Friday, September 30, 2016

kochi omiyage

These days whenever we go travelling, I try to pick up food things as omiyage (souvenir).

I usually don't give away omiyage to anyone, well, sometimes to MIL, but I mostly buy for us to try.

Like these mi-re (mee-ray) biscuits (blue side), tiny crackers, that tasted similar to ritz crackers.

The red side was kenpi, thinly sliced sweet potato that is fried and coated with a sweet glaze...super addicting.

A lot of yuzu is grown in Kochi.

Most residents use yuzu in place of shoyu and squeeze some onto their sashimi.

I often like to buy yuzu if it the peel has been candied.

A lot of ginger is also grown in Kochi.

This okazu (side dish) shoga looked interesting.

Diced ginger simmered with shoyu, sugar and other seasonings.

The package says you can mix it with rice, put it into omelettes, and many more uses...really versatile.

The biscuits and kenpi are already gone, can't wait to try the yuzu and ginger.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

nahari sights

There weren't many sights in Nahari, mainly because it is a tiny village.

N took us to see a a silk worm warehouse.

Huge building!

It isn't used any more but it was nice that they kept it in relatively good condition.

See the tiles going horizontal across the building?

Those are called "mizukiri".

Since Kochi is often hit with typhoons and severe rain, they created these mizukiri (literally "water cut") to deflect the rain.

By deflecting the rain, the walls of the building are protected from water damage.

One more warehouse with a more pronounced mizukiri.

N also showed us various stone walls surrounding homes.

He wasn't sure as to why they were made these ways, but they were fun to look at.

Cool, yeah?!

Lastly, N showed us this old train bridge and tunnel.

Only about two people could walk through it side by side.

Makes me wonder how small the train cars were back then.

Not many sights in Nahari, but we were grateful for N showing us around.

Thanks N!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

we're 11

We're 11 today...Can you believe it?

I still can't believe how long I have kept this blog going.

Most bloggers that were around when I first started, have stopped blogging.

I must admit, the amount of comments have decreased over the years.

Sometimes I wonder if there is anyone out there still reading blogs?!

I do appreciate the friendships made over the years and look forward to sharing more adventures.

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


From Osaka, it is about a 4 and a half hour bus ride to Kochi.

Kochi is one of four prefectures of Shikoku.

We were lucky to get a bus that only had 30 seats, so this seemed similar to business class in an airplane.

Each person had their own foot rests, slippers, and outlets to charge your phone, the seat could recline quite far back too.

There was free wifi on board, even in the tunnels, it was a treat!

After reaching Kochi, we took the local train to Nahari, which is located on the east side of the prefecture.

The train runs through the town and then alongside the ocean.

Too bad the weather was cloudy, the views of the ocean would have been beautiful.

After reaching Nahari, we caught a bus to the Kitagawa Village Monet Garden, a replica of Monet's garden and home in Giverny, France.

Too bad it was late in the day, most of the flowers were starting to close.

All though I did find a piece of "home".

Our main purpose for visiting Nahari, was to see Satoshi's friend, N's exhibit.

N is an architect as well as an architectural photographer.

It was nice to see N's photos of Le Corbusier's works.

I loved seeing all the different flowers around the grounds. This wall vase was so cute!

Afterwards, we had dinner together at Kuimonoya Ai, probably the only place serving food in the area.

Their food was good and everything fresh.

And the portions huge!

My favorite dish was this thick sliced toro futomaki. Enough wasabi to blow out your sinuses, but the pieces of toro were fresh and delicious!

It was nice catching up with N.

The hotel we stayed at, Hotel Nahari was kinda bad, the television worked when it wanted.

But, at least there was wifi and they had just renovated the furo (bath) area.

It was a long day, it was only the start of this adventure but our next day would be even longer...

Hotel Nahari
593-1 Otsu, Nahari-cho,
Aki-gun, Kochi

Kuimonoya Ai
No address or phone number online

Monday, September 26, 2016

we're back

We came back last night from Shikoku.

It was a rather short trip, but we got to see and eat a lot.

If you keep up with us on other SNS sites, you kind of know what we were up to...

Will update as soon as possible.

Friday, September 23, 2016


So, the library called to say that the book I requested was in.

I went to pick it up the other day.

It is a self-serve system.

Scan your library card, get the number for the area that they are holding all the books on request.

Then scan your requested book and your library card.

Out pops a receipt which tells you when you need to bring the book back.

No talking to anyone, just scan, and go.

I would think as a librarian you would be interested in seeing what others are reading.

As a person borrowing a book, I would've hoped there was more interaction with the librarian.

Was kinda sad that this is how they run the library here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

energy dust

The other day, as I waited for typhoon #16 (they don't give them names in Japan), to pass. I made half a batch of energy bars.

