Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Semi-funny thing happened to me yesterday.

I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train to come.

There was a caucasian man standing in front of me.

As we were waiting for the train, his caucasian woman friend, came by and said "hi".

They then proceeded to chat as they waited for the train to come.

The man turns slightly around looking at me and "whispers" to his friend loud enough for me to hear...."slowly sneak in front of me"...

In actuality, letting his friend cut in front of him (and me!)

I smiled at him and said, "you can let her cut in".

This shocked him...

An Asian that spoke English...

He then turns to me and says, "Are you really "Japanese"?"

And while a few years back I probably would've been insulted by this, I found it a bit hilarious...

He then said, "where did you originally come from?"

I said, "From Hawaii".

His face relaxed and said, "ah okay, now it makes sense. I thought your pronunciation was a bit too perfect."

I said, "shh...I'm undercover"

Since moving here, I have gotten used to being seen as a Japanese national who speaks perfect English, instead of as a foreigner.

Most Japanese who meet me for the first time, often are disappointed because I do not look "foreign" enough (meaning I do not have the blonde hair and blue eyes they associate with foreigners).

I have often heard from other foreigners how they are gawked at on the trains by Japanese because they look "foreign".

But have also seen Japanese treat them more hospitably, because they do look "foreign".

I remember when we called the police to have them check on an apartment on another floor of our building because their door was ajar...the policeman asked for my name and when I said, "Kathy"...he looked puzzled and said, "is that your real name?"

Satoshi had to then explain that I was a "foreigner"...sigh.

But anyway, I digress...the train arrived and we all boarded while having a nice chuckle.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

museums & ippouen

Remember the dragon at Kenninji?

The artist, Kaiho Yusho, was being featured at the Kyoto National Museum.

Satoshi said he wanted to check it out, so, Sunday that is what we did.

We got there early, along with hundreds of others...

Just to get into the museum we had to queue up...

While we were waiting our turn to ride the elevator, I took this picture with Kyoto Tower far off in the distance.

Meh, I wasn't impressed by this exhibit. Plus the inside of the museum smelled like a locker room...ugh!

Glad that Satoshi enjoyed the exhibit though.

We then went up the street to Shimizu Ippouen...a tea house.

If you order lunch & a sweet, they give you a little that is what we did.

Satoshi's maguro don with sesame oil and raw egg yolk.

You separate the egg and add to your donburi just before eating....only in Japan!

Satoshi's parfait....this had matcha ice cream, shiratama (like mochi) & sweet bean paste.

How cute is the wasabi container?! Made of wood with a teeny spoon and cover too!

I ordered the Maguro Houjicha (roasted green tea) Dashi good and just the perfect serving!

I chose the matcha roll cake...I normally don't like white chocolate but that swirl was nice to balance out the bitter matcha.

There was also some konbu cha (powdered kelp) and bubu arare (small rice cracker puffs) sprinkled on the white chocolate to give it a sweet-salty flavor & crunch.

Although we went soon after they opened, we had to wait for a table, still, I'm glad we tried this place and want to come back to try their shave ice.

Bellies full, we crossed the street to Chishakuin.

Click on the photo and you should be able to hear the temple bell ringing.

Their garden area was super quiet and peaceful.

While viewing the garden, we also caught a rare glimpse of a grey heron up close...

Then back down the road to Sanjusangendo.

Amazing display of 1000 kannon (figures for peace) statues inside the long rectangular building.

Every January 14 they hold archery tournaments here too, apparently which used to be held on this long deck.

The double cherry blossoms are in to see the video.

And then back near the Kamogawa (Kamo river) we sat and had a snack. (click to view video)

It was kind of summery this weekend, but still comfortable to be out and about.

Shimizu Ippouen
665 Honkawaracho, corner of Higashi Oodori & Shiokoji road
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075.202.7964
Hours: 11:30-16:30
Closed Mondays

Monday, April 24, 2017


Saturday, after Satoshi's German class, I wanted to try a Chinese shop, but the line was krazy, so we decided to look for somewhere else to lunch and stumbled upon Papocchio.

The owner is from Rome and much of the staff working is (I think) part of his family...

We ordered the pair lunch...3000 yen (plus tax).

This started with a HUGE appetizer plate.

Fried sardines, roasted veggies, many other goodies and a generous seafood salad...we enjoyed this.

The foccacia and a fried round something were also so good!

The pizza we chose was their "napoletana"...with anchovy, garlic & fresh tomato sauce.

I liked that this was without cheese...the sauce was so good with the saltiness from the anchovies and tartness from the tomatoes!

We chose the hotaru ika (literally firefly squid) tomato pasta.

This was also tasty!

Dessert was a delicious cherry tarte but I spied another table with a piece of chocolate cake...

