Three Years Ago, Seven Flavors (三年前に、七味)

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Just over three years ago, I was sitting in a frigid living room in central Japan, pondering the prospect of starting a blog (and struggling to find a fitting name for said blog). Six weeks into my new life there, the pace of discovery had been both exhausting and exhilarating. In that span of time, I had marveled at urban farms abutting highway exit ramps, transmission lines cutting through graveyards, utterly peculiar English signage, fanciful mash-ups of Western and Japanese architecture in Hakodate and Matsumoto, breathtaking rural scenery, and small slices of mundane beauty at every turn.

Yet what fascinated me most — and continues to hold me in thrall — was Japanese food. Everything, from the hearty rice bowls served at highway rest stops to deceptively simple soups, was prepared and served with a level of craftsmanship that is, I suspect, difficult to find anywhere else in the world. Despite Japan’s reputation for punishing work schedules and a general obsession with timeliness, there are places where the heartbeat of the culture slows just enough to remind you that time and our perception of its passage is entirely mutable. Food made with the degree of care lavished on it in Japan has a similar effect, momentarily expanding the relentless flood of minutes and seconds into hours. Although three years have flown by, there’s still a lot more to discover. I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

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Black shichimi (黒七味), yuzu shichimi (柚子七味), and plain shichimi (七味唐辛子).