This was a new recipe that I was trying and the photo of the finished product was WAY different from what mine looked like.

The most depressing part was that when I tried to cut it after cooling, it just poof fell apart...dust!

Instead of throwing it out, I scooped everything into a container and "dusted" our oatmeal with it.

I'm thinking I will use it on yogurt too.

Reasons why I think this recipe may have failed...a)I over-blitzed everything in the food processor, b) there wasn't enough "glue" (honey) to hold everything together, c) the baking time (2 or 3 minutes) might have been a typo, d)all of the above...

Debating as to whether to try this again...will decide after the long weekend.

Since today is a national holiday, Autumn Equinox, we're off to Shikoku.

Talk to you when I get back!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

library card

Do you borrow books from the library?

I rarely do.

This past weekend was a 3-day weekend but we ended up not really going anywhere because of the rain/typhoon.

We did, go to the library for "research".

Satoshi was looking up info for a trip we are thinking of taking to Tohoku.

Me, I was interested in looking at a book I saw featured in another book.

When I checked on the computer, the book I was interested in was at another library, so I requested it to be brought to one closer to us.

I put in my request and the clerk told me that my library card was expired.

Geez, I didn't even realize there was an expiration date on it!

Apparently, my card was REALLY expired, like 3 years past the expiration....oops!

Thirteen years ago, I had requested the card so that I could take information out on kamon (family crests).

Can't believe it has been that long since I was researching that...

On another subject, did you know that most people go to the library in Japan to read manga? I was shocked when I first saw this 13 years ago.

When I was going to college, the only time I stepped into a library was to use their resources, like encyclopedias (do people even use those now?! maybe not with the internet now, yeah?!).

Satoshi said he never went to the library for research during college...

Have you borrowed anything from or gone to the library recently?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

nurukan sato

Saturday, we had some errands to run, so we headed to Umeda.

We had actually thought we could try Ice Monster, the Taiwanese shave ice place, but the lines were still krazy. Guess we'll need to wait until winter...

Lunch was at Nurukan Sato, a place specializing in different sake (rice wine).

I ordered their wagyu hitsumabushi...1800 yen (plus tax).

When I think of hitsumabushi I usually of unagi (eel), but these days, they use the term loosely to mean that they give you some dashi (soup) to enjoy it something similar to "ochazuke".

I don't know if the way the meat was cut made it tough or the way they cooked it, but I've had way more tender wagyu before.

Satoshi went with the shrimp and crab tempura donburi...1500 yen (plus tax).

He enjoyed this, lots of shrimp, lots of crab legs and some veggie tempura.

They also gave us mini beers to enjoy with our meal.

My set came with a dish of yuzu sorbet. Great palate cleanser and I also gave half to Satoshi.

It was a great lunch. We'll be back to try other items on their menu.

Nurukan Sato
Grand Front Osaka South 7F
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6131.8948
Lunch: 11:00-15:00
Dinner: 17:00-23:00
Closed when Grand Front Osaka is

Monday, September 19, 2016

keiro no hi

Today is a national holiday, Keiro no hi (Respect for the Aged Day).

It is a day to thank the elderly for their contributions to society over the years and to celebrate their longevity.

I think in America they have a day around this time of year called Grandparents Day.

While I don't have grandparents anymore, I still appreciate all that they have done for me.

Love and miss you guys!

Friday, September 16, 2016


After 46 years Yamazaki, the company that used to make Ritz crackers and Oreos in Japan, parted ways with Mondelez (Nabisco's head company)!

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the actress who normally advertises for Nabisco, was advertising a different product.

That's when I found out that Nabisco Japan products would not be made in Japan anymore.

I don't know about you, but I grew up with Ritz many different comfort foods go well with it.

I also enjoyed the matcha oreos that the Japan factory used to make.

Since they parted ways, Yamazaki recently came out with a new brand called Levain.

Levain crackers are made in Japan, and in my opinion, taste pretty close to Ritz.

While I was bummed that Ritz and Oreos will not be made in Japan anymore, it is still being imported from its new areas of production (China, Malaysia and Indonesia), so you can still find it in the stores.

Still, I'm gonna keep an eye out for Levain and support local.

It's a 3-day weekend here, hope you have a great weekend too.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


In the book I have with the okara granola recipe, is a recipe for sauerkraut which I was interested in trying.

In Japanese, they call sauerkraut, "nyu-san-cabbage" (fermented cabbage).

The recipe says it should take about 3-6 days but because it is still quite warm here, this was ready in 2 days.

1/4 purple cabbage, julienned and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
ziploc bag
3 bottled drinks

Place cabbage into ziploc bag with salt and sugar.
Massage bag, take out air, seal bag.