Delicious coffee to end.

We want to come back to try other items on their menu.

We went to check out the fuji (wisteria) in the Noda area after lunch, but it was a bust, not much blooming and the strands were so teeny.

Still, it was a nice day to be out and about on Earth Day!

2-1-1 Oyodominami
Kita-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06.6442.7582
Lunch: 11:30-14:00, Dinner 18:00-21:30
Closed Mondays

Thursday, April 20, 2017

sakura gohan

If you've ever wanted to bring home Japan with you and like the flavor of sakura (cherry blossoms), I would suggest getting some sakura hanazuke.

It is also called sakura shiozuke.

It is hard to describe the flavor, but I can tell you it isn't like sour cherries nor American cherry flavors.

Depending on which brand you buy...the size varies and I would assume the price too.

This one cost me about 400 yen (tax included) is about 40 grams and is from Kanagawa.

The sakura is packed in salt.

Be sure to wash off the salt before using.

This is one I received from a friend a couple years back and is from Nara and was about 50 grams.

To make sakura gohan...2 servings.

1 cup rice
4-5 sakura flowers

Soak your flowers for about ten minutes to remove some of the salt.
Cook your rice according to your rice cooker.
Drain and chop up the flowers.
After the rice is cooked, add most of the chopped flowers and mix with your shamoji (rice paddle).
With the remaining chopped flowers, garnish when serving.

NOTES: The only thing about this type of sakura is that it can only be found during Spring. Most stores do not carry it year round. This recipe is super easy and a nice way to enjoy a taste of Japan's Spring.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

prepping for summer

Yesterday, I picked up a frozen bag of mixed berries...

After bringing the bag back home, I read the back, it said that you need to cook the berries, not to use as is.

Boo! I had intended to use it as is in smoothies...

So, I rinsed the berries, then cooked it, with a little sugar and some vinegar (didn't have lemon juice)...

I'm going to freeze most of this, but at least now I can use this in smoothies whenever I want to.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Sunday, the weather was beautiful...sunny & HOT!

Seriously feeling like summer...gah!

Yesterday, it started to rain at about lunchtime and didn't stop until early this morning.

I think the weather dude mentioned that we got a month's rainfall in one day...eep!

It is still quite overcast today.

Wanted to share with you the last of the sakura...

Love this season, it is just way too short and the weather just too krazy these days..

Monday, April 17, 2017

shin-tamanegi gohan

I enjoy the television shows that visit farms.

Most times, the farmer's wife has great ideas for using the veggies that they grow.

Like this one...Shin-tamanegi gohan.

In Japan, Spring veggies are tender and sweet.

Shin-tamanegi (literally "new onion") are super tender.

If you are not careful, they will bruise and rot quickly.

Anyway, the show I was watching visited a farm that grows these onions.

The wife made a rice recipe in her rice cooker and put a whole onion in before cooking.

There wasn't a recipe online to try so I ad-libbed, basing what I did for the shoyu butter corn yakionigiri recipe that I use.

When I made this, I used 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of water and 1 softball sized shintamanegi.

After cooking, the onion is so soft that you can break it up with the shamoji (rice paddle)!

NOTES: If you use a softball sized onion, cook it with 2 cups rice & 2 cups water. If you use a fist sized onion, then 1 cup rice & 1 cup water will do.

The rice gets a little softer than normal because I think the liquid from the onion adds to the cooking water.

This was nice served with steak and also with an oozy egg the next morning.

I didn't season the rice because we enjoy the flavor of the onion as is, but feel free to put salt and pepper to taste when serving.

I know you may not be able to get this type of onion where you are, but if you happen to be in Japan when shin-tamanegi are in season, I hope you will give this a try.

I'm making this again.

Friday, April 14, 2017

lunch with a view

Today, I went to Square for lunch because someone posted on social media that the cherry blossoms were in bloom in their area. (click on the photo to view the video)

From the second floor (their cafe space), you can see this.

I had their taco rice & iced coffee...1300 yen (tax included).

It was quite filling but I liked how they put the cheese under the broiler and the egg was nice and oozy.

At the mall too, everything was in full bloom.

I forgot to share this video of Sakuranomiya with you yesterday... (click on the photo)

Hopefully the weather will hold up over the weekend, so we can check out more blooms.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

sakura walks

Today was sunny...if you were in the shade it was a bit nippy, but if you were out in the sun, it was!

I walked from Umeda to Sakuranomiya.

I've been here several is an area that has cherry trees along the river.

(click on this photo and I hope it will take you to Youtube to view the video)

From Sakuranomiya, I walked back towards Umeda and through Ogimachi Park.

It was a nice day to be out and about.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

sakura walks

Monday, the weather was really cloudy and since I ran some errands, I didn't really get to check out any cherry blossoms.

