Sunday, October 17, 2010

Autumn Leaves

It must be so pretty everywhere in Japan right now.
Trees are turning color.
Ginkgo trees are sunshine yellow and Japanese maple trees are burning red.
It is just picture perfect.
I wonder if it turns out yellow and red when you take a satellite photo of Japan.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I love mushroom dishes especially the ones in Japanese cuisine.
You can find enoki, shitake, shimeji or maitake mushrooms at American markets now these days, but not matsutake.
This mushroom called matsutake has an amazing aroma and just triggers your appetite.
I saw some at Japanese and Korean super markets in LA.  Maybe I should try them soon!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sweet potatoes

It will be a perfect time to eat sweet potatoes soon in Japan :D
There are many different type of sweet potato dishes, my favorite one is called "sweet potato"......!

It is a sweet that is made out of sweet potatoes.  Basically it is mashed sweet potatoes mixed with sugar, milk, butter, cinnamon or vanilla that is formed in oval in most cases with yolk brushed over and baked.
We call sweet potatoes satsuma imo in Japanese and the sweet potato sweets "sweet potato."

It sounds more like "sui - to po te to" (sue e eat oh poe te toe)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Convenient Stores

I miss conbini or convenience (convenient) stores in Japan.
They have literally everything you need.
If you forget something, you just need to go to one of conbinis.
You can find anything you need.
They have anything from food to underwear.
It could be your office.
You can buy post stamps.
You can make photo copies and send faxes.
It could be your kitchen.
They heat up your bento box.
They have both hot and cold canned drinks.
They are just so convenient!!!
Yes there is Famima in LA, but it's just different...

Monday, August 2, 2010


There are so many festivals in Japan during the summer!
I love going there in my yukata, which is a summer kimono!
My favorite ones are firework festivals.  Japanese fire works come in many colors and they are huge in the sky.
They are usually held by the rivers and the reflection on water is amazing.

Would it be great to have a ice cold beer or sake watching fire works outside with your friends?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Red Beans

Japanese people love sweetened red beans.  They go well with anything!
You can wrap it with a rice cake or wrap rice cakes with it ;)  It tastes amazing with ice cream, especially the green tea flavor.  An-pan or red bean filled bread is also popular.  
It is not only sweet but it is really healthy too.  People say that they have lots of vitamin B1.  That helps to reduce fatigue, stiff shoulders, muscle ache, etc.
I am sure eating too much would not help so much...but it is good to know that at least it is some way healthy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Print Club

The photo booth called Print Club in Japan is getting more and more popular.
I used to take photos with my friends and brothers all the time.

Recently the photo booth machine offered "a beautiful skin."
Your face looks really smooth and shiny on the photos.
That is amazing.  I look completely different!
I mean I look how I want my skin to look like in the reality.

Now they have one that makes your eyes bigger!!!
I have never tried this one before, but that is almost like getting plastic surgery virtually.
You will not be able to tell who they are anymore.
I wonder if people use them for driver's license or passport...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rice Fields

This time of year in Japan, the rice fields get really green and pretty.
I have never seen one in the States, but they must have an amazing scenery as well.
When I visited Bali Island, there were rice fields on mountain slopes and they looked like an art work.
It is always good to eat rice and also wonderful to look at when they grow.
How amazing rice is!
I just love the huge green fields that go on forever like the ocean.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wet Towel

When you go to restaurants in Japan, the first thing you receive there is the wet towel.  It is for cleaning the hands before the meal.  They are either warm or cold.  This custom is getting known world wide now.  

One day I was at a Japanese restaurant and saw this one father telling his family that Japanese people clean their faces with the towel.  The family was all rubbing their faces...

Now I remember that the culture is learned, integrated and evolved according to anthropology.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vending Machines

There are many vending machines everywhere in Japan.  I used to buy canned coffee and juice from it all the time.
The vending machines talk too.  They say, "irasshaimase" or "welcome" when you put money and "arigatogozaimashita" or "thank you very much" when you pick a drink.
Mostly they are for soft drinks, but there are vending machines that sell other items.

Here is a photo of a cigarette vending machine.

This one sells alcohol.  You can see Asahi and Kirin.

I could not find photos of the others, but I have seen ones with ice cream, rice, magazines, and other products.  It is convenient that you don't need to be in a line at a store.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cell Phones

Most of us in the States cannot live without our cell phones now days.
The same is definitely true in Japan.
The only difference is that people absolutely love decorating their phones there.
I have some cell phones with decorations here in the US but the ones in Japan are way busier!
A lot of Japanese girls love their cell phones to have rhinestones and flowers.  There are shops where they specialize in decorating cell phones.

