Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Sunday, as the typhoon was approaching Honshu, we luckily flew from Osaka to Tokyo.

While in Tokyo, the rain was coming down in buckets.

It was our first time attending an o-wakarekai(oh-wha-kah-ray-kah-ee=farewell gathering) for Satoshi's friend, Gen, who passed away this summer.

Most times, Japanese have funerals and wakes but these days families are often opting for private services, so these farewell gatherings are getting somewhat "popular".

I am glad we were able to pay our respects to Gen's family and also spend some time with Satoshi's college baseball alumni.

Since the funerals and wakes here can be a bit too formal, it is nice that there are these somewhat casual type of gatherings even if it is to say goodbye.

The photo above was the beautiful quilt that was in the lobby area of the hotel.

Thank you Gen for your friendship, you will be missed.

Friday, October 27, 2017

saba tofu dry curry

The other day I was surfing around and caught part of the many health programs they show here and one of the things they mentioned was how fish like saba (mackerel) can boost your good cholesterol.

They also gave an easy recipe so I tried it last night.

Saba Tofu Dry Curry : 4 servings (or less depending on your serving size) : adapted from television show

1/2 tofu (about 160 grams)
1 can saba (mackerel packed in water) (about 200 grams)
nub of ginger, grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Press water out of tofu and break up with your hands, press between paper towel again.

Drain the water from the can and break up the saba into a pan.

Add ginger, tomato paste, curry and worcestershire sauce.

Cook on medium-low until all liquid has evaporated.

NOTES: Super easy to make and tasty.

The ginger helps to mask any "fishiness".

The original recipe calls for ketchup but I used tomato paste instead to cut out some sugar.

Also, I didn't have any worcestershire sauce, so I used tonkatsu sauce.

This was good on rice but I am also thinking it might be good in gyoza wrappers, and hope to try this way soon.

We have another typhoon approaching over the next couple of days...hoping this one won't be as bad.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


We recently tried Nishikiya's instant curry.

Apparently the main company is located in Miyagi Prefecture.

I love the packaging.

So far we've tried the two on the left. The top left is a yuzu keema. Very clean flavors.

The bottom left is a tomato beef curry. Lots of tomato and some pieces of beef.

Even though the packages said spicy, these were very mild.

I noticed that they have other items like okayu (rice porridge) and soups and will probably order from them so we can try.

p.s. we have sun today but another typhoon is approaching...boo!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Over the summer I reconnected with a dish from my past...Italian Delight.

I didn't realize this but the recipe was actually from my Grandma's stash of recipes.

My mom used to make this and freeze some for a weekday dinner, just popping it into the oven before eating.

Italian Delight : not sure where the original recipe is from


• 1 lb ground beef (about 450 grams)
• 1/2 cup salad oil (use just enough to brown ground beef)
• 1 onion chopped
• 1 clove garlic minced
• 1 green pepper chopped (optional)
• 1-8 ounce can tomato sauce (about 226 grams)
• 1 can cream of mushroom soup
• 1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon thyme
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
• 1-3 ounce can sliced mushrooms (about 80 grams)
• 1-8 ounce pkg spaghetti (about 226 grams)
• 1-12 ounce can whole kernel corn (about 340 grams)
• 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
• Salt and Pepper to taste.


Cook spaghetti according to directions, drain.

Brown ground beef in oil with minced garlic.

Add onions, corn and saute.

Add rest of ingredients, except cheese and spaghetti.

Cook for 10 minutes.

Mix spaghetti in sauce.

Place in 3-quart casserole dish.

Sprinkle with cheese (about a cup).

Bake at 350F (180C) for 40 minutes.

NOTES: My grandma's version uses spaghetti noodles, but my mom's version uses macaroni.

I added my own addition of fresh maitake (hen of woods), eliminating the oil to cook the meat and also eliminated the can of sliced mushrooms and worcestershire (didn't have any).

My supermarket didn't have tomato sauce, so I used a can of crushed tomatoes.

Also, as I was looking for local beef, I ended up getting little amounts of local ground chicken, pork and beef instead.

My oven isn't too big, so I baked everything in a square pyrex dish for the 40 minutes, uncovered.

This was perfect comfort food for the day after that krazy typhoon...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Came across this brand of pickles called Nishidaya.

If I am not mistaken, they use veggies from Kyoto.

I loved the packaging.

And the pickles were nice and crisp.

I found this at Meiji-ya in Kyoto, but will keep and eye out for them elsewhere too.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Yesterday we had an apparent category 4 typhoon pass over...

The wind started up at about 5-ish in the afternoon and didn't stop until the middle of the night.

With the wind came tons of rain.

