Wednesday, March 31, 2021

sakura walk (zojoji, hibiya park, chidorigafuchi)

Last Wednesday, Satoshi had the day off, so we got out to check out the sakura (cherry blossoms)

We started off at Zojoji...
Then walked up to Heigoro...this tiny shop was featured on an New Years special drama of "Kodoku no Gurume".

This was totally out of my pandemic comfort zone and it was my first time since last year to eat in a restaurant with non-family members.

The "good" thing about this was that no one spoke, just ate.

Satoshi had their daily special which was beef cutlet.

It came with daikon oroshi (grated daikon) and ponzu (citrus soy).

All lunches come with miso soup and rice (not pictured large bowls of all-you-can-eat tsukemono (pickles)..had to stop "someone" from eating more tsukemono that he should be...ahem!

I chose the Wafu (Japanese style) steak...this was served with a garlic shoyu sauce.

The meat was cooked rare and it had lots of black pepper on it.

Bummer there was some gristle and you had to eat it with chopsticks.

I would have appreciated a knife and fork instead of trying to tear through some of the gristle-y meat.

After lunch we walked to Hibiya Park.

And then up the slight hill to Chidorigafuchi...we were amazed at how close these parks were to each other.

The last time we were here (2 years prior) it was overcast, so it was nice to see this area with the sun out.

Short video here

And then we walked across the street to the National Theatre to look at their sakura...short video here.

We walked back to Hibiya Park and walked the other half of the park...

Where we saw some pretty in the sunlight.
We also checked out Okano Eisen which has been around since 1912?!

We felt they were very cold and unhelpful, especially since it was our first time here.

Bummer that mostly everything was sold out too since it was near the end of the day...they are actually known for their mame daifuku...

I tried their kuri joyo manju (steamed manju filled with a whole kuri (chestnut))...Satoshi tried their "plain" joyo manju (steamed manju with kuri bits)

Not sure we'll be back, but still glad we got to try them.

We found a tiny pocket park nearby in the middle of the city to eat our manju.
Beautiful shakunage (rhododendron) blooming.
Before hopping back on the train to go home, Satoshi and I shared this mixed fruit juice from Fruit Ozawa.

It was a beautiful day, our legs were screaming from walking so much (26151 steps) was nice to check out the sakura.

1-11-14 Toranomon
Minato, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3500.5385
Closed Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays
Lunch: 11:00-14:00, Dinner 17:30-21:30
*cash only

Okano Eisen
3-8-24 Toranomon
Minato, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3433.5550
Closed Sundays and Holidays
Hours: Mondays-Fridays 9:00-17:00, Saturdays 9:00-12:00
*cash only

Fruit Ozawa
2-16-1 Shinbashi (inside New Shinbashi 1F)
Minato, Tokyo
Phone: 03.3501.3704
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Hours: Mondays-Fridays 8:00-20:00, Saturdays 9:00-18:00
*cash only

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

tokyo people

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Monday, March 29, 2021

nishiyama tsukudani

Around this time of year, we receive our stash of ikanago no kugini from MIL.

Well, since this year is “different”...I ordered some after someone posted about it on social media.

Luckily, when we started to eat from our last container earlier this year,  something told me to write down the name of the place that she had ordered from.

(Since I had not noted where she bought from in the past, I am not sure if she had ordered from this place every year)

Over the weekend, we received our order.

The one without a colorful sticker has ginger, green sticker is with sansho (Japanese pepper) and the purple sticker is with walnuts.

I put the bulk into the freezer and will take them out over the year.

I like to mix some with rice and make them into musubi.

Another way we eat them is to top tamagoyaki (rolled omelette).

Dunno if Satoshi will think of MIL whenever he eats this but I know I will.

Friday, March 26, 2021

this and that

Last Friday, I went back to the Gakugeidaigaku area to send something to Hiromi, whose birthday is coming up.

I also checked our Maison Romi-Unie, which I’ve had bookmarked since we lived in Osaka...

