Christmas 2013

In December, generally Japanese people are busy with so-called bonenkai, or year end party in which we usually get together with business associates, colleague or friends etc.etc.....

I had several dinner gatherings...... several nice places and dinners I enjoyed, which I will write about later.

One of the places was interesting... owned by first lady.... prime minister's wife, Mrs. Abe.  So, look forward to it!

Last night, I went to my alma mater to join their Christmas.  Looking back of my schooldays ( middle school and high school total 6 years ), the school always gave us a piece of Christmas cake.  The cake is usually shortcake.  It is packed in a mini box and we bring it home and eat.  Sort of small gift from school.

Then the other day, when I was having dinner with my American friends, I heard that there is no Christmas cake in the U.S. or there is no custom eating that.

Oh, I see.  Eating shortcake or fresh cream decorated cake with some strawberries on the top is very Japanese.  :-)

I would love to hear about your dessert situation at Christmas dinner table and the culture in your country.

In the meantime...... Merry Christmas!    Wishing you a merry, heartwarming Christmas or Happy Holidays!

Christmas Tree in the middle of High School Yard


Japanese Cooking Program

Go! Kitchen, Go!

Lazy bum, lately.  I mean I am working hard, but lazy on this blog.

Above link is TV program aired by NHK.  Lately, I am too busy to watch every week, still if I have time, I try to watch.

The uniqueness of this program is that they keep traveling all over Japan and when they reach a region, try to use the local ingredients for the cooking.

Japan is a small country, yet we have four distinguished seasons and each region has eminent local dishes, even I have not travelled enough to taste all of them.

So, if you are foreign guest, please try all the different dishes from each region.

If you want to see how they are before coming to Japan, please watch this program.


Shimokitazawa & other places ---- I would recommend these for visitors

Lately, I am asked about recommendations in my town or any other areas in Tokyo.  There are tons of restaurants here.... so selected Japanese Cuisine this time.  

This is a quickly made listing.  Hope this will be a help of some visitors here.
I hope I can add more restaurants gradually.

☆ Shimokitazawa 下北沢 しもきたざわ

Nanakusa 七草(ななくさ)  Japanese / Vegetable  $$-$$$ 

I would recommend this place especially for women.  Carefully prepared dishes are beautiful, yet healthy and light.  Small place.  Be sure to make a reservation in advance. 

Rokkoyo 六古窯(ろっこよう)Japanese / Seafood / Sake & Shochu  $$

I enjoy talking to the owner couple.  Always very nice. 
Small, cozy place serve dishes with traditional Japanese tableware, which have rustic texture.   Great food and comfortable setting.

You will also enjoy the illustration drawn on the menu, which the Miya-chan ( the wife ) painted. 

Kogi 古城(こぎ)Japanese / Various / Sake etc.  $$-$$$
Close to Rokkoyo.  This place is also ran by a couple. Great food. 
My friend's friend is the owner.

Uoshin 魚真 (うおしん) Japanese / Seafood etc. / Sake etc...   $$

If you love seafood and would like to enjoy reasonably, this is the place.
Always packed.

Kazaman-chi ( meaning the house of Kazama ) かざまん家 かざまんち
Japanese / Seafood etc...../ Sake etc.  $$


Niigata cuisine with delicious sake. I was shocked because their steamed white rice was sooooo good.

Tsuge 都夏(つげ)Japanese / Various Kinds of Food /Sake & Shochu $$
Casual Japanese place which is set in two story ( originally perhaps somebody's house ) building.  Various dishes, reasonable price. 

Gyutan TanTan牛タンたんたん  Japanese / Beef Tongue & Vegetable / Wine & Sake  $$
I visited their place today after a long interval.  The reason is we had crazy summer this year, while the weather was so hot, I didn't feel like eating grilled tongue or stew.

Eki 駅(えき)Japanese / Yakitori / Shochu & Beer  $-$$ 
Casual Yakitori place is not so beautiful!  More like diner or hole in the wall place has tasty, juicy Yakitori and easy on the purse. 

Shirubee 汁べえ (しるべえ)Japanese/ Various Dishes/ Sake etc. $$

Casual place makes you feel like visiting your friend's place since you need to take off your shoes.  