So much rain that we had to put towels near our front door because the rain was coming in and we live on the upper floors of our building!

I'm pretty sure this one came really close to us.

This morning, the wind is still krazily whipping and there are some drizzles, but the sun is kinda out and we are okay.

There were other areas that weren't so lucky, and the typhoon is still making its way up the rest of Honshu today.

We hope everyone will be back on their feet soon.

Have a good week everyone.

p.s. I wanted to put a photo with this post, but Flickr is down...

Sunday, October 22, 2017

kyoraku tsujigahana

V introduced me to a monaka chazuke by Kyoraku Tsujigahana.

We've tried something similar before from Kanazawa.

Monaka are wafers, you usually see them filled with sweet bean or ice cream. This particular version is filled with freeze dried veggies and instant soup.

The left package has 2 servings and comes with no monaka (wafer) while the tiny one on the right is an individual serving with the monaka (wafer).

The individual one with the monaka.

Underneath the monaka is a little packet of fish or tsukemono (pickles) depending on which one you buy.

I didn't read the directions, but before you put the wafer onto your rice, you should break it up, so the hot tea will melt the wafer and dissolve the soup nicely.

The type that comes without the wafer has four packets. Two with all the dry ingredients like soup and veggies and two with wet ingredients like fish or pickles.

Either version suggests you pour hot water or tea over.

They aren't found in all department stores here.

In fact, in the Kansai area, they can be found in Kyoto at their shop near Kawaramachi and in Kobe at Daimaru Kobe.

Thanks V for introducing us to this!

Kyoraku Tsujigahana
53-1 Daikoku-cho
Nakagyo, Kyoto
Phone: 075.253.0178
Hours: 10:30-18:00
Closed Wednesdays

Saturday, October 21, 2017


The other day I found a bambucha (huge) pear...and a teeny avocado.

The avocado cost more than the pear too.

To give you an idea as to how big this pear was I put it on my palm.

Our weather is freaky these days.

The rain is totally depressing and the temps have kinda skipped autumn and went into winter..eep!

Friday, October 20, 2017


In Japan, there are parking elevators where they don't have enough space to put parking structures.

The neat thing about this is that you don't have to be good at parking your car.

The elevator usually has a turntable to spin your car around in the direction you need to be in to get out.

You just drive onto the turntable, it spins your car around and then you drive it onto the lift.

Then when you want to exit, I assume you give them a number or ticket and they bring the lift down with your car on it.

You back it out off the lift and it spins you again into the direction you need to exit.

While I was sitting at Kiln Coffee Shop, there was such a parking elevator scarily right next to the shop.

In this case, they had a curtain there for both the driver's privacy as well as those sitting in the shop.

Do you have parking elevators where you live? Are they similar to the ones in Japan?

p.s. if you want to see a short video, please click on the photo.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

rainy sunday in kyoto

Sunday was rainy but Satoshi wanted to check out an exhibit at the Kyoto National Museum, so instead of going through similar kraziness like what we experienced with Hokusai, I decided to do my own thing and went on a cafe crawl.

I started at Ichikawaya Coffee. A tiny shop located off of Higashiyama-dori.

At first when I got there, there was a line, but because most parties were couples, I got the only seat left along their window seats.

I ordered their bacon mibuna sandwich. Mibuna is a veg similar to mizuna but with a little more "spiciness" like mustard cabbage. Apparently these days, it is mostly found in Kyoto and the surrounding areas.

The mibuna in this sandwich was pickled, it added a nice zing to the sandwich.

I also liked the nicely toasted milk bread that they used which was a little sweet.

The iced coffee was nice and strong too.

After breakfast, I walked back to the Shijo area. The rain was drizzling off and on.

After some window shopping, my next stop was Kiln Coffee Shop, the shop that is located under the "super friendly" Kiln...ahem!

I had their gorgonzola cheesecake which was topped with fresh figs.

The gorgonzola cheese wasn't overpowering and there were lots of walnuts in the cheesecake...delicious!

Bummer though there were these 2 inconsiderate Korean tourists sitting next to me that insisted on taking a bazillion photos of each other, while laughing and talking loudly.

Talk about irritating and noisy...

Late lunch with Satoshi was at Oreno Pan Okumura in Gion.

Meh, we didn't care to much for this place...the food seemed a bit overpriced...maybe that was why this place was super empty?!

Coffees before riding the train at Arabica Kyoto inside of Fujii Daimaru.

Despite the rain, Satoshi and I both got to do what we wanted.

I hope to be back to both cafes (hopefully with Satoshi in tow!)

