Miso soup of the day: Kiriboshi-daikon, Chinese cabbage, shiitake mushroom & aburaage

Miso soup idea for winter cold days. 

Kiriboshi-daikon is dried strips of daikon radish. As it makes good broth and has unique, satisfying  texture, it is frequently used to make not only traditional Japanese dishes but also vegetarian dishes.

Slice all ingredients to the same size then it will look nice.

Trio: Three Wise Monkeys in Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Trio

When I saw the word “Trio,” this renowned relief of three wise monkeys – mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil) in Nikko Toshogu Shrine, the most decorative shrine in Japan with tremendous amount of carvings, came to mind. Until recently, I believed this saying and image were unique to Japan and didn’t know that its stories and artworks existed in many places all over the world.


Do they differ from the three monkeys in your country?

Kiyari & Hashigo-nori: Japanese traditional performance art

Today I would like to introduce you to one of the Japanese traditional performance arts called “Kiyari (song for carrying heavy logs)” and “Hashigo-nori (acrobatic performances on a ladder)”. These performances have been preserved and performed in many places of Japan. From the below link, you can watch a video that I took at a fire drill in Kawaguchi City, Saitama in Japan on November 22, 2015.

“Kiyari” meant to bring logs and stones, and those who worked on it sang songs called “Kiyari-uta”. In the Edo period (1603-1868), scaffolding builders who were dealing with fighting fires as well as construction works – because at that time, they stopped fires by breaking  down flammable wooden houses – came to hand down these songs together with “Hashigo-nori” and “Matoi-furi (moving a decorated pole – you can see it at the beginning of the video)”.

Hiroshige hikeshi.jpg
Hiroshige hikeshi” by 歌川広重 – 国立国会図書館 寄別7-1-2-4. Licensed under パブリック・ドメイン via Wikipedia.

Nowadays, they usually perform “Kiyari” on special occasions such as the New Year’s parade of fire brigades and topping out ceremonies.

Miso soup of the day: Romanesco bloccoli, potato, onion & soy milk

Romanesco broccoli was not really common in Japan until quite recently, but it has become available in the supermarkets.  A couple of days ago, I found it in the supermarket near my apartment and it was so cheap compared with other vegetables. Maybe not so many people try to buy them yet…

So I made an experimental miso soup again. I cut and boiled romanesco broccoli, onion and potato in the broth and added miso and soy milk. .. and it worked quite well!

…By the way, romanesco broccoli always reminds me of Buddha’s head.

Miso soup of the day: Mizuna & tofu

Mizuna (potherb mustard) – Now it’s available all over Japan at any time of the year, but was originally the local vegetables in the Kansai region in the cold season. Though it’s used as an ingredients in salads and hot pots quite often, it’s also suitable for miso soup.

This time I only added tofu besides mizuna, but aburaage also goes very well. In order to enjoy its crunchy texture, Be careful not to cook mizuna for long time.

Victory: Over My Old Self Who Quit Music

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Victory.”

“What my life would have been like if I had chosen a different path at that time?”

When I was 15 years old – the time to think about the future –  I had two choices. To major in English at university or to enroll in a music collage. I’d been learning to play the electronic organ since when I was in kindergarten. I didn’t like anything besides English and music, and I didn’t have enough courage to get a job immediately after graduation from high school. So they are the only choices I could think of at that time.

Finally I chose to study English and gave up going into music. There were two reasons. One was the advice from those who graduated from music schools. They said “if you have anything else besides music, you should follow that. If you concentrate on music, it will limit your potential.” Another reason was more convincing – lack of confidence in my musical ability. I knew some kids around my age who played like a genius at competitions.

Gradually I came to avoid playing musical instruments, especially keyboard instruments after I decided not to pursue a career in music. It was strange. I loved music so much, but my passion seemed totally vanished.

Time went by…and some years ago, my aunt suddenly gave me this shamisen, Japanese traditional musical instrument she bought about 30 years ago, saying “Now it’s yours. You should play it!” To be honest, I was not interested in it, but I heard a strong voice in my head “YES!” … And like Jim Carry’s “Yes Man”, accepting this beautiful instrument has brought a lot of things to me.

Soon after, I found a shamisen teacher and started learning it. And I found myself enjoying the music from the bottom of my heart. Now I don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes. I don’t have to compete with others. I don’t really care what the others would think of my sound. I’m not bothered with the idea of ‘what comes next if I do or don’t practice it’… I simply feel happy when I play this instrument and enjoy playing with others. In addition, I came to get interested in Japanese cultures and history. I came to study the local cultures around here as well. And interestingly, I also came to play the piano.

Perhaps I always wanted music but my old self didn’t allow it for a long time. I think I had a strong sense of inferiority about my musical ability. And I didn’t like my past self who couldn’t overcome it and quit music.

Thanks to this shamisen – or my aunt who has watched over me for years? -, I gained a victory over my past self. To be more accurate, I accepted and reconciled with it. Now I’m even thankful to my past self who was seriously studying music because my experiences really help me learn Japanese music as well.


Mukago-gohan (Japanese flavored rice with yam tubercles)

Mukago, yam tubercles – when I was a kid, I picked these tiny cute potatoes in the backyard and parks in autumn. I haven’t had them for years, but yesterday I found them at the market.

This mugako-gohan is simple yet comforting. Add 2 rice measuring cups (300g) of japonica rice, 10 cm of dried kelp, 100g mukago, 1 tsp of salt, 2 tbsp of sake. Then cook the same as plain rice.

Miso soup of the day: Chikuwabu, aburaage and daikon

Do you know ‘Chikuwabu’? It’s a Japanese food made from wheat. In this picture, something star-shaped is it. It’s frequently used as an ingredient for Oden. It’s imitating the shape of Chikuwa, a more common food made from fish. I learned recently that this food is only consumed in and around Tokyo.

Chikuwabu in miso soup tastes different! Try it if you have a chance to get it. Many ingredients go well with it, but I added aburaage (deep fried tofu) and daikon this time.

Tako-meshi (Japanese flavored rice with octopus)

This is one of ‘takikomi gohan’ (seasoned rice with vegetables / fish / meat) and a local dish in the Kinki region.

Add 2 rice measuring cups (300g) of japonica rice, 10 cm of dried kelp, 150g diced octopus (boiled), 1 slice of ginger, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of sake, 1 tbsp of mirin and water in a rice cooker or pot. Then cook the same as plain rice.

Hittsumi: Warm Local Dish of South Aomori & Iwate

My husband dined out last night, so I went to my parents’ place and cooked Hittsumi with my mom. This is a local dish in the sourthern part of Aomori and Iwate, the Tohoku region (northern part of mainland Japan). It’s one of my favorite recipes I learned when I lived in Aomori. I often helped local farmers and I often had Hittsumi with them after working on the farm – it tasted so special!


200-300g chicken thigh, 1/2 burdock root, 1/2 carrot, 3 shiitake mushrooms, 2 eddoes, 7-8cm daikon radish, cake flour or all-purpose flour, water, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 cup sake, 2tbsp mirin (adjust the amount of ingredients as you like)


  1. Make dough. Mix flour and water and knead it till become hardness of an earlobe. Leave the dough for about 0.5-1 hour.
  2. Cut chicken thigh and eddoes in dices and slice other vegetables.
  3. Cook water, chicken and vegetables in a pot. Add sake, mirin and soy sauce.
  4. Pull and tear the dough (“Hittsumi” comes from their dialect “Hittsumu” meaning pull and tear) and make flat oval pieces to add in the pod. Cook until the dough get soft enough.