Marusan Foodsまるさんフーズ (まるさんふーず)Healthy Japanese / Vinegar Drink / Sake, Beer & Wine $$

They have long listing of vinegar drinks, so you have to try if you visit them.  Food here is mostly traditional Japanese. 

Sushikohすし好 (すしこう)Sushi / Sake etc….$$-$$$

Not cheap, yet not expensive, just right.  Good sushi place. 

Katsuyoshi かつ良 (かつよし)Pork Cutlet & Fried Oyster / Sake etc. $$-$$$

Located in the basement, they have been in town for a long time.
Cutlet is good, but their fried oyster is  big and delicious! 

Senmaya 千真野 (せんまや)Japanese / Sake etc.  $$$

They serve Kyoto style Japanese.  Young kids wouldn't come in here.
Quiet, small restaurant.  Once I had a business dinner here. 

Matsu 松 (まつ)Japanese / Sake etc.. $$$

Another high quality Japanese.  Cozy hidden place. 
Fuhjin 風神 (ふうじん)Japanese / Seafood etc.. / Sake etc..$$-$$$
I have not been to this place yet.  A grouemet lady mentioned this as one of the recommended places in this town, so let me add this.

Nodaiwa 野田岩(のだいわ)Japanese / Eel / Sake etc. $$$
(This is their group website. )
Shimokitazawa Shop is located behind FOODIUM, the supermarket building which has UNIQLO.  Actually, I have not tried this one in Shimokitazawa, but tried their HQ in Azabudai, which was delicious.

Dashin Soan 打心蕎庵(だしんそあん)Japanese / Soba/ Sake etc.  
Almost 10 min. walk is a worthwhile, you would feel after enjoying their soba and the decor.  Sophisticated nice place in front of Kitazawa Hachimangu ( Shrine ) can be found in a residential area of Shimokitazawa.  

☆Mt. Takao  高尾山 たかおさん

うかい鳥山 $$$

I love this place.  Beautiful setting in Takao Mountain area. 
Consisting of old villas, you can enjoy private dining in a quiet Japanese room. 

☆Higashikitazawa + Ikenoue 東北沢+池ノ上 ひがしきたざわ+いけのうえ 

Ikenoue  Koan 池ノ上 壷庵 (こあん) $$-$$$

Located one minute from Ikenoue station.  Right above the ATM of Mitsubishi UFJ Bank.  I didn't notice this place for a while.  Great place for both lunch and dinner. 

☆Yoyogi Uehara 代々木上原 よよぎうえはら

☆Shinsen 神泉 しんせん
Kaikaya 開花屋 (かいかや)Japanese/Seafood etc. / Sake& Wine etc..
When I was with a TV company, my boss, who was British used to love this restaurant.  Great seafood, friendly staff, bistro or pub like ambiance.  

☆Asakusa 浅草 あさくさ Japanese / Loach / Sake etc… $$-$$$
Komagata Dojo 駒形どぜう(こまがたどじょう)
Loach might sound like too exotic, but if you like eel, it is similar. 
The flavor or cooking method is totally different though.

Put a lot of chopped green onion and ginger.  


BARBARA MARKET PLACE ----Shin Marunouchi Bldg.

 I have tried BARBARA in Shinjuku.  This was the first time to try this Barbara...located in the basement of Shin Marunouchi Bldg.....near Nijubashimae Station or Tokyo Station.

The occasion was monthly meeting with my business associates and lunch.

Drink bar is conveniently located near our table, so we had variety of drinks to choose from.... all included in the lunch price, which is 1,050 yen.

We were sitting inside first, then two more arrived, so moved out to the open space outside.  ( good for 5, 6 people's meeting!)

I ordered grilled curry plate..... with vegetables and seasoned ground meat.  It was tasty.  Not salty, but the flavor was a bit strong for me.  

That is probably my excuse, for I ordered dessert pancakes .... smaller than regular size...300 yen :-)

Pancakes are still popular in Tokyo... several foreign pancake shops are here.... still hard to get in.

Next time, I will talk about them.   I wish I had more time to wait in the long lines!


Mini Fasting..... trying out the idea learned from NPR Article

Breakfast of 2nd day of Mini Fasting
This morning breakfast.  Yes, light.  or lighter than usual.

