Wednesday, August 31, 2016

this and that

Monday, it rained

A typhoon that was near Okinawa, boomeranged and came back towards Honshu.

It hit Tohoku and Hokkaido on Tuesday.

Can you believe that this is the 3rd or 4th (I can't remember) typhoon to hit Hokkaido this year?! They almost never get typhoons their way.

Tons of melons, pears, potatoes and onions, wasted by the storm.

I hope these farmers will be able to make ends meet.

Tuesday, the weather was cool! Like 10 degrees different from what we've been experiencing AND no humidity.

We had a notice that the gas company would be coming between 9:00-17:00 to change our meter.

Satoshi called them on Sunday to see if they could come in the morning.

The guy on the other end, said that he would put us down for the morning as a request, but wasn't sure when the guy doing the actual job would be able to come by.

9:15, the guy to change the meter came...9:30 he was finished and moved on to another resident's apartment! Whoo!

Talk about efficient.

Since the weather was so nice, I went for a walk. First time, since coming back from Hawaii.

Was nice to get out and about.

I hear that the temps will go back up later this week, so will enjoy this cooler weather while I can.

How are things where you are?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


After seeing Deb's post, using spiralized veggies.

I was intrigued in getting a spiralizer for myself.

Of course, not wanting to invest too much money into the gadget, I looked online as I was debating between the vegetti and the microplane versions.

What sold me on the vegetti was the safety cap.

It helps you spiralize the very end of the veg without having to put your fingers in danger.

After washing half a zucchini and a small carrot, I used the "thin" side and came out with a l-o-n-g piece of zucchini and a l-o-n-g piece of carrot.

Even though this was "thin" the "noodles" seemed quite thick.

Satoshi was impressed at how you can use almost all of the vegetable.

We cut the remaining parts of the vegetable and tossed it in with our "noodles".

For our first experiment, we tried making kakiage (vegetable tempura).

Besides the zucchini and carrots, we added some red onion, okra, shiso, myoga and shrimp.

The bulk of these came out limp because a) the recipe for the koromo (batter) didn't instruct needing an egg, so it didn't hold anything together and b) my "helper" was impatient while frying these up.

After adding the egg to the batter and waiting a little longer while they fried, these came out quite crisp.

I'm glad we tried this, and look forward to trying different experiments with other vegetables.

Monday, August 29, 2016


A well-known Sapporo sweets shop, Kinotoya, branched out and started selling these cheese tarts, under the name BAKE.

Last August, they opened a shop at Hanshin's food floor and of course the lines were krazy!

A year later, I finally got to try them.

On their instruction sheet they said you could eat it cold, frozen, room temperature or warmed up.

I enjoyed this cold.

The cream cheese was tart and the crust more like a cookie.

I'm glad I was able to try this without having to stand in line.

I'll be back.

Hanshin Department Store, B1
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6348.8502
Open from 10:00-20:00 (Sun, Mon, Tues), 10:00-21:00 (Wed-Sat)
Closed when Hanshin Department Store is

Thursday, August 25, 2016

jizobon & gangara fire festival

Yesterday was Jizobon, where people give thanks to Ojizoson, who watches over the children.

I noticed all the tiny shrines around our shopping arcade decorated with chochin (paper lanterns) and offerings. There were also some priests sitting in front of some of the shrines saying prayers.

This was my first time seeing this and I had to look online to figure what it was. (learned something new!)

Satoshi said that when he was a child, Jizobon was celebrated at the furoya-san (public bath), dunno if they have tiny shrines, next door to MIL's. When I asked him what they did, he said they just played games and ate candy...

Last night was also the Gangara Fire Festival, which I've written about before, here.

Summer seems to be coming to a close with all these events, but the weather dude says that the heat & humidity will continue to linger awhile.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

boxed water

Awhile back we received this 20 liter box of mineral water from Satoshi's friend.

Satoshi says we received one many moons ago from the same friend, but I don't remember. (sorry!)

Anyway, I was really impressed with the nozzle to pour the water.

It looks like those tabs when you open a shoyu or vinegar bottle here in Japan.

But, instead of a soft plastic, it is kinda stretchy like a rubber band.

Pull on it and the water comes out, release and the water stops.

Sorry I couldn't get a shot of the water coming out.