Some people have too much decoration and the cell phone itself looks smaller.

I guess you can never lose your cell phone this way then ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It's getting hotter every day and I feel like having beer as everyone else does.
It is really popular to have beer in a ceramic cup or mug in Japan.
The bubbles from the beer froth get really tiny and very creamy once it's poured in.
I recommend to use unglazed cups!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Amazing Soy Beans

Soy beans are amazing when I think about it.
It tastes so good when you boil them and sprinkle some salt.

You can mix edamame beans with steamed rice and saturate it with soy sauce.

Soy sauce is made out of soy beans.
Miso paste is made out of soy beans.

Tofu is made out of soy beans.

Soy milk is made out of soy beans.

Natto is made out of soy beans.

From one kind of plant, you can enjoy a lot of different flavors.


Dishcloth gourd, sponge cucumber or luffa is a very common plant in Japan.
They are very strong and can grow anywhere.
You probably have seen a dried one as a body wash sponge.

In Japan, we plant them in elementary school and make the sponges.
We also make facial lotion and it soothes your skin.

Lately in Tokyo, people use them to create a curtain over the windows to make shades, this way they can save energy and cost. What a great idea they've got!
I would love to try that one day when I have a house.

Friday, June 25, 2010


My friend seems he is catching a cold. He sounds like he is losing his voice.
Some people know tea with ginger is good for your throat.
What do you do when you feel like you are getting sick?

In Japan, we drink
Basically it is sake mixed with a raw egg.
It has to be a very fresh egg, of course. The eggs in Japan are freshly laid and people eat them raw all the time.
Here is a recipe. If you ever go visit Japan, you can try this.

1) Warm sake.
2) Put row egg and sugar in a bowl and mix them well.
3) Strain it to make it smooth.
4) Pour sake into egg little by little as stirring it.
5) You can add little ginger or use honey instead of sugar.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What is that?

A lot of people have asked me what they are.
The white looking threads on sushi or sashimi plate.
Some people even asked me if they are edible.
It's called tsuma. They are made out of daikon or Japanese radish.

In Japan, tsuma could be seaweed.
They are edible and good for you. They are used to decorate the plate, but also the radish and seaweed decrease the smell of raw fish and kill the germs!


Sake is popular here in California.
You find it at any sushi restaurants.

I of course love drinking it, but also love taking a bath in it.
You do not use a whole bottle of sake in the tub.
You can put a half cup of sake and it makes your skin so smooth.
It's best to get the ones with no additives.
It really changes your skin!
Don't worry you won't get drunk bathing in it :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tofu Ice Cream

It is getting hot every day and we crave for ice cream :)
I crave for this one ice cream from Kyoto.

When I visited Kyoto, I ran into an amazing tofu ice cream.
I had had tofu ice cream many times and even made one before, but this one was exquisite!
The texture was really smooth and creamy, but light.
You don't feel like you are eating a lot of fat. You feel healthy.
I wish I could obtain the recipe. I would open a store in an instant!
The most unique part of the ice cream is that it does not fall when you put it upside down!!!
How does that work?
I just don't know.
The guy who invented this said it was a secret recipe...
Here's the photo I took of the ice cream I ordered and Tofu ice cream man.

Monday, June 21, 2010


June is a rainy season in Japan.
It is humid and your feet get soaked wet.
The public transportation gets muggy inside.
The smell of cigarettes becomes stronger in restaurants and cafes.
The only thing makes me smile is hydrangea flowers.
They bloom fully in blue, pink, and purple.
Especially in concrete jungle, they give a peaceful colorful moment.

Monday, April 5, 2010


April is the beginning of the new school year in Japan.
Almost every elementary school child wears a backpack called a randoseru. (According to Wikipedia, it is a Dutch word meaning backpack evolved into Japanese.)
It is really cute that little children who go to school for the first time are so excited walking with the randoseru on their back. It is so big, they have a hard time balancing it. I thought it was a cute and funny tradition we have in Japan.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It is the best season now for viewing sakura or cherry blossoms in Japan.
Exactly 2 years ago my family and I went back to Japan to take a trip with my grandmother.
We visited this city in south where she first met my grandfather before they got married.
I clearly remember how beautiful cherry blossoms were blooming everywhere in Japan two years ago.
Last Saturday in Japan time, my grandmother passed away.
It just happened all of sudden.
Nobody expected this would happen this early.
I am shocked and still struggling to comprehend that she is gone.
At the same time, I strongly feel that she is in a better place.
Her funeral is surrounded by full of sakura blossoms.
Here is my favorite poetry from Hojoki which is written in Kamakura Period (1185 - 1333) that I want to share.