I probably haven't told you that I started mini-fasting or two days a week fasting.

The original article is here on NPR.

mini fasts 2 days a week Diet Plan

I guess this is my WEEK 3.  I don't look fat, but I know there is some kind of unnecessary meat around my waist.  :-)

If I could loose 4 more kilograms, I would feel comfortable.

Yes, this current weight is not the best, I think the body knows.  It feels a bit heavy, not comfortable enough, which I feel, for example, when I climb up stairs.

I just had very light soba noodle lunch.  Will probably not eat till tomorrow morning.  If it is everyday, too hard and this is not sustainable, but this is just two days a week.  It feels OK and gives my daily diet plan a sort of feeling of tension, meaning I become more careful about what to use, buy or try not to waste food I bought.

Let's see how it works.  What I expect is not just weight loss.  A sense of good feeling..... total wellness or well-being.


Noodles appear often in this crazy heat.

Somen Noodle
This is today's lunch.  Somen noodle, often eaten in summer.  Topping is diced steamed chicken breast, diced cucumber, grated daikon radish.  A piece of pickled plum.  

Somen can be cooked in 2 min., which is helpful, because in this hot weather, you don't want to cook too long in the kitchen.

The heat has come back here...... almost 40 degrees Centigrade or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than our body temperature.

I had one lesson to teach this morning.

The weather forecast had predicted that record heat would come.....yes, I had decided to stay in the co-working space after the lesson.

Worked on some preps, after that, I enjoyed reading staying in cool air-conditioned library.

At the moment, I am reading " The Age of Miracles".  Riveting.  Cannot put this down.  Will write again when I finished reading it.


Tokyo Jamii in Yoyogi Uehara --- Look at Beautiful Mosque

Visited Tokyo Jamii, Japan's Largest Mosque in Yoyogi Uehara for the First Time and Had Turkish Iftar Feast

Iftar @ Tokyo Jamii
In a way, I am typical Japanese.   When somebody passed away, we hold Buddhist's funeral.

I went to a Christian school for Jr. High, Sr. High and college.

In new year, I go to Japanese shrine wishing happy  and prosperous year.

It is like balancing all the religion and philosophy.

It does not mean we do not respect Islams and/or Christians....  Hope you understand this.

I always wanted to visit this mosque, which is showing its beautiful tower near Yoyogi Uehara station. ( Odakyu & Chiyoda Line )

During Ramadan ( right now ), they treat the visitors ( if you get there before 7p.m. you can probably get your plate.) with this Iftar.

I didn't expect this much.  It was wonderful.  There was also drinks ( orange juice and water ), salad to be served to individuals, pastry and slices of bread.

There were so many people.  I went with three other friends and in order to let make seats for the people waiting in line, we need to leave quickly, but if I have chance, I would love to learn more about Islam.

The reason?  I feel it is sad that often there are wars because of the difference in beliefs.  Understanding other culture could help mutual understandings.

I know many people say there is only one god in Christianity and also in Islam.
Also, it is more profound and not so simple.  Still, this is my attitude.... trying to learn more.

If you are interested visiting this mosque during Ramadan, please check this website.

Iftar @ Tokyo Jamii


July Tech Festa --------@ English Cafe

Lunch Box 
I am writing blog, use several kinds of SNS.
Yet, my friends know I am not techie at all.

I am writing this blog today sitting here in English Cafe held by the event organizer.....of July Tech Festa.

A student of mine..... a CEO of IT company invited me to this event.  When I walked into the cafe, I said " Hello!  I am probably the most analog , non-techie person! "

Everybody was so nice.  I got this lunch box also, which I didn't expect.  Shrimp cutlet lunch box.

OK, it's now 12:56.  From 1 p.m., they will start "English Only, please! "


Le Sun Palm Shibuya ---- FAST FRENCH in Mark City

Today's Plate w/ Red Wine
When a working woman wants to eat quick, yet healthy dinner with a glass of table wine, where would be a good place?

I don't mind eating out alone at typical Japanese tavern.... or izakaya, but that often costs too much for quick dinner or hard to choose balanced dishes if you are alone.

This place is located right beneath Shibuya Station ( Inokashira Line) , in Mark City, so after eating it is easy to go up the station.