We opened the box at the beginning of August and are almost finished drinking the 20 liters...we really appreciated this gift (thank you!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

inagawa fireworks

I think I told you how bummed we were to see that apartment complex come up last year, here.

Well, between the two buildings (the new apartment and an older one), we could see the fireworks...whoo!

Here's a short video.

Monday, August 22, 2016

café quarirengue

Most times when we go to Kyoto, we visit MIL, so we don't do much holo-holo (galavanting).

I've had Café Quarirengue bookmarked for awhile now, so it was nice that we could check it out this past Saturday.

I ordered their coffee jelly parfait...vanilla ice cream, topped with cornflakes, some candied walnuts and coffee gelatin...delicious!

Satoshi ordered their matcha cake with a coffee...the cake was dense like good!

The ceramics that they served everything in were so pretty.

Even though the heat and humidity was pretty miserable, I'm glad we got to check this place out.

I'll be back!

Café Quarirengue
74-4 Yanagihachimancho
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Closed Fridays
Hours: 11:30-18:00

Friday, August 19, 2016

ice maker

It's still blazing over here, so let's talk about ice.

Last month when I was in Hawaii, Aunty M's ice maker went kaput.

She mentioned that someone would need to come and fix it.

Also awhile back, BFF, W mentioned if she wanted her refridge to make ice, she would need to install a waterline...

Apparently most U.S. refrigerators with ice makers need to be near a waterline, like near the sink.

In Japan though, our ice making refrigerators can be placed anywhere there is a plug, because we have a cartridge that we fill with water.

We put this cartridge directly into our refridge.

The water is sucked out and brought down to the ice making area of the freezer.

"Cool", yeah?!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

watermelon rind pickles

A friend on Instagram, uploaded a photo of watermelon rind pickles.

It sounded so easy that I had to try.

She didn't give measurements, so I's what I did...

rind of less than 1/8 of watermelon
1/2 tablespoon Hawaiian salt (coarse salt if you don't have Hawaiian salt)

Cut the green part off
Slice into 1/2 inch matchsticks
Sprinkle the salt
Massage and leave for a couple of hours
Rinse before eating

A lot of recipes online involve cooking the rind, but I like this version because there is no cooking involved.

Perfect for summer!

NOTES: After rinsing, this was still quite salty, so I would cut back the amount of salt to a teaspoon.

Also, I think leaving a little "red" makes it more photogenic.

This was super crunchy and tastes like cucumbers.

I'm making this again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Sunday, we thought hanging out by the Minoo Falls would be a nice way to keep cool...

We walked in 3.8 kilometers (2.3 miles) to the falls...

We thought ahead and bought some sandwiches to eat once we reached the falls.

There were tons of people...

Before reaching the falls though, we came across this funky beetle. First time for me to see a blingy reddish one (usually they are blingy bluish-green).

I shot a short video of the falls here, if you are interested, please take a look.

Then this guy came out to look for unattended bento...Of course, Satoshi went up close to it to take its photo...

Apparently he has not learned his lesson when it comes to monkeys....sigh.

The monkey crossed over to where others were eating, it was a good thing no one got hurt, but I was shocked that no one warned those people, they were more intent on filming the whole thing on their phones...

Since the falls did not relieve any heat or humidity, we decided to hang out at Yamamoto Coffee which is located at the middle of the park.

Satoshi ordered a melon cream soda while I ordered a coffee float.

In the afternoon, there was a freak rainstorm that lasted an hour or so, with lightning and thunder.

Lots of excitement, yeah?! How was your Sunday?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

keeping cool

Even though the heat and humidity have been brutal this year, I've been keeping cool with shave ice.

If it's on the menu, I'll order it...

This cappuccino shave ice is what I had when Satoshi and I went to Kyoto...this was my mid-morning snack.

The cappuccino was sweetened and there were also coffee bean shaped chocolates here and there, the scoop of vanilla ice cream also notched up the sweetness.

Then on Saturday, after lunch, I ordered this golden peach shave ice at Yukinoshita.

It was like eating a frozen peach! The ice was finely shaved too.

Satoshi on the other hand ordered this monster...a melty matcha parfait.

We have a couple of typhoons heading our way too this week, so the humidity is only gonna get worse....sigh.

