, stay within the lines, don’t put pointy things like umbrellas between the steps, and whatever you do, don’t get your long hair caught somewhere (!). On a bus, not only does that high-pitched female voice (probably not the same voice, but they sound alike) tell you what the next stop and the next next stop are, but the bus driver usually repeats that information right after it’s been announced. The female voice also tells you to not stand up until the bus comes to a full halt, don’t smoke at the bus stop, give up your seat to the elderly…blah, blah blah, every 3 minutes. And as for the trains… it’s enough to drive one batty. You just have to tune it out, if you can. I’m sort of trained to listen to and obey public transportation announcements (since they actually mean something in Switzerland) so I’m having a hard time.

Which somehow brings us to today’s Cool (or in this case, wacky) item: Mammoth meat snack!

Mammoth meat snack! continue reading...

Cool stuff from Japan: Soy milk that's an instant tofu 'kit'

Soy milk bottle with nigari packet

During my stay in Japan, I thought I’d feature some cool stuff (or things that you all may find cool) that I’ve seen. Here is a bottle of soy milk or tounyuu (豆乳) that I got at a shop in the local Tokyuu line train station (or in other words, it’s not like a special brand or anything). continue reading...

In Japan!

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I’m in Japan! I’ll be here for the next three months. I am here primarily for two reasons: My mother is in hospital; and the bento cookbook photoshoot will commence next month. But of course I’ll be filing plenty of reports on what I’ve done, not to mention eaten, here! I’ll be taking and uploading photos every day, which you can follow here on flickr.

The photo above is of dinner last night with family - a seafood nabe and a sashimi assortment. Delicious and so simple, and not at all easy (or inexpensive) to recreate properly outside of Japan!

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Fugu (puffer fish): Would you or wouldn't you?

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(Note: Your responses to the question posed below may be translated for a Japanese blog! Read on…)

Even though I’m Japanese, I do think that we eat an awful lot of food that could be considered to be odd. One of them is the infamous fugu, or puffer fish. Fugu’s main claim to fame, besides its extraordinary appearance (it puffs itself up to make itself look a lot bigger to predators), is that its skin and organs are highly poisonous. Nevertheless, it’s considered to be a great delicacy in Japan. It’s now fugu season in fact, so many people are tucking in to fugu sashi (fugu sashimi), fugu nabe (fugu hotpot), and so on. continue reading...

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Real beef

Some real meat this time. continue reading...

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Poverty, rice, and Air Yakiniku

A bit about Air Yakiniku, an odd slice of Japan. continue reading...

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Traditional Japanese strategies for combatting natsubate, or the dog days of summer

IMG: sleeping cat.

A cat of our acquaintance’s natsubate strategy: All-day naps in the shade.

August is particularly bad in the Tokyo area where I’m from, as it is in most parts of Japan except for the northern parts of Hokkaido. It gets really hot, and the high humidity makes everything and everyone moist, sticky and generally nasty. There’s a bit of relief in the form of a brief evening thunderstorm (夕立 ゆうだち yuudachi) most days, but the respite is temporary. Getting a decent night’s sleep without air conditioning is pretty much impossible.

The term to describe the stage of lethargy and fatigue brought on by this hot, humid weather is 夏バテ (なつばて natsubabe; literally ‘summer fatigue’). Japanese people have devised various ways of combatting it. Some are food related, and some aren’t, but here are some of my favorites. continue reading...

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A followup report on being vegan in Japan

Asha, the reader who sent me the question that inspired me to write Japan: A Survival Guide for Vegans has sent in a great follow-up comment. I’ve posted it here so you won’t miss it. She found it a lot easier to follow her vegan regime in Tokyo than in Nagasaki, where she has been living. That makes sense I thin: any major metropolitan area these days is likely to have many people who are vegan or at least interested in a vegan way of eating, while the same might not hold true for more regional towns (Nagasaki has a long history of being a very international city, but is much smaller than Tokyo of course.)

What follows are Asha’s words. continue reading...

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Japan: A Survival Guide For Vegans

At the moment I’m sitting in a cottage in France (recovering from a cold, but that’s another story), a land notorious for not being so vegan friendly except in the larger cities. The native cuisine is generally not vegan - even vegetable dishes often use things like dairy products or animal fats or stock in the cooking process, which can make things difficult. But if you are a vegan you probably know about this, and come prepared accordingly. (I think it’s a lot easier for lacto-ovo vegetarians in France; you could live on the delicious bread and cheese.)

If you are going to Japan, you might think that being vegan would be a lot easier. Japanese cuisine has a reputation for using lots of vegetables, seaweed and other vegan-friendly products. There is even a particular kind of cuisine in Japan called sho-jin ryouri (精進料理), a mostly vegan temple cuisine, with a long and highly regarded tradition.

But as a reader who emailed me recently found out, being a vegan in Japan is just as hard as it is in Europe. continue reading...

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Wagashi are not some sort of magic Japanese diet food

Someone alerted me to this entry on the Health.com blog which quotes me. (Health.com is a Time Inc. property.) I just wanted to set some things straight, because a couple of the statements there are just not right. continue reading...

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Of cherry blossoms, ohanami and Japanese culture

It may surprise you to read this, but I do not actually miss living in Japan that much generally, except for my family and the food. My home territory there is the greater Tokyo area, and while Tokyo is a great metropolis, it’s also unbearably congested and you are living on top of other people all the time. To borrow a term used for another place in the world, generally speaking it’s a nice place to visit, but I’m not sure (given a choice) that I’d want to live there. But there are certain times of the year when I do wish I were there, and right now is one of them. It’s cherry blossom time. continue reading...

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Food related shopping places in Japan you should visit

Please limit your suggestions to stores and places that are food-related: edibles, supplies, equipment, etc. continue reading...

My take on why Japanese people in Japan don't get that fat

Here are some rambling thoughts on why, to paraphrase the title of a book, Japanese People Aren’t That Fat. continue reading...

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