This 850 yen dinner plate has healthy, vegetable, chicken and salmon combination and it comes with a glass of red wine ( or you can choose soft drinks as well ).  Comfortable, small Fast French has some dessert menu also. ( next time I have to try them.)

New Restaurants in Shimokitazawa

Cafe Normale Shimokitazawa
Noce, a furniture shop is running this place.  

Yes, they use their own furniture in the cafe.  You will see the menu of furniture first....

First I thought " What!?  Their plates are expensive.... 15,000 yen !?  ( equivalent to 150 USD ) "

No, if you'd like, you can order some table or couch, but you don't have to :-) .

I ordered hot PANINI.  Crispy hot panini was delicious.  The average is around 1,000 yen.  That includes mini salad and a drink.


Come out to north exit of Shimokitazawa station.
Take a right.  That is the corner of Mizuho Bank .  Pass by the bank, go straight.
You will see Florist Hanahiro on your left, then Yokohama Bank.  Keep going.

Drug store Tomod's will be on your left.  Turn right immediately after that.
Cafe Normale will be on your left in 10 seconds.


Hospice --- Eating Your Favorite Food before Dying

I just saw interesting TV program on NHK tonight.

What is your favorite food?  What is your memory on that food?

The program was introducing a new approach to the very last days of the dying who is suffering from terminal illness.

I realized again how important food is in our lives.

It is something we gain nutrition, but more than that.... it is something that gives us mental energy to get going and make us happy.

Several patients were introduced.  One gentleman requested mackerel sushi.  The hospital prepares these requested meals within a day..... to meet their deadline....literally deadline.....try to make them eat it before it is too late.

This Mr. A couldn't eat enough when he was young..... it was right after the war.
There weren't enough food for ordinary people.  He kept working, still the life wasn't easy.  In the tough life, mackerel sushi was something he could afford and enjoy.  He often ate it..... then became his favorite.  There were 4 pieces.... he says, " I didn't think I could eat them all..... but I did! "

Another couple..... the husband is dying..... he cannot eat much, but he requested Sukiyaki.  The hospital prepared Sukiyaki for two people in hotel like setting..... it looks like a tatami room ( Japanese style ) and Japanese inn.

The couple enjoyed Sukiyaki dinner, although the husband couldn't eat much.
His wife apologized " Sorry, I've kept eating.... while you cannot eat much." The husband says " Don't worry.  Eat, eat!  Eat well. "  He died shortly after that.  Their last shot of eating Sukiyaki is heartwarming.  Both smiling.


KAISO ---- Bakery in Shimokitazawa ( Chazawa Street )

You can eat here, there are a small table, but mainly, this is the place to shop and take them out.    This tiny, a retro shop across from Bamiyan  ( franchised Chinese restaurant) is my new finding.

It has the nostalgia for good old days..... a mini bench, a mini table and two small chairs.

Their bread tastes rich, not butter rich, but you can feel their time consuming, careful preparation on your tongue.

Yummmmm.  It is a 7 min. walk from the station.
Exit south, walk through between McDonald's and game centers, shops...... keep on walking.  When you hit Chazawa Street ( meaning the road connecting Sangenjaya and Shimokitazawa ) , turn right.  Stay on the road.  You will find Bamiyan on your left and soon, the shop will be on your right.


Benham no Koma, Shimokitazawa --- Wine Bar or 2nd shop of Jukuseishitsu

Do you know Benham's Top?  I just came back from Benham's Top.
Benham's Top, Shimokitazawa

There are so many bars on Ichibangai lately.... or 1st Avenue of Shimokitazawa.

Unfortunately, I just had an urge of having a few glasses of wine after work and went over there, so didn't have smart phone or camera......( I grabbed my wallet and walked over..... 3 min. walk )  

Next time, I will take some pics and show you.

Small, cozy bar ran by two women....the shop has only several counter seats and a few more by the wall.

Flavor cheese, crackers ( buckwheat, cilantro, plain etc... ) etc.....

Good wines...... I had two glasses of Richaurd someone...  ( organic wine.... from Cotes due Rhone ) and flavored cheese with crackers.

Cozy.... so relaxing.  I met a nice woman who is an editor.  I enjoy this kind of encounter.... I've been in content business and handling language, so there was something common we could share..... she loves eating, drinking.