Ito Coffee
43-3 Koyama Kamifusa-cho
Kita-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.492.0033
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 7:00-19:00

Minoo Q's Mall
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.729.3700
Hours: 11:00-20:00
Closed when the mall is

Monday, August 15, 2016


When I hear the word "dashi", I think of "soup" or "stock".

But in Yamagata prefecture, "dashi" is a hodgepodge of veggies which is eaten to fight off natsubate (heat exhaustion).

I got the idea from a television show and it is super easy to put together.

A medium sized eggplant
3 okra
10 leaves shiso (perilla)
2 myoga (Japanese ginger)
2 small Japanese cucumber
2 tablespoons dashi-shoyu
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Mince the eggplant and put into a bowl of water to get out the aku (astringency)
Mince up the rest of the veggies.
Drain the water from the eggplant.
In a bowl, put all the veggies and drizzle the dashi-shoyu
Add the sesame seeds
Mix well and chill

NOTES: In Yamagata, they put this on top of their rice, but we enjoyed it on tofu. This was so easy to put together and so refreshing. I'm making this again.

FYI: if you cannot find dashi-shoyu where you are, it might be best to put some together. Of course the ratios might need to be tweaked but I think a 1 to 1 ratio of dashi (stock) to shoyu (soy sauce), would be a good start.

UPDATE: I noticed on my dashi shoyu that there were other ingredients like mirin & sugar in it, I found an easy recipe here, which might be a better start to making your own dashi-shoyu.


Sunday, August 14, 2016


It's O-bon now in Japan.

Many companies have the week off. Satoshi doesn't but was able to take the day off.

So, on Friday, we went to Kyoto.

The priest was making his rounds to say prayers for many families.

It was a nice gathering as we haven't seen BIL and SIL in awhile.

Lunch was a bento from a tiny shop, Uotoku, up the street from MIL's.

Most people are off until Tuesday, but it's back to work for Satoshi tomorrow.

Have a nice week.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

yama no hi

Today is a National Holiday...Yama no Hi (Mountain Day).

This holiday was newly added (this year) to the gazillion that Japan already has.

Why they didn't add this to June baffles me as June doesn't have any holidays...

Oh well...I'm appreciating our favorite mountain today...Mt Fuji.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


When I was in Hawaii, I came across OCHO candy at Target.

OCHO stands for organic chocolate.

I debated between their coconut and peanut butter candies.

I got the coconut.

The chocolate bloomed a little because my luggage was in 90-something temps when it landed in Osaka.

Still, this is good. Lots of coconut and I like that they use organic ingredients.

I hope to try some of their other versions next time I'm back in Hawaii.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

foodie monday in kobe

Yesterday, the weather was sunny but the heat and humidity was brutal.

I think the temps got up to the 90s but felt like 100s.

I swear it feels like you are right up next to the broiler element of an oven.

I stopped in at Ça Marche and picked up their patchwork bread and some other items...I've written about them here. I love their breads!

It was so hot that I stopped in at a new Starbucks, this one is a Starbucks Reserve and is called Neighborhood Coffee.

All their drinks are one size (big) and their prices are quite "big" too.

This passion tea was 540 yen (tax included).

The staff are friendly and I like the space design, they even have a separate area for people to come and sit with their dogs.

After cooling down and recharging...I headed down to Mariage Frères to pick up this year's summer tea which is called Rio Summer and some others for iced tea.

The Rio Summer is a green tea base with mint, green mate and açai. I've already cold brewed a batch and it is refreshing, lots of mint!

The other two teas I purchased were Mandalay (a black tea base with fruits and spices, perfect for iced chai), and Roi des Earl Grey (a black tea with bergamot).

I really appreciate the staff working here. They are really passionate about tea and give really informative explanations of the different teas.

Since this summer is really hot, I'm sure we'll quickly go through these teas.

How is summer where you are?

Neighborhood Coffee
2-24-1 Nakayamate-dori
Kobe, Hyogo
Phone: 078.222.0230
Monday-Fridays 8:30-22:00
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: 7:30-22:00

Monday, August 08, 2016

salted honey cantaloupe chia jam

While visiting with Deb, she gave me a jar of her salted honey cantaloupe chia jam.

Yesterday, we tried it with some toasted baguette, a schmear of cream cheese, some capicola (like proscuitto) and the jam.


Salty & sweet.

