It’s All “Cho-co”

This season you can find sushi, beer, curry, green tea, shochu, and baseball in their chocolate incarnations.

A variety of Japan’s tastes and trends are made into “cho-co” versions for the Valentines Day boom.

Check the label on your favorite beer, curry or sushi package before purchasing to make sure if it’s the ‘real’ thing or the chocolate version!

beer chocolate

Curry Chocolate

If you hear this music playing in the background at the shop, you’re most probably looking at the cho-co.

Crush, crush I’ve got a crush on you,

Sweet, sweet I’ve got a thing for you.

Boom, boom my heart is beating for you…

You know I can’t stop Love.*

*(lyrics and photos from the “LOFT” Valentines Day display)


Aikawarazu Life in Japan

The Incredible Edible Lotus Root

There is a commercial I would like to see, or even an image flashed  in the middle of prime time news these days.

The image I would like to see is this:

the lotus flower

and then this:

The incredible edible lotus root
The incredible edible lotus root

And then a slogan, like this:

A Renkon (lotus root) a day keeps the Doctor away.

In this time of news about swine flu and ozone layer depletion, what can we do to lesson images of masks and injection needles and increase images of natural remedies from the earth that will help us tap into our energy and find ways to boost our immunities?

Drive away in this, the commercial might say, with some wheels painted on the lotus.

try out these wheels
try out these wheels

We are lucky to live in Japan, where you can buy renkon in most any produce section of a supermarket.  Did you know that the flower above is the same plant as the root pictured here?

The lotus root  is easy to cut and to cook.  You simply slice it, and peel off the outer skin and can cook it in a simple broth of soy sauce, mirin, and dashi (soup stock; powdered instant is ok, just sprinkle in a teaspoon).  The taste might surprise you. It’s crunchy and filling.

I want to make you hungry for renkon.*

*and other root vegetables too!

New commercial for The Big Mac Alternative
New commercial for The Big Mac Alternative

An informative link to lotus root can be found here:


Aikawarazu Life in Japan

White Tai-Yaki!

White Tai-Yaki
White Tai-Yaki

Down in the south of Japan, in Oita, white tai-yaki is BIG news.

Is this happening where you live?  New stands, stalls, and small shops are opening up all over advertising the sweet yet fishy phenomenon.

The traditional style tai-yaki are waffle-like golden brown  fish shaped treats filled with red or white bean paste.

The new white tai-yaki are made from tapioca and have a mochi-like consistency.

You can find white tai-yaki filled with anything from the traditional red beans to custard, chocolate, and even mentaiko.

The real fish eggs (mentaiko) inside of a fish-shaped sweet can be startling at first bite.  It is  an unusual gastronomic moment where the boundary between food types becomes blurred.   It is one of those inventive and rare juxtapositions of taste found only in Japan.

Make your own tai-yaki at home.



Merry Christmas from!

Today we celebrated Christmas in Japan with the traditional Christmas Cake!

It is a layered sponge cake covered with icing and real strawberries. It’s packed full of strawberries, too!

It also went well with the champagne!

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Attached are some photos of the cake and a few other images we thought might get you in the Tokyo Christmas Spirit!

Candy bags and Santa Boots are popular here in Japan. Once you eat all the candy in one of the boots, it’s supposed to be good luck, if you can dance around in them afterwards! Or so we were told…

Moving Down the Food Chain or Up

blue_goals_spot“How many of us can the world support?” It depends on what level of food consumption. Right now the world produces about 2 billion tons of grain per year. Diets heavy in livestock products like the U.S., which consumes about 800 kilograms per person annually could support only 2.5 billion people if the whole world took up the U.S. way of consumption. The Italians fair better at 400 kilograms per person annually. And at the 200 kilogram level consumed by the average Indian the world grain harvest could support 10 billion.

In every society where incomes raise, people move up the food chain. They eat more animal protein. Beef, pork, poultry, milk, eggs, and seafood are mixed at different levels depending on geography and culture, but the raise in more livestock laden diets appears to be universal with a raise in purchasing power.

The worlds grain production that feeds us and all this livestock must raise along with this trend as more nations become developed and nothing is done in the way of consumption.

But, there is something you can do. What do the Italians do that they consume about half as much as Americans? What sets them apart?

They consume most of their annual consumption per person directly as either pasta, bread, rice, or breakfast cereal. But in moderation.

And even better than that the Italians live longer, too! The average life expectancy in Italy is higher than in the U.S. It turns out that people living too high or too low on the food chain don’t live as long as those in the middle. The Indians could improve their health by consuming more animal protein.

Consuming a more Mediterranean type diet that includes meat, cheese, and seafood, but all in moderation is healthier for you.

So moving down the food chain can improve your health if you eat too much food from livestock while at the same time lowering your annual grain intake. Or, if you need to eat more animal protein it could improve your health.

Also moving down the food chain has many other positive benefits for the environment. Eating lower on the food chain means you consume less energy and water per kilogram of food you eat. Helping reduce energy consumption and pollution.

Modern agriculture depends heavily on the use of gasoline and diesel fuel in tractors for plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting. Irrigation pumps use diesel fuel, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity. Fertilizer production is also energy-intensive: the mining, manufacture, and international transport of phosphates and potash all depend on oil. Natural gas, however, is used to synthesize the basic ammonia building block in nitrogen fertilizers.

Moving down the food chain means less energy is need to produce the food you eat. A cow takes about twice as much energy to produce a kilogram of meat than that of a pig and about 6 times as much for fish and poultry. Fish is the less energy intensive with chicken coming in at a close second.

So with this in mind we will be including recipes and diet suggestions in this section to help you explore more what you can eat to help yourself live longer and save the impact you have on the environment at the same time.