Place 3 bottled drinks on the bag, like placing weights on when making tsukemono (pickles).

Wait 3-6 days (mine was done in 2)

There should be tiny bubbles and when you taste it, it should be sour-ish.

NOTES: super easy and pretty tasty. Purple cabbage has been hard to find these days, but I hope to make this again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


When I think of ochazuke I think of a hot dish (hot rice, hot tea), these days in summer there are cold versions.

One version I saw on TV, used rice from the freezer, defrosted in cold water.

Topped with chopped up canned fish, mixed with some umeboshi.

Some torn up nori and chopped up tsukemono.

Sprinkle some ground sesame seeds and then add some cold tea.

I didn't have frozen rice, so I used warm rice from the rice cooker.

And topped my ochazuke with cold tea.

It was perfect for this humidity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

flip up!

On the street where I had planned for us to have lunch on Saturday, there was a bakery that I also had bookmarked, Flip Up!

In Japan, the names of some of these businesses are so interesting. Like this bakery...their sign is a shortened version of Flip Up! and says "F.U."...gasp!

Anyway, I bought some baked good for us to share.

Potato cheese bread, chocolate, curry pan, cheese sausage, and fig bagel.

Everything was so chewy!

I was a bit disappointed and thought at least the thin cheese sausage one should've been crisper.

On the other hand, the curry one was tiny but filled generously with curry.

Still I'm glad we got to try this place.

Flip Up!
292-2 Takoyakushi-cho
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.213.2833
Closed Sunday & Monday
Hours: 7:00-18:00 (or earlier if they sell out)

Monday, September 12, 2016


The clouds were krazy on Saturday, a sign that Autumn is coming, even though the daytime is still krazy hot.

We went to Kyoto to bring some flowers to the family grave and also to visit Satoshi's grandma's grave.

Since we always start out early whenever we go to Kyoto, to beat the crowds, we went to find breakfast near Tofukuji station.

The place we had breakfast at has a long Japanese name, Pan to Coffee to Hirarin to.... (Bread & Coffee & Hirarin...)

This tiny cafe has an extensive menu. The breakfast menu is rather on the simple side, while the lunch/dinner menu is huge!

The owners wanted to create a place where people could come and "hang out".

Although it is alongside an overpass, it is rather quiet and relaxing.

I ordered the panini...ham & cheese all melty while the bread's crust was nicely crisp.

Their coffee is pour over and delicious...500 yen (tax included).

Satoshi went with their "everything" plate...500 yen (tax included)...I think he got a good deal.

After breakfast, we bought some flowers and made our trek up to where the family grave is.

Boy, were the mosquitos in kamikaze mode...Satoshi got ambushed!

Still, we were glad we were able to visit the grave.

It was getting close to lunch time for us and I had intended for us to check out a cafe that I had bookmarked, but the wait was over an hour for seats, so we decided to check out Ichinofunairi, which we've eaten at before.

It's been 6 years since we've been back, mainly because the times we've tried to eat here they were fully booked.

They've done away with their reasonable lunch sets (teishoku) so you need to order prix fixe or a la carte.

I ordered their hiyashi paiko tan tan men...apparently paiko means sparerib in Chinese.

Their tan tan men wasn't spicy at all, more like hiyashi chuuka (cold chinese noodle), with a sesame sauce.

The pork cutlet was cooked so perfectly and the outside so crisp!

There was a little curry powder and 5 spice in the batter...different but so good! 1500 yen (tax separate)

Satoshi went with their shrimp and veggie rice...1200 yen (tax separate)

He enjoyed this as there was nice sized shrimp in his dish.

As we were waiting for our food to come out, we called Café Quarirengue to see if they were still serving shave ice.

(The last time we visited we noticed that they had shave ice on their menu but they only served it from 14:00...)

So, after we finished lunch we walked to Café Quarirengue and ordered their Fuji...1500 yen (tax included)

Powder soft shaved ice topped with tachibana (a type of citrus) syrup and amakoji (fermented sweet rice). The shave ice comes with a ginger sauce and also a citrus syrup.

It also comes with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over and an umeboshi to refresh your palate.

Talk about different! It wasn't overly sweet which was nice and perfect for sharing.

It was a long full day, but I'm glad we got to do hakamairi (visit the family graves).

How was your weekend?!

Pan to Coffee to Hirarin to
15-815-6 Honmachi
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.541.8727
Hours: 7:00-18:00
*days off not set, call before going

Thursday, September 08, 2016

okara granola (re-do)

I re-did a batch of okara granola, this time following the instructions verbatim.

Even while following the instructions verbatim, the granola still came out moist.

I think I will need to bake this for a longer amount of time.

Still, I like this version, as it gives us another option in place of oats.