I purchased their mini sakura poundcake & shortbread.

The poundcake could have had more sakura flavor, but both were good with white wine.

I love how some of their cookies are sold by weight and some are sold by the piece.

Saturday night just as we were starting to eat dinner, there was another big earthquake in Miyagi prefecture.

We shook in Tokyo was a 3 for us but 7 for them...eep!

Grateful my friend in Sendai was okay.

Thankful to everyone who checked on us.

Sunday it rained if it isn’t boring enough to stay at home during this pandemic.

Sunday night or more like early Monday morning we shook a little from a small earthquake in Chiba...I felt it but “someone” didn’t.

Monday, guess who went out drinking?! 

Says Satoshi...”The end of the fiscal year is coming up and people are getting transferred”...blah blah blah...

Hoping it was a “safe” get together...

Monday was also the 1 year memorial for my Aunty who we lost to this pandemic...white ginger and "kaimana hila" is what I think of when I think of her.

Too many lives lost during this pandemic.

Since the cherry blossoms have started (two weeks early!) I'll start my sakura walk posts next week (if you follow us on Instagram, you'll know we've started to check them out)

Our numbers in Japan are rising, more cases of the variants.

Experts saying we need more testing, government not listening to said experts....sigh

The Olympic torch run across Japan started yesterday, and apparently they are not allowing (foreign) spectators to the games...

Our vaccines are moving at snail’s pace or even slower.

The young age groups here are partying like there is no pandemic.

Have a safe weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

menya kokoro

Saturday, we tried Menya Kokoro, they are a popular shop that makes Taiwan mazesoba.

Their main shop is in the Oookayama area of Tokyo, but have franchises all over Japan and some overseas.

Luckily, we have a shop nearby.

This dish comes with a raw egg...only in Japan, yeah?!

Mix everything and eat!

Spicy and a little fishy from the fish powder/fish meal.

The noodles are thick like udon.

The portion was a little too much for me but we enjoyed this.

We'll be back to try other things on their menu.

Menya Kokoro

7-61-1 Kamata

Ota, Tokyo

Phone: 03.3734.8909

Open daily: 11:30-14:30 (lunch),  17:00-23:30 (dinner)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


Came across this takikomigohan mix at the market.

It is made by a famous ryokan in Kanazawa called Asadaya that has been around since 1659!

Just mix the stock with 2 cups of washed need to add water.
Cook and enjoy!

I loved the sakura aroma that it had while cooking.

The rice turns a light pink, but that is from coloring.

I would definitely get this one again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

pink lemons

Have you ever tried pink lemons?

I happened to stumble upon them when I passed by a tiny fruit & veggie stand recently.
They have a slight green stripe and some pink on the skin.

A bag with 7 were only 150 yen (plus tax)...I am not sure but think they were grown in Japan.

It was our first time trying this, they are puckery like "normal" lemons.

I love the slight pink color of the flesh and glad we got to try these.

Monday, March 22, 2021

tokyo people

Turn your sound down if you are viewing this at work.


p.s. V pointed out to me that you cannot view these videos from a smartphone. Please go to the bottom of the screen and click on “web version”, you should then be able to view the video...crossing fingers that it works.

 p.p.s. If you do not want to do all of that, please click on this link to go straight to youtube...

Friday, March 19, 2021

this and that

How are you doing?

We received a nice surprise...Thank you Carol for sending us your delicious Paris map.

Have you seen the news on those yucky sandstorms in China?

Well, they have made the sunrises pretty spectacular here.

Since the sand that is flying around is apparently so minute, the weather dude mentioned that anyone that was caught in the rain wearing a white t-shirt these days would have a black t-shirt when it dried...eew!
Saturday, the rain was krazy...I heard there was also hail in some parts of Tokyo too. 

Sunday, it was beautiful, but so blustery! 