We exchanged business cards and I hope we can get together at Benham's Top again.

Why they named this place " Benham's Top"?  They hope.... depending on the situation or the person, the shop looks different or the shop can be flexible to meet the expectation.

Will try to take a pic next time.  I promise.


Happy for Friends' Wedding. Enjoyed celebrating their Tying the Knot.

Cakes, Mousse and More
Center Flower & Food

Friends' Wedding @ Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi

Buffet @ Grand Hyatt
April 22 already.  In Tokyo, it was warm once and I was about to enjoy the spring weather, then it turned back to cold winter weather again.

It was so cold yesterday, so I couldn't wear the dress I planned for this wedding.

Forced to wear something plain, I wore a brownish golden scarf over the shoulder to add something festive and glam up.

It seems like they mulled it over and came to the decision to hold festive, yet progressive style party.

I've been invited to.... countless weddings, yet this was the first time to attend this friendly, buffet wedding @ five star hotel.  ( Yes, I 've attended casual buffet wedding reception at restaurants)

They are in 40s and they tried to make it simple, share their joy with their friends and show the appreciation to the friends.  Very nice and how can I explain the style they chose ?  Very 40s or mature.

Shrimp cocktail, roasted pork, grilled peppers..... everything was good.
And the dessert!    Will show you a few more pics.


Irish Stew w/ Irish Mashed Potato, Guiness

For 2013's St. Patrick's Day

Off Today.....

I wanted to upload some pic which I cooked last night for St. Patrick's Day.
Somehow, this web doesn't synchronize with my mobile today, so let me do it later.

I am not Irish, yet I enjoy wearing something green and eat and drink Irish thing.
Yes, I cooked Irish stew ( hard to buy block lamb meat here, so instead, I used beef) and had Guiness.

Nice Monday, which I set lately as day off.  Phew.  I can hear gusty winds are blowing outside, yet it doen't bother me when I am enjoying my private reading time.

My hay fever is getting better although I still need to take medication twice a day.

There are piles of books in my place still, which I don't mind, yet cannot finish reading them ever.   I keep buying and they keep coming in from some friends.

I just learned new word " Chick Lit " genre.  Apparently, working women's light, comedy novel is called like this.  i.e.) " Bridget Jone's Diary" series.

Am reading Jenny Colgan's " Talking o Addison" which I got from a friend of mine who lives close here.   She works for publisher/ major bookstore company and funny thing is sometimes I open the entrance and find a pile of books or paper bag filled with books.... thanks to her though.  I love reading.  Yes, they are English books, I mean books written in English ( mainly American English, some are British English :-) j

Jenny Colgan's is British one.....just like Bridget Jone's.

Well, let me save some energy today and will be ready to go on tomorrow again.


Shibuya Station, Toyoko Line

Shibuya Terminal on Toyoko Line
March 14, 2013
It's amazing..... the technology of Japanese railroads, this can be exported to overseas.

They change station overnight...... I took this photo on March 14.  Last night, meaning March 15, they changed and moved this station to the basement...... I have to go check and see how they look now.

Toyoko Line is now connected with Shin Fukutoshin Line.... meaning people living on Toyoko line can go onto Shin Fukutoshin Line with ease.....this connection makes it easy for people to visit Shinjuku , Ikebukuro area.....

The amazing part is Japanese railroads do not close the station for these kind of big change.  They prepare new station and connection and then overnight, they open the new station... just like " Ta-Dah!".

Next weekend is my area...... not a new connection, but Shimokitazawa station will be moved to the basement, so as next stations....Higashi Kitazawa and Shin Daita.

This will make Odakyu Line of this area quadruple track and railroad crossings will be gone.... no more waiting ... no more accidents.

White Day

It's been a while since I wrote last time.   Apology for long silence.

I've been busy..... and then hay fever.  This year's cedar pollen is terrible.. 5 or 6 times of average year, I heard.

Anyways, have you heard of White Day?  On Valentine's day, you give chocolates to your love, husband, friends.

White day is the day those people give you something sweets in return.

I didn't give these people anything...... these are the mothers who I am teaching..... their daughters used to be my students, yet for them, coming all the way to my area is such a burden.....yes, mothers have to take two trains with them.

