A New Look

As of today, Shichimi has a new look — an autumn makeover, if you will.

Why?  I was frustrated with the old format. It was difficult to read and didn’t showcase photos particularly well. Hopefully, the new layout will make browsing and reading much easier on the eyes.

Please let me know what you think, and enjoy!

PS: I have many, many ideas for posts brewing at the moment. The only difficulty will be choosing which one to write about. Stay tuned…

Swelter

For the past few weeks, I’ve had an uncharacteristically low appetite. Some part of this is no doubt due to Japan’s notorious natsubate (summer fatigue), but I suspect it’s also because I know my time in Japan will soon come to an end. I’ve been here nearly two years now, a short time by most people’s standards, though it feels like an eternity. It has been an eternity, in some ways, considering all I’ve seen, learned, and discovered. Friendships have been made, while others have sadly faded. I’ve changed, too, in ways that may be difficult to comprehend for some of my friends and family back home. Some might wonder why I can’t accept a compliment without immediately waving it off, and others may find my habit of constantly nodding and bowing in conversation bit peculiar. To be sure, these mannerisms will fade with time, but there will be a rough period while I transition to life back in the States.

That’s still a few months away though. For now, I’m doing my best to soak up the remaining Japanese summer, and continuing to cook and eat this cuisine I have grown to love so much. In fact, summer is still very much with us here, much to my delight. Tomatoes, green beans, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers, edamame, cucumbers, peaches, melons, and plums are still in abundance, though some welcome newcomers — Asian pears, figs, baby kabocha squash, and tiny sweet potatoes — have also begun to appear at the market.

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Matsumoto Bon Bon

When you think of Japan, what are the first things that come to mind?  Politeness, sushi, Tokyo, temples, cleanliness, Mt. Fuji — yes, all accurate. But what about delicious street food, throngs of revelers, and costumed people singing and dancing in the streets for hours?  Not your image of Japan?  Let me explain…

It’s true that life in Japan is quite contained, both physically (in offices, trains, and tiny apartments) and psychologically (in a fairly rigid set of customs and hierarchies). In my experience, most raucousness occurs in the guise of office parties or gatherings at karaoke bars and smoky izakayas.

However, this all changes when the weather warms. Summer in Japan is the season of matsuri, or festivals. These can take many forms, from elaborate processions of portable shrines to gorgeous fireworks displays and taiko drumming performances. Sometimes, mountainsides are set on fire, as in Kyoto’s famous Gozan no Okuribi, and boats are hauled over long distances by festival participants, as in Suwa’s amazing O-fune (boat) matsuri. Japanese festivals are lively, ebullient, and often awe-inspiring events. As it happens, they’re also great places to eat.

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Chez Momo

Have you ever gone into a shop or restaurant and thought, “this is the sort of place I would like to own”?  If you’re anything like me, these sorts of entrepreneurial whims probably pop into your head all the time. Indeed, anyone with a favorite neighborhood coffee shop or bakery can probably relate to this statement. However, it’s rare to find a business that truly resonates with one’s own tastes. That’s the great yet tricky thing about small businesses – they’re so intensely personal, so reflective of their individual owner’s like and dislikes that they can sometimes seem like an exclusive club, their audience limited to a few devoted patrons.

Enter Chez Momo, the product of one couple’s devotion to French jams, impeccable coffee, crafts, and an uncompromising eye for detail.

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