Ichikawaya Coffee
396-2 Kanei-cho
Higashiyama, Kyoto
Phone: 075.748.1354
Hours: 9:00-18:00
Closed Tuesdays

Kiln Coffee Shop
194 Sendo-cho, Murakamiju Bldg 1F
Shimogyo, Kyoto
Phone: 075.353.3810
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: 11:00-23:00

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Back in June (I think), we received word that our SIM card for our pocket wi-fi would end and that the company we deal with had new SIM plans.

In my opinion, the plan we had was the best because it was a flat monthly rate of 1000 yen (plus tax).

You could use it for however many (bazillion) bytes, but I guess the company was losing money because of that.

So, the new SIM plans would be based on how many bytes you used.

Instead of paying a monthly fee for something we hardly use, we decided to cancel our plan.

In essence by subscribing over the past 5 years, we bought the pocket wifi gadget, so I am on the lookout for a SIM card that will let me use it as I need to.

Right now, though there are only 2 ways to use SIM cards here..1) monthly rate based on usage 2) 7-day or 30-day usage (mainly for tourists)

We really don't need the monthly version.

And the 7-day/30-day version is a junk option too because it starts counting down from the day you activate it and depending on your usage, you could use it up before the 7 or 30 days.

When I was wandering around in Tokyo, the amount of free wifi was limited, but way more than what we have in Osaka and even way more than what we have on Oahu (Hawaii).

Why can't the whole world have some kind of "free" wi-fi connection? First world problems, yeah?!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Maeshika had purple sweet potato..whoo!

This variety is called Nakamurasaki which literally means "middle purple".

I couldn't remember how much it was, but think it was 270 yen (plus tax).

When cut the middle is more purplish than the outer edges.

When cooked though, the whole flesh turns dark purple (love!)

I made some sweet potato salad with half of the nakamurasaki and a kurisatsu that I steamed.

I mixed 1 teaspoon of curry powder with mayo then folded the potatoes in it.

Not the most aesthetic, but delicious!

With the other half of the nakamurasaki, I roasted it in the oven and then cut it up and put it into some tapioca coconut milk...mmm!

Monday, October 16, 2017

shopping foodie friday in osaka

You know how in Osaka we say "kuidaore" (coo-ee-dah-oh-ray = eat until you drop)?

Well Friday was "kaidaore" (kah-ee-dah-oh-ray = shop until you drop) as I got to meet up with Reader V since she is in Osaka at the moment.

If you remember, we first met up with Jalna over the summer.

It was funny because when we first met she said, "I thought you would be at least 200 pounds with all that you eat!"

Anyway, she had a nice amount of items on her shopping list, so we went together to Namba to hang out and to tick some those shopping list items off.

Within minutes of Takashimaya opening we ticked off a couple of the places she wanted to shop at and then headed to MUJI.

We then walked from Namba to Honmachi, stopping for a caramel pudding with coffee jelly (gelatin) break at Starbucks.

And then more shopping at a shop specializing in mainly bags and containers for shops called Shimojima.

(I love this place because I can buy muffin papers and other kitchen things here for reasonable prices.)

Back in Umeda we had lunch at a dashi chazuke shop called En and then had espresso sodas at City Bakery.

It was super grey and raining off and on, but all in all it was a whirlwind shopping day and I am glad we got to meet up.

V was so nice to bring all sorts of goodies for us...like these ulu (breadfruit) chips that I think she said her friend makes.

It was my first time trying ulu this way, so good!

Cropsticks will be perfect to bring on picnics.

Kula Strawberry Chili Pepper Jam as pupu (appetizer) sounds good with cream cheese and crackers...

One of my favorite snacks..Kind Bars...

And an introduction to Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimba manga character.

I hope she had a nice time and I am glad that we got to tick some of the things on her shopping list off!

Lots of walking, lots of talking and lots of retail therapy!

Thanks for a great day V!

Friday, October 13, 2017

parking meter

The other day while walking in Osaka, I noticed several cars parked on the street.

We don't have a car so I really don't know how street parking works here, but I think you purchase a ticket from this machine...

The tickets are printed with the time that it will expire.

Then stick the ticket on the inside of your window.

I'm not sure if the ticket already has the sticky thing on it so that it can be stuck on your window, or if you have to have your own "stickers".

Anyway, I thought it was neat that you don't need to feed individual meters.

I don't know about you but sometimes in the US, I get confused as to which meter is the one that I need to feed.

Do you have parking meters similar to the ones in Japan?

Thursday, October 12, 2017


We came across Chojugaki recently.

Choju means long life and gaki (kaki) is persimmon in Japanese.

The insides are not as gel-like as the anpo-gaki that we have tried in the past, but still very delicious.