I suggested them to take local lessons so that they can be exposed to English more often and with less burden.  In order to avoid hurting children's feelings, mothers and I decided to have a meeting.  I visited their places and explained the situation to those children.   Thanks to nice mothers, they gave me these sweets.

The bigger box has cookies, baked sweets etc.  The small square box has so called " Guimauve", which is French..... similar to marshmallow, but guimauve uses fruit juice and texture is moist.

Currently, 50% or more of my work is teaching.   I had never thought that I would teach English to people, yet this is such a learning opportunity.  I learn a lot from students, people and get pleasant reward... I don't mean these sweets or materialistic reward, yet pleasure to learn, teach and see the happy faces of people, growth of children, adults, etc...etc......


Simple Tomato Bread --- Bruschetta

Tomato Bread --Bruschetta
This bread is regular toast, so not real Italian.

Thank you for checking my blog as always....lately, I haven't written much.

My procrastination excuses are work, new study, etc.....  One excuse is I started taking a course on Coursera, which you probably know.  On-line free education service.

I registered myself on business program.  Everyday, there is one short video course I study and mini quiz.    There are some nutrition, food related courses, so I might take some of them in the future.

Yesterday, I didn't have much time to cook or much appetite......I'm fine.  I was excited to try new venture and wanted to have light meal.  Made this quick lunch.

A ripe, medium sized tomato / two table spoons of olive oil / salt / one tea spoon of dried basil ( of course, if you have fresh, use it!) / toasted bread

1.  First, toast a slice of bread for 3, 4 min.
2.  Chop the tomato, put it into a bowl.  Add salt, basil an then olive oil.  Stir well.
3.  Paste the seasoned tomato ( 2) on the bread.  Toast it again for another 3, 4 min.


Meet Ups...... Some Place You Meet New People

Shimokitazawa International Meetup

I just realized I haven't mentioned this here before.  I' ve learned about this " meetup" thing from a friend of Silicon Valley.

That was last fall, I guess.  Then I presided a lunch gathering.  This time, I am organizing dinner ( and drinking ) meet up in February.

It was great experience.  I should attend other meet ups, but with this Internet tool, you can meet these new people you could not imagine before.

Luckily, all the people who came to this lunch was wonderful and I enjoyed meeting all these people.  Nice chatting, good laugh......

It is difficult to set the date regularly, once you create your platform, easy to start.

I'm already thrilled and cannot wait for my next event.


Papabubble Candy ---- Tokyo has two shops.

Papabubble candy.   I got from a friend the other day.


Colorful candy has letters such as happy 2013.

Very cute and entertaining.

Originally from Spain.  Does your city have this shop?


Tokyo's Long Lines........

Long Line Waiting for Eggs'n' Things
I had a lunch appointment on Friday.

We decided to have late lunch @ bills, Omotesando.

bills ' website

It's popular, I knew.... still....I thought we could get seats.... we couldn't.

They do not take reservations during lunchtime, so I went over there a bit early.  Around 12:10.

The waitress came to me and said with smile.
"  I'm sorry.  The next available table will be around 3:45 p.m." !!!
Yes, when I called they said " probably you will have to wait for 90 min. or so."
It was three more hours when I got there.... sigh.  We gave it up and had lunch some other place.  The Portuguese dishes were good enough.

For your information, nearby bills, there is another popular pancake place, " eggs'n' things " from Hawaii.  That place also has long, long lines......

It is probably quicker to fly to Hawaii....... yeah, I want to get in there when there is no line, but while waiting, it's faster to try their Hawaiian shop.  LOL.


Happy New Year To You All ! Jan.1, 2013

January 1, 2013
Wishing you a happy, peaceful, successful 2013!

As usual, the boxed osechi, new year's feast is shown here.

Additionally, the soup bowl is sitting on the tray, which is also typical Japanese new year's dish, ozoni with vegetables and rice cake.

Bottom right is roast beef slices.  No reason, but wanted to have beef.  Just followed my intuition.

The golden yellow drink sitting top left on the tray is otoso..... herb flavored sake for new year's celebration, which is supposed.
New Year's resolution?  I'm thinking about my life, business, health etc.etc...
Let me wish your happiness, health and wealth for the coming year.

Otoso ( or Toso )
Ozoni ( or Zoni)