japan

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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