I'm glad we tried this and will keep my eye out for both types.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Because the hotel we were staying at had a "first come first serve" policy for riding their shuttle, we decided to get to the airport early and have breakfast.

On our way back to Osaka, I was in the right seat at the right time and got a "snowless" Mount Fuji video (click the photo to see it).

By 10:00-ish we were standing in this krazy line to see the Hokusai exhibit at the Abeno Harukas Museum.

People cutting in line for tickets and unreal shoving inside to see the different works, put a damper on my enthusiasm.

I tried patiently to see as many works as I could, but gave up towards the end of the exhibit and instead waited for Satoshi to exit the exhibit.

At 1:00-ish we went up 300 meters (984 feet) to the top of Abeno Harukas (which I think is the tallest building in Japan at the moment)

definitely not for those afraid of heights...

Lunch was late but delicious at Piccolo Curry.

This was their special beef and regular beef curries over rice topped with a scrambled egg.

Dessert was a matcha soft serve made with green tea from the Minami Yamashiro area of Kyoto at Hankyu Umeda Department store.

It was whirlwind 3-day weekend, even though it was quite summery, I'm glad we got to do all that we did.

Piccolo Curry
Abeno Harukas Dining 12F
Tennoji, Osaka
Phone: 06.6654.6063
Hours: 11:00-23:00
Open when Abeno Harukas is

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Sunday before the sun rose, we were on our way to the airport...

By 8:00-ish we were in Tokyo.

At 9:30-ish we were at the base of the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Too bad the air had a haze to it, I think the views from the top would've been something to see.

Satoshi wanted to check out the Tokyo Sumo area.

He had seen something that said there was a gift shop we could visit too...bummer both the area and shop were closed.

We then headed to Asakusa to check out a yoshoku-ya (western style shop), but the wait was krazy with the 3-day weekend, so we headed across the street to Kappabashi and found a reasonably priced sushi shop called Tasukezushi.

My nigiri set had 10 pieces and Satoshi had their chirashizushi...each were 1300 yen (tax included).

It was a nice fast (delicious) lunch.

Satoshi then headed to Jingu Stadium to watch his University baseball team.

I went on my own adventure.

Kappabashi, the largest area for kitchen/restaurant tools, tableware, like Osaka's Doguyasuji but 10x bigger, was having some kind of festival.

Had it not been so crowded I would've stayed longer but it was tough just moving between stores...

The Sky Tree as seen from Kappabashi.

I went to Kuramae, to check out the Dandelion Chocolate cafe & shop.

Since we've been having summery temps, I tried their cacao nib cold brew, which came with a tiny chocolate cookie & housemade marshmallow.

and their oatmeal cookie.

The cacao nib cold brew wasn't anything special, but the cookie...loved that it had chocolate, cacao nibs, cranberries, oatmeal & shredded coconut in it.

I got back on the train and headed to the Omotesando area.

And stopped into Sarutahiko Coffee.

It was too krazy hot to actually drink some hot coffee, but I really wanted (a photo of) their paper cup...and I was also thankful they had somewhere to sit while I waited for my cup to cool down a bit.

Down the street I checked out Hugo & Victor and picked up some of their dark chocolate mediants.

Candied almonds, pistachios & raisins top their dark chocolate...delicious!

Satoshi messaged and said that they had lost...boo!

We met up along the way and went to check out Niihao, which apparently created the hanetsuki gyoza (potstickers with wings).

We tried their shrimp.


Sizzling hot plate...(click the photo to hear it sizzle)


Mabo Tofu.

This place is fast! delicious and reasonable. I can see why people will wait for a table.

Plus 2 beers and an apricot wine drink for me our total was about 3500 yen (tax included).

It was a krazy long day. Lots of walking, lots of eating.

p.s. we used miles to fly to Tokyo and we bought the Keikyu Pass (1310 yen) which gets you from Haneda to Sengakuji then usage of all the subway lines for the day.

2-26-6 Matsugaya
Taito, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3841.4811
Closed Wednesdays

Dandelion Chocolate
4-14-6 Kuramae
Taito, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5833.7270
Hours: 10:00-20:00
*call before going, days off not set

Sarutahiko Coffee
4-3-3 Jingumae, inside of H.I.S. tour agency
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5775.2471
Hours: 11:00-19:00

Hugo & Victor (2022: no longer at this location)
4-12-10 Jingumae, inside Omotesando Hills
Shibuya, Tokyo
Phone: 03.6434.0912
Hours: 11:00-21:00, open when Omotesando Hills is

4-25-7 Kamata
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3734.2180
Lunch: 11:00-14:00, Dinner: 17:00-24:00

Tamadear Hotel
4-14-4 Haneda
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3741.5573
*free shuttle to Haneda Airport