It’s a condiment. It’s a health food. It’s black vinegar.

Japan is well known for borrowing ideas and technology from other countries and adapting them to something distinctly Japanese. Black vinegar is one such item. More than two centuries ago, the village of Fukuyama on the eastern shore of Kagoshima Bay began producing black vinegar using methods imported from China. Refined and developed over the … Continue reading It’s a condiment. It’s a health food. It’s black vinegar.

Japan’s Cutting Edge Cutlery

Anyone who's ever wandered into a kitchen knows how important a good knife is to food preparation. Arguably, Japanese kitchen knives, developed from Japan's long sword-making tradition, are the best in the world. Nenohi knives are among the most popular with professional chefs in Japan, even though the company is relatively young by Japanese standards, … Continue reading Japan’s Cutting Edge Cutlery

Takachiho Farm: fun hands-on experience of life on a farm

The Kirishima volcano system in Kagoshima Prefecture is fascinating for the variety of landscapes visitors can experience.  The flanks of some of the volcanoes are covered with grassland conducive to raising cattle.  Takachiho Farm is a kind of "show farm" within sight of Mt. Kirishima where visitors can see a working dairy and experience several … Continue reading Takachiho Farm: fun hands-on experience of life on a farm

How Sweet It Is! Making wasanbon tea sweets

The frothy whipped green tea served in traditional Japanese tea ceremony is strong and bitter.  But unlike Western style tea or coffee, one does not ever add sugar!  That is not to say that we completely ignore Mary Poppins' maxim. Rather, for over 400 years in Japan, whenever traditional tea ceremony tea is served, it … Continue reading How Sweet It Is! Making wasanbon tea sweets

Nori making: insights into a staple of Japanese cuisine

Nori, those paperlike sheets of dried seaweed, are popular in Japan as a tasty snack, as well as featuring in sushi and other famous Japanese dishes.  But the stuff doesn't grow on trees!  Or does it? Rows of dark rectangles in the water--telltale signs of seaweed farming are portrayed in Hiroshige woodblock prints of the … Continue reading Nori making: insights into a staple of Japanese cuisine

Noodling on Shikoku: lessons in traditional noodle making

Japanese people love their noodles.  Across the country, you can't visit any size community that doesn't have a ramen shop.  But ramen is a Chinese import.  There are lots of indigenous Japanese noodles, too.  On a recent trip to Shikoku, I not only encountered plenty of these noodles, I got to have lessons in how … Continue reading Noodling on Shikoku: lessons in traditional noodle making