Tuesday, the winds were krazy (like a typhoon) and rainy. AND we had a cold snap...brr!

Today, I went to check out my "usual" spots...(If you click on the photo, it should run the short video.)

Most of the cherry blossoms were still intact, but there were quite a bit of petals on the ground.

Tomorrow is supposed to be better weather, so I hope to check out more cherry blossoms...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

matcha pudding

Starbucks recently came out with a matcha pudding...kind of like their custard pudding, but with a matcha sauce at the bottom and matcha mixed into the pudding itself.

I liked how this wasn't too sweet.

The maple covered nuts were nice too (pictured on the side).

The weather has been flip-flopping between warm and cool, making it hard to figure out how to dress...

hope your week is going well.

Monday, April 10, 2017


Sunday after the rains on Saturday, it was still grey and drizzly.

We woke up early and checked out our favorite street lined with cherry trees.

There were a lot of petals on the ground but the bulk of the blooms were still on the tree.

Then, we zipped over to Kyoto to visit MIL.

The area near the Botanical Garden was quite soggy, but there were a couple of weeping cherry trees that were in full bloom.

Along Kamo River, more trees were in full bloom.

Despite the drizzles and grey, I was surprised there were a lot of people out and about.

We picked up some Kamo Donuts. And had them after lunch. (coconut chocolate for me, cream filled cruller for Satoshi and chocolate covered custard filled "monster" for MIL)

After lunch, MIL let us clean a little bit, though we did not even making a dent in what needs to get done...sigh.

Still, I'm glad we got to visit with her and see some sakura.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

sakura walks

Thursday, the weather was forecast for rain in the afternoon, so I got out and about just before lunch.

Asahigaoka...each house has a cherry tree planted in front, making for a great neighborhood to walk during this time of year. (I cropped out the dude who was crouching down on the road to take his shot...he got tooted at several times by several cars!!)

A little up the road is this area...I want to be the houses facing these group of trees...beautiful, yeah?!

I saw someone's photo somewhere on social media and copied the idea using the traffic mirror and the trees...

This walkway in front of a school has many cherry trees and makes a pretty "tunnel".

I went back to take a photo of this weeping cherry which I had seen the other day but was too chicken to ask to take a photo of it then because it looked like they were having some kind of dignitary type event there...

Sonpachiyakujin's weeping cherry looked more white than pink.

Then I went through Suigetsu Park.

Kinda grey but at least I was able to check them out before the rains.

Friday, April 07, 2017

sakura walks

Wednesday was forecast for clouds and the weather dude was spot on..

I had to use some filters to "pretty" these photos up...

On a street that is near the Hankyu Minoo Station, they have replaced some of the older tree with new ones, so the cherry blossom tunnel is a bit smaller, but it was nice to see these new trees blooming.

Unfortunately, most of the trees have only started to bloom, so the "tunnel" wasn't quite ready.

On the other hand, a weeping cherry tree in front of a school was in full bloom, so pretty despite the skies.

Looking up at all the blooms.

Hope you have a nice weekend!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

green tea pork belly rolls

I saw these pork belly rolls filled with used green tea on a tv show, but could not find a recipe, so I adlibbed.

Using several leaves from that huge cabbage, I wilted it in a hot non-stick pan, then set it aside.

Then I made the rolls.

With about a gram of green tea (brewed and ready to throw out), I divvied it up between 6 pieces of pork belly slices.

Put the flap of each pork roll side down onto a heated pan to seal.

Cook for several minutes then turn until all sides are cooked.

Cover with a lid and cook for several minutes so that the inside will cook too.

Not sure how long I cooked everything for, but it was fast (we use gas to cook with, so that might be why also).

Drizzle with ponzu (citrus soy sauce) before eating.

Dinner is served.

NOTES: I know, not really a recipe, sorry.

Still, I think this would be a nice pupu (appetizer) or something for bento.

I didn't season the cabbage (because Satoshi should be watching his salt), but you could definitely use salt, pepper, or your favorite dressing.

Though the television did not specify, I would try to use organic tea especially since you will be eating it.

It is a great way to use up tea that you have brewed and would normally just throw out or put into your compost.

I'm making this again.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Bambucha (huge) Spring cabbage at the market...298 yen (plus tax).

2 or so kilos (about 4 pounds).

Thinking about all the dishes I can make with this...

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

sakura walks

It's that time of year again...the cherry blossoms have started blooming and I've started to get out and about more.

I'm glad I got a glimpse of this weeping cherry.

And this one.

And this one.

The temps should hit 20C (68F) over the next couple of days so it should help the blossoms bloom a bit more, BUT there is rain forecast from Thursday through the weekend, so hopefully winds won't blow everything away...

Hope to show you more...