As long as we’ve kept track of time, the day on which we reset the calendar has been celebrated as an occasion for reflection, for mental, physical, and spiritual renewal. Hemp fibers twisted into rope figures adorn the entryways to purify and protect the home. Inside decorations made of rice and boughs and bamboo, each with a meaning tied to agricultural rituals that pray for providence and abundance, are set out for display.
Drawing back a clump of desiccated fronds, I find an emerald trumpet of delicate leaves cradling a cluster of quilted button like buds. I raise the dirty, wet stem to my nose and drink in the earthy, pungent aroma of spring breaking from winter. This is fukinoto.
There is perhaps nothing more simple and divine at the Japanese table than a pristine bowl of snow white shinmai, new rice, to close an autumn meal. Like the wafer at mass, newly harvested rice speaks to the Japanese soul of the divine, of things both eternal and ephemeral.
The sakura will bloom again next year. These were the words the mayor of Tokyo used to urge people not to congregate in revelry under full blooming cherry trees in parks over this past weekend. It was part of a plea to the residents of her city to stay home and avoid all non-essential outings […]
My father-in-law Takashi has very specific (and very good) taste in food. He is what his family members call urusai when it comes to flavor, a word that can mean noisy or fussy. He isn’t fussy in the I don’t like this or that kind of food, way but rather in the I don’t eat […]
I’ve been foraging sansai, mountain vegetables, all these many years that I’ve lived in Japan and I find it no less exciting for the repetition. In fact it’s thrilling, this stretch from February to May, following the micro seasons of wild mountain edibles from fukinoto (butterbur buds) to tsukushi (horsetail) to warabi (bracken ferns) to […]
Fukinoto season came so early this year. The new year had barely dawned and we were already harvesting. Now they are already on their way out and today we ate freshly foraged fukinoto for what is likely the last time. After a weekend that felt like a preview to summer I had a feeling the […]
This month marks a dozen years since I came to Japan. A full cycle of the Chinese zodiac has passed and a new decade begins. I’m inclined to consider it an auspicious moment and a good time for reflection. I still remember those first months vividly, that feeling of being thoroughly lost in a foreign […]
Japanese cuisine celebrates hazawari, the texture or literally tooth-feel of foods, to which the language is full of words to describe the textural aspect of flavor. Most are onomatopoetic, sounds that simulate physical sensations and the feelings they evoke. It speaks volumes to the sensual aspect of eating and to how wholly immersed and attentive […]
As long as we’ve kept track of time, the day on which we reset the calendar has been celebrated as an occasion for reflection, for mental, physical, and spiritual renewal. Hemp fibers twisted into rope figures adorn the entryways to purify and protect the home. Inside decorations made of rice and boughs and bamboo, each […]
When you marry into a family, you marry into their food. Perhaps my case is extreme having relocated to a far flung country with a cuisine most divergent from mine. But no matter who we partner with, there are just some dishes that come along with them, ones that seem to bring comfort in a […]
Chickadees flit from perch to perch. They are a cheerful bunch, gray-winged little birds of winter with black caps and beards. I remember them fondly, their whistling chatter constant and merry throughout the long snowy months of my childhood in Vermont. It’s comforting to see them outside my window here too. The days have grown […]
The almanac tells us that it is the season of first winter. Far north in Hokkaido where the seasonal divisions are more pronounced like in New England, first flurries must be falling fast. But here the songbirds still chirp on days warm enough to dry our laundry outside. But signs of winter are creeping in. […]
Follow along for a visual feast at the seasonal table and be the first to know about new adventures and workshops. #epicureanideals #mirukashi