I think you could also nix the proscuitto and just eat it with the cream cheese.

Deb says she also ate this with crackers, so I'm going to look for some crackers for us to eat this with.

Thanks for sharing this with us Deb!

Friday, August 05, 2016


While in Hawaii, I went through my mom's cookbooks, to give to a charity or maybe to the brother will take care of where it will go (Thank you!)

She actually had some of Grandma's too.

That Hilo Women's cookbook is my Grandma's and is from 1953! There were some interesting recipes in there...

I also went through the shoebox she had of recipes from newspaper and magazine clippings....boy, were there a lot of char siu recipes...

Think about you all the time especially today, Mom.

Love you.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

made it!

Yesterday was a L-O-N-G day...

BFF was nice to drop me off at the airport on her way to work, so I was there a little before 6:00...Unfortunately, the JAL counter did not open until!

I people watched until then, since I didn't want to drag my luggage around with me to look for breakfast...

After checking in, I had a leisurely breakfast at Starbucks.

FYI: there is still no free WIFI at the airport...I believe Hawaii is the last International airport in the world not to have free wifi, 1st world problems...

We had a relatively full plane and economy seats have changed on JAL, every seat has gotten 10 centimeters more leg room. I've never had a problem with leg room (because I'm short), but can understand what tall people must go through.

I've been wanting to see this movie, "If cats disappeared from the world".

FYI: This movie should be watched in the privacy of your home, talk about kleenex moments!

As we approached Narita, a sudden rain storm appeared in the area, so instead of landing, we had to circle another 30 minutes...

Luckily, my connection wasn't for another 2 hours.

Part of our lunch was this Tropilicious Strawberry Haupia Ice Cream, and part of our snack before landing were these Big Island Candies cookies.

While flying from Narita to Itami (Osaka), JAL allowed us to use their in-flight WIFI for 15 minutes at no charge.

That's how I took the first photo.

From the airport, it was a little over 30 minutes, but at least by 20:00 I was home.

My bags were opened by TSA, and will be delivered tomorrow...something about me arriving at Itami after 15:00 so the bags would be picked up from the airport on Thursday and delivered on Friday...

Just hope that everything will be intact.

Will be going grocery shopping and start cooking tonight.

Hope your week is going well.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

lots of rainbows

I think I told you how rainbows reminded me of my Uncle.

I think these days, rainbows remind me of people that I know, who have passed.

This trip was filled with lots of rainbows.

Most days, it was too rainy and/or cloudy for sunsets or sunrises (we even had a hurricane downgraded to a major tropical storm).

Still, even if this trip was shorter than most and the weather not so nice, it was good to be home.

Visiting with family and friends.

I am thankful that Satoshi allows me do this every year.

I am flying out today.

Be well everyone and talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

foodie saturday

I only have a couple more days left in Hawaii, so I am trying to squeeze some foodie adventures in...

Saturday, BFF and I went to Chocolate & Vanilla Bakery, so that I could try their macaron.

I got their mint chocolate...$2.04 (tax included). I enjoyed this. The mint wasn't overpowering.

Though I wished that the outer "shell" was mint and the filling was dark chocolate...

We then bought a Champion malasadas....$.85 (plus tax) each.

Still as good as ever.

(I couldn't believe a guy actually walked in, took a look at the glass case and menu, then walked out without even buying a malasada!)

And enjoyed it with a cold brew coffee from Starbucks...$3.61 (tax included).

We then walked around Ala Moana a bit then headed over to J.J.Dolans for pizza.

It had been about 4 years since my last visit. Their pizza is still delicious.

Bellies full, lots of talking, and lots of was a great day.

Thanks BFF!

Monday, August 01, 2016

back to hawaiian pie company

I recently saw that Hawaiian Pie Company had custard tarts as their special of the day, so since I happened to be in the area, I stopped in and picked up one.

Looking at the size of the container, I am pretty sure that their tarts are the same size as their mini pies.

The difference is that the tarts are a short crust (shortening) and the mini pies have a flaky crust (butter).

Whenever I pass through Chinatown, I pick up a Lee's custard tart $1.25 tax included.

The Hawaiian Pie Company's is larger and costs a little more too...$3.66 (tax included).

Straight out of the fridge is how I like custard pie...this one was so good!

I'll be back!