Wednesday, June 20, 2018

oh em gee

You may have heard that a huge earthquake hit Osaka and the surrounding areas.

Apparently it was a 6, strong enough that you probably wouldn't be able to stand...eep!

The area where we used to live, Minoo, was in that 6 range as well as Takatsuki where we lived pre-blog.

My friend, Hiromi who lives in Ikeda, said that it was so scary.

I can't imagine what it was like.

Luckily, MIL was okay and everyone I messaged said they were okay too.

So many volcanoes on the "Ring of Fire" erupting and shaking these days.

Stay safe and be well everyone.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Thought I should update you as to what is happening "in real life"...

My passport took 2 weeks to get renewed (just as they had estimated).

Apparently, they don't expedite them for a fee like they do in the States, but are apparently faster (and apparently are more expensive) than the States.

On the day of my appointment, they took me earlier than my appointment time and I thought it was all pretty speedy.

After receiving my passport, I looked online for flights...

I really wanted to fly out from Haneda (because we only live 30 minutes away by train).

I usually fly JAL but apparently the only flights JAL has flying out of Haneda are code-shared with Hawaiian (using Hawaiian's planes).

The flights are about $200 (both ways) more than flying out from Narita and are really late at night.

I've also heard mixed reviews about flying even if Narita is out of the way for me, I decided to fly out from Narita.

In the past couple of weeks, we got to eat some peaches.

This particular variety from Yamanashi prefecture is called Hakuho and was a little more "perfume-y" than varieties we've had over the years.

As always, the skins just peel off because they are perfectly ripe.

We also got to eat some sakuranbo from Yamagata prefecture.

I have never had "sweet" sakuranbo.

Maybe I don't know how to choose them or maybe they are supposed to be sour-ish, but the ones I've picked out are always tart.

I am pretty sure the Japanese do not realize the goodness of beets (yet), these beauties were in the "old veggie" area of the market...only 398 yen (plus tax) cheap and so big!

Oh and my dental issues which started back in April...are still not resolved and will be taking a "summer vacation", while I am in Hawaii...

In fact, I should already be in Hawaii when this posts.

While in Hawaii, we'll be having a service for my father and settling his estate.

It may be quiet here, just thought I should let you know.

Be well and talk to you soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

verve coffee

I am not sure how I heard about Verve Coffee, a coffee shop from Santa Cruz, California.

When I went to Shinjuku the other day, I stumbled upon their shop and tried their Kaffe Tonic...espresso that has tonic water added.

A bit pricey at 650 yen (plus tax), this was delicious and perfect for the humidity.

I'll be back when I am in the area.

Verve Coffee
Shinjuku Station
Phone: 03.6273.1325
Hours: Weekdays 7:00-22:00, Saturdays & Sundays 7:00-21:00

Monday, June 11, 2018

orient bakery

Remember Ikegami Orient Bakery?

Well, I recently stumbled upon the main shop.

There is a shopping street with my family name, O, in our area and located on that shopping street is Orient Bakery.

I asked the lady at the register if they were related to Ikegami Orient Bakery and found out they are.

I tried their mushroom cheese bread and fish burger...both were delicious!

This fish burger was better than the one I tried from the Ikegami store.

They also had more baked items than the Ikegami store.

I am glad there are many different bakeries in the area to choose from.

Orient Bakery
5-8-16 Nishi Kamata
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3731.5182
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 7:00-19:00

Sunday, June 10, 2018


I first heard about the Ruby Kit Kat from Rowena of Rubber Slippers In Italy.

I was a bit leery of the whole thing because most of the flavored Kit Kats in Japan are basically white chocolate based with the various flavors added/mixed in.

So, the other day, I happened to be near a Kit Kat Chocolatory (in some department stores around Japan) and bought one.

At 432 yen (tax included) this is not cheap.

It started off sweet (like white chocolate) then the tartness followed.

Would I buy this again?

Maybe not, but I am glad I tried it.

Thanks for bringing my attention to this Rowena, and I hope you get to try this when it is launched in Europe.

Saturday, June 09, 2018


A couple of stations from where we live is Kugahara.

Like most of the stations in this area, they have their own shopping arcade.

I had bookmarked Hutte, which apparently means "hut" in German.

This tiny bakery is filled with all sorts of hard type breads.

I bought some breads for us to try.

The hamburger was homemade, and went nicely with their bun.

The chocolate cranberry and walnut stick was filled to the gills with chocolate!

Satoshi enjoyed his mentaiko baguette...baguette that is slathered with butter and topped with mayonnaise and mentaiko (spicy pollack roe).

The scone was also filled with lots of chocolate and chunks of walnuts.

And then I stumbled upon Mon Reve, a french bakery.

Chorizo tarte was like a spicy pizza and the meat pie was flaky and filled with lots of cheese and seasoned ground beef.

Yamamoto is a tiny meat shop in between of these two bakeries.

The kushikatsu (fried things on a stick) was delicious.

Sweet onions and pork fried perfectly.