We had this this morning, with a little yogurt, a really ripe banana, some blueberries and a little milk.

Our weather is still krazy with typhoons passing over us practically every other day.

This morning Satoshi went to work and the rain was coming down in buckets! Poor guy!

Hopefully all this krazy weather won't mess up the fall colors this year.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Met up with Mayumi the other day for lunch at Tsukasa.

Satoshi and I have eaten here a couple of times, and I thought I blogged about it, but apparently I never have.

This restaurant specializes in cuisine from the Tosa area (Kochi prefecture).

I ordered the yakisabazushi set...1280 yen (tax included).

The sushi rice has lots of yuzu in it.

Yuzu is also grown in Kochi prefecture.

The saba (mackerel) is grilled.

It was unusual to have a "warm" sushi but this was delicious!

The saba was smoky with lots of flavor.

My set also came with some simmered veggies, chawanmushi (savory custard) and miso soup.

Mayumi had their katsuo tataki set...1280 yen (tax included).

Katsuo Tataki, a specialty of the area, is bonito that is seared on the outside but keeping the inside raw.

The tataki is usually served with sliced onions, sliced garlic and ponzu (citrusy soy sauce).

This is also Satoshi's favorite.

Her set also came with grilled eggplant, simmered veggies and some other items I didn't catch.

It was nice catching up with her and I'm glad she invited me to meet up.

Thanks for a great day!

Hankyu Sanbangai B2, South Wing
Umeda, Osaka
Phone: 06.6372.8815
Hours: 11:00-22:00
Open when Sanbangai is

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Zoodles are what they call the "noodles" made from zucchini.

Anyway, Satoshi made zoodles for dinner on Sunday.

I cut them a little and put it into a non-stick pan.

Then on medium heat, I covered it for about 4 minutes.

While cooking some liquid came out from the veg, so it kinda steamed during that time and became a little soft but not mushy.

And then we topped it with homemade meat sauce.

This was a nice way to get in lots of veggies.

It is still quite warm to be baking stuff or eating casseroles, but I also want to try baking the zoodles with cheese...

UPDATE: 9/26/2016 baked zoodles with cheese, rice and some minced good!

Monday, September 05, 2016

square furniture coffee stand

I've been wanting to check out Square for some time, we finally got to this past Saturday.

The 1st floor is a furniture shop and the 2nd floor is their cafe and work area. They also have some furniture for sale there too.

Most of their furniture is 2nd hand stuff but they also make tables from large pieces taken from trees too.

Fill out the order form and bring it to the counter.

Pay and then wait to be called.

I ordered the spare rib curry, this came with a "Fred Flintstone" sized sparerib, more like huge pork rib (I think it was pork).

Too bad this wasn't "fall off the bone tender".

The saffron rice that came with this was bland and the curry was more like beef stew....1600 yen (tax included)

This also came with a beverage (I chose iced coffee).

Satoshi chose the veggie curry, this was the same base as the curry I had, but his meal came with a frozen orange gelatin & beverage (he chose coffee)...1600 yen.

He also ordered his meal with a large serving of rice (no extra charge), but regretted doing so because it was so bland.

We both agreed that their curry was way too "heavy" and "rich" for our liking. In fact, we ate salad for dinner because we were still full from lunch!

Still, we like the atmosphere of this place, so we'll be back.

Square Furniture Coffee Stand
1-8-58 Senba Higashi
Minoo, Osaka
Phone: 072.737.9234
Closed Thursdays
Hours: 11:00-16:30 (Weekdays), 11:00-17:00 (Weekends/Holidays)

Thursday, September 01, 2016

things I'm liking

Some things I'm liking...

These fruit juices by Shine & Shine, a Hong Kong company.

I'd been noticing people on Instagram posting pics about this juice and found some at Family Mart (convenience store).

The grapefruit was 100% fruit juice, very pulpy. And the berry is a mixture of strawberry & blueberry, but only 65% because I'm guessing that they dilute it with water.

A bit pricey at 398 yen a bottle, but nice to know they sell these types of juices at the convenience store.


It's fig season, and we've been enjoying them at breakfast.

On toast with cream cheese and a little honey.

In yogurt.

We've also had some with bleu cheese and coppa (ham).


Growing up I didn't appreciate leftovers.

Probably because we ate them for more than one or two meals.

Now that I need to do the cooking though, I get it!

We had pork togan (wintermelon) the other night.

More togan than pork, but enough for two meals.

It isn't that cool to be cooking or eating soupy things though, but I am appreciating leftovers.

The other week I made ratatouille and topped them with some spicy sardines.

The first time we ate this with whole wheat couscous.

The second night just as is.

Do you like leftovers?

What are you enjoying these days?

It's the start of September already, too fast!