Category Archives: Japan

Ganbatte Kudasai Nihon

(photo credit: my.opera.com)

Deeply saddened by the deaths and people who have been displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disaster, it is with a heavy heart that we are leaving Tokyo to return home to Singapore. We will forever cherish in our hearts the time spent with the locals who have shown us a tremendous amount of hospitality and grace throughout our travels.

As the new shoots of spring begin to show signs of new life, our wish for the Japanese people is that they too, will begin to slowly rebuild their lives with each new day.

We will continue to feature Tokyo in our next few posts, which we dedicate to the people of Japan.

Leaving you now with this beautifully written and meaningful article by Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times.

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Help rebuild Japan – Save the Children appeal

(photo credit NationNews.com)

As we continue to watch devastating footage of Friday’s catastrophic events and its deadly aftermath, we appeal for your thoughts to be with the Japanese people as they deal with this horrific national crisis. Over 10,000 people are estimated dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes. We urge you to contribute in a very tangible way by donating to the Save the Children foundation during this critical time. The team at Save the Children has already flown in to the disaster zones and are in the midst of providing relief to children (many who have been orphaned) and their families.

Save the Children aims to deliver food, shelter and psychosocial support to young people, helping them overcome the shock and stress that the disaster has left in its aftermath. They will set up child-friendly spaces to provide a protective environment where children can spend time with other children and trained teachers, allowing parents much-needed time to find food and shelter as well as locate other friends and family.

To read more on the Save the Children official press release and donate, click here

God bless Japan.

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Mashiko, Japan


for Michelle

We had the opportunity to meet an extremely talented local ceramic artist over the Lunar New Year period this year and she recommended that we visit the small village of Mashiko on our upcoming trip to Tokyo. Having a great interest (bordering on fetish) in Japanese ceramics, we were, of course, thrilled to hear about this thriving pottery town, some 100km north of Tokyo; the only thing that was standing in our way from jumping on the first train to Mashiko, was the journey. Continue reading

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Earthquake in Japan

Dear Readers & Friends,

Thank you for all your thoughts and concern, we are safe in Tokyo (though very freaked out). Tremors are a lot less frequent now as compared to this afternoon’s scare – buildings were literally swaying and creaking and things flying everywhere. Even the tiles from our apartment were ripped off.

Our thoughts are with the people in Sendai as relief efforts are underway. Will update again soon.

D & P
xxx

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Shinjuku Tatsukichi, Tokyo

(from L to R, clockwise: Asparagus with black pepper mayo, baby turnip, cook, dipping sauces, prawn, ochazuke, vinegared mekabu seaweed – palate cleanser, cute ornament, quail’s egg, salmon and cheese)

Here’s a neat little place if you love deep-fried food. We don’t particularly, but were highly recommended to try by an esteemed chef and we just couldn’t resist. The best thing about this restaurant, tucked away in the ultra busy and happening Shinjuku district, is that you don’t have to worry about ordering – it just comes, one deep-fried skewer after another, omakase style. As the cook behind the counter lays each freshly fried skewer on your plate, he’ll name it and suggest whether to dip your kushiage in one of the 4 sauces or truffle salt, drizzle lemon, or simply “sono mama” (as it is). Just lightly battered and fried, the kushi’s were very tasty.

Personally though, we prefer oil to be used sparingly on our food. As yummy as they were, we thought it wise to exercise some self-restraint and politely requested to call it a night at 26 sticks between the 2 of us (each at ¥170). Both tables beside us chalked up no less than 30 sticks per head (the record is a whopping 160 sticks by one very greedy man it seems!).

Don’t miss Tatsukichi if you’re looking for an excellent kushiage meal and a very memorable dining experience.

Shinjuku Tatsukichi

4F, 3-34-16 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku | 03-3341-9322

Open Mon-Fri 5-11pm, Sat 4-11pm, Sun-holidays 4-10:30pm

http://www.shinjuku-tatsukichi.com

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Aronia De Takazawa, Tokyo

We’ve waited a whole year and four months for this moment. Since our life altering dining experience at Aronia de Takazawa in November 2009, we’ve been desperate to return. You never forget your first.

In so many ways, our first meal with Chef Yoshiaki Takazawa was an awakening. Our five, no six senses were pushed beyond their boundaries and any assumptions on how and what food should taste and look were completely erased. It was an experience etched in our memory as the defining moment of coming face to face with a culinary virtuoso.

Last Saturday evening, as we pushed open the steel doors and made our way up the stairs to the dining area, everything felt strangely familiar and comforting. Akiko-san, Chef Takazawa’s wife who runs the front of house operations, greeted us emphatically as we came into view – ‘welcome back’, she gushed. We refrained from throwing our arms around her, short of sobbing how good it felt to be back. But it did feel that good to be back. Continue reading

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Neighbourhood crawl: Azabu Juban, Tokyo

We’ve been lovin’ Azabu Juban since we arrived in Tokyo for two reasons. One, it’s close to where we are; only a 15 minute walk from our apartment or 1 stop away by subway on the Namboku Line; and two, it has an understated sophisticated neighbourhood charm which evokes a sense of traditional tranquility, despite being only 10 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of it’s better known and rather boisterous neighbour, Roppongi.

Azabu Juban is an attractive residential area for many expatriates as it is close to the Central Business District and located within the belt of foreign embassies (Embassy of Singapore included) and international schools. Our favourite area in this neighbourhood is the Azabu Juban Shopping District. The vibe is cosmopolitan yet understated, making it a relaxing oasis in which to catch up with friends or to simply spend some alone time. This district has a mix of cafes, restaurants and small food specialty stores lined up along a long shopping strip rendering navigation straightforward (pun fully intended). You can either walk eastwards from Roppongi (follow the signs to Azabu Juban from Roppongi Hills) or take the subway westwards directly to Azabu Juban itself. We recommend the latter, where Exit 4 will lead you directly to the shopping strip, just past The Darjeeling. Continue reading

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Bakuro, Ebisu, Tokyo

Before we begin, let us warn that this post contains some pictures that may be inappropriate for vegetarian readers (you know who you are). We have been anxious to try this unusual and exotic delicacy since hearing about it several years ago and have tried to hunt it down tirelessly on our last few visits to Japan without success. This time however, with much determination and some research, we were able to nail down Bakuro to quell our curiosity – for which we were glad. Continue reading

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Farmer’s Market at Ark Hills, Tokyo

Farmer's Market at Ark Hills

Every Saturday, we look forward to the Farmer’s Market near our apartment where we can pick up gorgeous strawberries and other seasonal fresh produce. There are also several food kiosks selling french breads, soups and the yummiest waffles ever!! Here are some snapshots from today’s market.

Hills Marche Farmer’s Market (at Ark Hills)

Every Saturday 10am – 2pm

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Neighbourhood crawl: Ueno Park, Tokyo

Kiddies on the way to Ueno Zoo

Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s most popular destinations for families and tourists to visit and it’s not hard to see why – there’s a place for everyone, young or old. Apart from being Japan’s largest city park, Ueno Park is home to some of Japan’s top museums, including The Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum (with an enormous life size replica of a sperm whale displayed at the entrance), making it a sheer delight for culture vultures. Also within the park is the renowned Ueno Zoo, several temples and religious shrines. The park’s central pathway is lined with over 1200 cherry trees, and come April this year when cherry blossoms are in bloom, thousands of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties are expected to be held to celebrate the annual spectacle. Continue reading

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