Though the river's current never fails, the water passing, moment by moment, is never the same. Where the current pools, bubbles form on the surface, bursting and disappearing as others rise to replace them, none lasting long. In this world, people and their dwelling places are like that, always changing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hot Bath

There are many traditional Japanese things I have not tried but want to try.
One of them is called Goemon-buro. This is a bath tub where people take baths outside in the yard.

It is a special bath tub made out of cast iron. Water is warmed by direct flame with firewood. The tub of course gets really hot so you need to use a wood board. You balance yourself by standing on the board cutout. As you stand on it, you will start to sink down to the bottom. You don't want to fall over.

How nerve racking is that? You cannot even close your eyes to relax! That was what I was thinking while taking a hot bath with my eyes closed...

As a side note, Goemon (as pictured above) is a legendary bandit hero who stole gold and valuables and gave them to the poor, but I still have yet to research how they relate.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kabuki Wood Block Print

I was reading this book about kabuki and all of sudden it made me feel like collecting wood block prints.
The more I learn about kabuki, the more I want to go a theatre and actually see one.
I have been to kabuki theatre when I used to live in Japan, but back then I had no knowledge about it and was just enjoying the unique movements, beautiful kimono, and my lunch.
Now that I am in the US, I started appreciating what my home country offers.
I thought it would be nice to have some little Japanese flavor here at home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Snowy Dream

I heard that it was snowing in Tokyo a few days ago.
It usually snows everywhere in Japan in February.
Especially in northern parts of Japan.

As a small child, I always dreamed to play in kamakura, a snow igloo.
I read and heard about it that people in north make them and have a little party inside.
I looked at photos of these snow huts with warm light inside.
I still have not experienced it.

Maybe I should try it when I visit someone in East Coast.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I was at a supermarket and saw a few people coughing.
In Japan, we wear a mask when it's really dry or you feel like you are catching cold.
I think it is because it is more condensed with population and people are so close to each other everywhere.
We not only try to avoid getting sick, but try not to spread the virus you have.
It is a courtesy and that is something everyone does there.

My mother of course was wearing one when she felt sick.
That was just a few weeks after we just moved here.
Yes, she was wearing it in California.
People were staring at her as if she was doing something weird.
She was wondering for a while why people were looking at her strangely.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


In Japan, Plum trees start blooming at the beginning of February.
They decorate the cold sky with reddish pink and white flowers.
I always feel that spring is near us...

My friend from Japan has arrived here to study last week and I visited her.
She gave a piece of dried umeboshi, sour plum, to chew on while driving.
As soon as I tasted the sweet and sour juice in my mouth, I remembered the flowers of plume blooming this season.
It was a nice sense of memory I had.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


What do you usually eat when you crave a light snack?
Is it a sandwich? Crackers? Or sweets?

I have mentioned that I crave for sweets in my last blog.
Now I'd like to talk about miso, fermented soy bean paste.
Many of you have tried miso soup at local Japanese restaurants or even Yoshinoya if you happen to live in southern California.

When I get a little hungry, but don't crave for sweets, I make miso onigiri, rice ball.
To make it, you simply place some steamed rice on your wet hands and cup them to make it into triangle or ball shape and put some miso paste all around it.
It has less calorie than eating chocolate or cookies and tastes just great.
(Be careful putting too much paste)

I love foods so much! I guess I cannot stop talking about food...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sweet Craving

I love sweets. I love any type of sweets.
Sometimes I crave for certain sweets.
Chocolate, tiramisu, cheesecake, caramel, ice cream...etc. etc.
Sometimes I crave for anko, sweetened red beans.
You probably have tried red bean ice cream at a Japanese restaurant or from Trader Joe's.
What I crave for is a type of mochi called Akafuku, rice cake covered with anko from Ise City in Japan.
They have a little cafe in Ise by Ise Jingu, Ise Grand Shrine, in Mie prefecture.
Not only does this taste amazing, this traditional Japanese architecture offers a great experience.

You can watch ladies making this with their hands over the glass.
They sit on their knees the whole time while they are making it.
Of course, freshly made mochi tastes just amazing!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rainy Days

It's been raining and hailing everyday in Southern California this week.
This thunder storm reminds me of typhoons in Japan.
I used to walk in heels with an umbrella in Tokyo and get soaking wet.
Umbrellas get blown upside down and ripped by the wind.
Basically you just hold on to a skinny pole as if it covers you from water.
Now I am here struggling with driving on a windy freeway.
Even people have a hard time in a huge metal vehicles with this storm.
I wonder how people used to deal with typhoons in Japan a long time ago.
They only had umbrella made with paper and bamboo with natural oils...