Someone's umbrella flew off their lanai, I thought it was a bird when it passed overhead. (click on the photo to see it)

Sunday was also White Day...but guess who forgot...pfft.

Remind me next year...No more chocolates for him...ha!

I bought some cheeses from Daiwa Farm.

If you remember, we tried some of their products last May through Tabechoku.

These cheeses have interesting names.

From left to right: Robi-Daiwa = robiola (washed),  Toma-Daiwa = toma (semi-hard) & Yamankubbai Bleu = bleu cheese.

The bleu cheese is named after the area of Miyazaki Prefecture that they are made, in the cheese maker's local dialect.

My only peeve with this cheese maker is that they do not tell you how many grams you are purchasing...the bleu was 50 grams and the other two were 100 grams...we’re having this with wine tonight!

Monday, the sakura started blooming...apparently it is two weeks early?!

Tuesday morning we were shaken awake by an earthquake with its epicenter in Ibaraki...if you ask me, the earthquakes these days have been shaking a little longer and more scary!

I love walking past this senior day care...they always have some sort of craft posted in this frame outside...this one was origami tulips.

It looks like the main branch of goverment will end the State of Emergency for Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures this Sunday...even with the variant cases increasing...sigh

Have a safe weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

tokyo, kyoto & osaka people

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

echigoya tareido

When we were in Kyoto, we received this castella from SIL.

I did not know about Echigoya Tareido.

Apparently they have been in business since the end of the Edo period!

Love the package!
Since we could not eat all of it before the expiration date, I sliced it and then wrapped each slice in plastic wrap and stuck it into the freezer.

Love how quickly the castella defrosts, only about 30 seconds in the microwave.

Thanks SIL!

Echigoya Tareido
133 Hanshuin Maecho
Kamigyo, Kyoto
Phone: 075.431.0289
Closed Wednesdays
Hours: 9:00-17:00

Tuesday, March 16, 2021


Stumbled upon these “local”(Japan grown) lemons which I have a feeling are Meyer lemons because they aren’t too sour and the skin is smooth.

I think there were 4 or 5 in the bag and pretty cheap, 169 yen plus tax.

I remember about 10 years ago my friend Rona was looking for Meyer lemons in Japan and they were hard to come by.

It is nice that produce that are popular in the US is being grown here.

Monday, March 15, 2021


One thing I re-learned when MIL passed was that the kimono they put her in would not "show off" the pretty flowers that she had on the left side of her kimono.

Most kimono are designed to have pretty flowers and such on the left side (when worn).

When a person dies though, the right side of the kimono is placed over the left, so these pretty flowers and such tend to get covered up.

This is a photo I took back in 2008 at the Toji flea market, you can see the left side of the kimono (when a person wears it) is very decorative and the right side is kind of plain.

Friday, March 12, 2021

this and that

My foreigner card's expiration date is coming up, so last Friday, we went to get it renewed before we left for Kyoto.

We appreciated that we didn't need to wait in the long queue that was was snaking around out in front of the building, but what a mess it was inside!

No signage as to what needed to be done (probably more so because of the pandemic)...thankfully though we were in and out rather "quickly" (30 minutes give or take)...

These days whenever we go to Kyoto, we always pick up some doughnuts from Kamo Donuts.

They are kitty corner to where MIL lives, so we just run across the street and get our fix.

Since I was cleaning all day with SIL, I totally forgot to wear a mask when I went to get these (though I probably should have worn one with all that dust)...luckily the guy working there let me just cover my mouth with my hand and point at the showcase.

Another thing we eat whenever we are in Kansai is 551...

Since BIL had bought pizza for our lunch on Monday, Satoshi picked up an assortment of items from 551 for our lunch on Tuesday.

I was impressed that Satoshi remembered that MIL loved these anpan from Kokoroniamai Anpanya and picked some up for her.

We placed some on MIL's altar and we also enjoyed some too.