I'll be back to these shops and look forward to finding more places to try.

29-9 Higashiminemachi
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5700.1500
Closed Sundays & 3rd Mondays
Hours: 8:00-20:00

Mon Reve
27-10 Higashiminemachi
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.5748.0118
Closed Tuesdays
Hours: 8:00-20:00

29-9 Higashiminemachi
Ota, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3754.9858

Friday, June 08, 2018

tataki kyuuri (smashed cucumber)

Jenny of Maybe It's Jenny, was recently talking about tataki kyuuri (smashed cucumber).

I had bought a cucumber for poke but couldn't find good maguro, so I decided to try making smashed cucumber instead.

The recipe I used was from Shirogohan...If you can read some Japanese or your computer can translate, there are lots of recipes on this site that are great with rice.

I didn't add the grated ginger as the recipe directs, but will definitely try this again with some grated ginger.

2 cucumbers
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
1.5 teaspoons shoyu
1/4 teaspoon salt (if needed)

Smash your to show you how here
Break the smashed cucumber with your hands into smaller pieces
Grate the ginger
Add the sauce ingredients
Mix well

NOTES: This is great way to relieve stress!

And it is so easy to put together, no cooking involved.

I would make this a couple hours before eating (even maybe a day before), so the cucumber has some time to soak in the sauce.

Definitely making this again...thanks Jenny for the inspiration!

Thursday, June 07, 2018


I knew that they had fishmongers to gut your fish at the supermarkets.

What I didn't know is that they also cut slabs of fish into sashimi (sliced raw fish) for you.

I found a nice piece of madai (sea bream) at the market and right in front was a sign showing that they also cut it into sashimi (thin slices), cubes as well as thicker slices.

I asked the fishmonger behind the counter to slice it into sashimi or otsukuri as it is sometimes called.

No extra charge and they also add a packet of wasabi and shoyu.

Will definitely take advantage of this service in the future.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

pickled ginger

If you can get your hands on some young ginger, this recipe is super easy and tasty.

As seen on a television program, "The Taikoban":

400 grams ginger
350 cc vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon honey

Clean & slice ginger (chunky) (or thin if you like)
Boil vinegar, salt & honey until honey and salt dissolve
Pour over ginger
Store in airtight jar

NOTES: this isn't too sweet so if you like the sweeter pickled ginger (like the types that are sometimes served with sushi), adjust the amount of honey.

I am glad I tried this recipe and would definitely make this again.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

new neighbors

It's been a couple of weeks since this family of sparrows moved into the metal thingy on the electric pole in front of our lanai...

Although they can be a bit noisy, they are better to check out than the scary crows that sometimes sit on the electrical lines.

Crows really scare me...

Hope your week is going well.

Monday, June 04, 2018


Have been trying to work natto into my diet, but cannot get past the stinkiness.

I think I found a brand from Gunma that isn't stinky.

I like that they just wrap it in a thick piece of paper, or maybe it is a thin piece of bamboo leaf...they also don't include any Japanese mustard or sauce, so you can control how you eat it and what you eat it with.

The other morning, I masked the natto with some kim chee, a little sesame oil and a little shoyu.

I know natto isn't everyone's "thing", but I think I'll be eating natto this way for now.

Sunday, June 03, 2018


Satoshi and I have been seeing sumotori (Japanese wrestlers) in our neighborhood.

A quick look online showed that we have a sumobeya (stable) in our neighborhood.

The Onoe sumobeya (stable) has been around since 2006.

The most "famous" sumotori from this stable is Baruto, an Estonian who went as high as ozeki in the sumo ranks.

Quite a novelty to see these sumotori out and about in our area.

On a side note, if you are familiar with sumo, over the years there were 4 wrestlers from Hawaii (Takamiyama, Konishiki, Akebono & Musashimaru).

Hope to catch the wrestlers from Onoe sumobeya practicing one day.

Saturday, June 02, 2018


One thing we've noticed is that our area has a lot of sento (scent-oh...public bathhouses).

We have several a couple of minutes walking distance away from where we live.

And since our furo (bath) does not have a reheating unit (it is super old!) we are probably gonna be using the neighborhood sento this winter.

Sento is more casual than onsen (hot springs).

Like onsen though most sento have a bathing fee.

You need to bring your own towel, soap, shampoo, etc.

And if you want to use the hair dryer afterwards, there is a fee too.

There was an article I found about some of the sento in our area here.

Hope to share with you our sento experience later this year.

Friday, June 01, 2018

grocery finds

Some grocery finds...malabar spinach from Miyagi prefecture.

My father used to grow something similar in his backyard but he called it Okinawan spinach, so I think it must be a different variety.

After rinsing it, I just wilted it in a non-stick pan.

We ate it twice, once with mayo and once with sesame dressing.

It does have a little sliminess to it so even if it is called spinach it is a little different.

The other items we have bought before...blueberries, togan (wintermelon) and colorful radishes.

I am enjoying my trips to different supermarkets in the area.