Love in the Time of Coronavirus… or The Quiet Ryokan

Twenty five days ago I wrote a blog about our impending trip to Japan. It feels like a year ago. Needless to say our plans have been completely disbanded and even if we wanted to leave the country, we could not. I am somewhat relieved we were not stuck in a difficult situation of being…

Kansai Style Sukiyaki Don Recipe

This sukiyaki don is another staple meal in our house. Don is short for donburi which simply indicates it is a meat, fish or vegetable dish served over rice, in one bowl. It is super easy, super, super quick and very delicious. It is a couple of minutes of preparation and then very quick to…

Uniquely Japanese- Kodawari こだわり

Google translate translates kodawari as meaning commitment, but this simple translation certainly lacks understanding of the nuance of the word. Kodawari is an uncompromising and relentless pursuit of perfection. In craftsmanship, in skill, in creativity, in the everyday. This is an attribute you can witness in every aspect of life in Japan. One that can…

Travel and the Coronavirus

As a young person, probably in my late teens, I became somewhat obsessed with epidemiology and read voraciously about viruses, the CDC and Ebola, in particular. The Hot Zone, Virus X and The Coming Plague still sit on the shelf in our study. I feel like I have been waiting for the Coronavirus, without knowing…

Uniquely Japanese- Gochisousamadesu ご馳走様です

When people finish eating in Japan they will usually say ご馳走様です(gochisousamadesu) or ご馳走様でした (gochisousamadeshita) as a way of saying thank you for the food. Like itadakimasu, (read about that here) this saying is a way of showing gratitude to all involved in the preparation of your meal. Again, the farmers, fisherman and so forth. The kanji…

Uniquely Japanese- Itadakimasu 頂きます

Anywhere you are in Japan, at any meal, with any person, you will hear them clap their hands together and say itadakimasu 頂きます which translates, roughly, to “I humbly receive” before they begin eating. This is such an ingrained aspect of their culture that you will see people do it even when alone. These days…

Geisha, Oiran and Tayu. Misunderstood Women of Japan.

The mere mention of Japan will probably conjure many pervasive Japanese images in your mind, and undoubtably, geisha will probably be among those images. However, for most foreign people the concept of geisha is difficult to understand and many people are misinformed as to their cultural significance, the role they played, and still play, and…

Yurei, Bakemono, Yokai and other Japanese Horror Stories

I am not a huge fan of horror movies, although I was an avid reader of horror when I was younger. The last horror story I read was Ring by Koji Suzuki (1998). It was terrifying, in a very subtle, psychological way. I have recently been watching The Terror: Infamy by AMC on Amazon Prime….

Onna-bugeisha…female Samurai

“Samurai” usually brings forth a vision of a guy in traditional Japanese feudal armour with several swords and a scary disposition. While many samurai were certainly great warriors and warlords, the term actually refers to a class of people in Japan, which, of course, includes women. The bushi class in feudal Japan were the highest…

Chotto Motto, a little more…..

Walking through the door at Chotto Motto is like stepping through a time tunnel. An incredible space that looks like it is straight out of Tokyo in the Showa Era, maybe circa 1975? There is Ultra-man, Godzilla and retro pop-culture everywhere you look. So many Peko-chan and Anpanman, a haven for lovers of Japanese collectables….

Sake Qualified

Back in May I wrote a blog about Super Sake Boy and I taking the WSET Level 3 Award in Sake course and examination. You can read the blog here. At the time we knew we would have to wait eight to ten weeks to receive our results. It occurred to me when I re-read…

Tamura Sake Bar- A Haven in Fitzroy

Earlier this year, a wonderful little bar opened near the top end of Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. Dark and mysterious, but cleverly illuminated with a welcoming glow from inside, Tamura Sake Bar has all the wonderful things a sake bar in Japan has, namely great sake, great food and wonderfully generous hospitality, here in Melbourne….