SIL said she has always wanted to try these but was never willing to line up for them, I'm glad she got to try them.
I thought I was pretty good at purging, but my SIL has proved that she is the queen of purging, so I brought back a few dishes from MIL's stash as they may not be there the next time we go to Kyoto for MIL's 49 day service in April...

Itami Airport got a face lift just as we moved to Tokyo in 2018, it was our first time seeing all the changes and we loved how spacious (and new) everything looked.

Tokyo's numbers seem to have plateaued in the 300 case range. 

When we went to Kyoto/Kansai by plane, I was shocked that it was a full flight.

Even if we all wore masks during the funeral and cremation, we did have meals with family (which was totally out of my pandemic comfort zone), so hopefully we all will be okay.

Have a safe weekend.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

10 years

Some might say that what happened on this day feels like yesterday while others may say it feels like a very long time ago.

Sending our prayers and thoughts to the people of Tohoku and the surrounding areas especially today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

saying goodbye

We just came back after spending the past 5 days in Kyoto.

Thank you to those who reached out to us and gave your condolences, we appreciate it!

Last Thursday, MIL and BIL had lunch together.

BIL went back to work and MIL had an appointment with her home care doctor and care worker.

When the doctor and care worker came, they found MIL collapsed in the kitchen and she had already passed.

Apparently her death was caused by an irregular heart beat.

I wrote previously here about when FIL passed and this is similar to what happened on Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday and Tuesday, SIL and I cleaned...eww to rat poop!

We all agreed that we should all pay for professionals to come in to get rid of  "things" because there is just too much stuff to get rid of.

It was so sudden but I am glad she did not suffer.

I am thankful she was not bedridden, did not have dementia and lived by herself for as long as she did.

I am thankful to all the care workers, doctors, BIL and SIL for always looking out for MIL.

Friday would have been her 92nd birthday.

We love you MIL and you will be missed.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

tokyo people

 If you are viewing this at work, turn your sound down...



Monday, March 08, 2021

this and that

Tuesday, the weather was rainy and windy.

So windy, I thought we were in the midst of a typhoon.

Wednesday was Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day).

You could see many dolls displayed here and there.

Huge jinchoge (daphne) bush (left) and jade plant (right) in front of someone's home.

I love the fragrance of daphne, it is kind of strong like tuberose.

I passed by this door and window shop and they had this homemade door made from all sorts of pieces of wood.
I bought us some sakura mochi from Okuniya for Girl's Day.

The "bumpy" looking one is made from Domyoji-ko and is Kansai style (West Japan).

The smooth looking one is Kanto style (East Japan).

I've written about this before here.

Dinner was sushi...I bought these temarizushi (balls of sushi).

It looks like Tokyo's state of emergency will be extended since our numbers have not gone lower than 300.

The temperature has flip-flopped from very warm to very fahreezing.

Stay safe and have a nice weekend.

Friday, March 05, 2021

when life throws you curves

We found out that MIL passed away yesterday.

With the pandemic, the last time we saw her was about this time last year for FIL’s 13th memorial service.

Tokyo is still in a state of emergency, so we are not too sure what we can do to help BIL though we are trying to get to Kyoto in the coming days.

I don’t think she passed away because of COVID, but I’m sure we’ll find out more when we see BIL.

I have a few posts lined up, but it may be quiet here after that.

Please have a safe weekend.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

mr ito's ka-san ketto

Came across these crackers at the market.

They look like the creme crackers I grew up with which we used to get from Hilo Macaroni on the Big Island.

I was sad when Hilo Macaroni went out of business.

Diamond Head Brand makes a similar cracker but somehow it isn't the same.

These are made by Mr Ito, a company from Ibaraki that makes cookies and crackers.

They are thinner than the ones we used to get from Hilo Macaroni, but they smell the same.

These are called Ka-san (mother) ketto (short for biscuit)

My favorite way to eat them was to put peanut butter and guava jelly on them.

These crackers are sweeter than the ones I grew up with.

Still, I'm glad I got to try these and happy I got to relive some nice childhood memories.