The iconicnigirshi sushi, with its simple slice of fish nestled atop a ball of rice, andmakizushi,rolls of ingredients wrapped up in rice andnoriseaweed, are fairly common nowadays, but those two styles of sushi don’t capture the full range of preparations and styles of sushi in Japan.

In the heart of the Tanazawa and Hakodate mountain ranges there grows a special, full-bodied variety of tea. This tea is as good for quenching your thirst as it is for warming your soul, and is cultivated by the skilled hands of local farmers and artisans. Synonymous across Japan with taste and aroma, this tea is Ashigara-cha.

With 150 years of history and an origin story directly connected to Odawara castle in Kanagawa, Chinriu Honten is in its fifth generation of the Komine family and specializes in producing condiments, pickles, and sweets usingume(Japanese plums),akajiso(red perilla), andsakura(cherry blossoms). By maintaining traditional artisanal techniques that forgo the use of unnecessary enhancers and additives, Chinriu is dedicated to crafting natural products that introduce the tastes of traditional Japan to the world.

TAC21—short for Tender, Active, Communicating for the Earth 21st Century—got their humble beginnings in a 26 square meter shop in Setagaya, Tokyo in 1970. With over 2000 items stocking their shelves, TAC21 aimed to be a place where health-conscious, environmentally-minded people who were interested in delicious food could obtain products and information.

Following last year’s unique opportunity to speak with Tetsutaro Iwai, CEO of Iwai’s Sesame Oil - the man who "can't stop talking about sesame seeds!” - we decided to visit Iwai's sesame seed museum in Yokohama where you can learn everything about sesame seeds: starting from the traditional methods and tools for making sesame oil.

The history of modern-day sushi is thought to date back to the Edo period of Japan when there were few methods of preserving the fresh fish that came in from the Edo Bay, or modern Tokyo Bay, each day.

Sushi has become one of Japan’s more famous culinary exports that has influenced cuisine the world over. It is now so ubiquitous that it can be found packaged and sold at convenience stores and supermarkets. Here is a list of some of the most popular toppings, orneta,used in sushi:

Rich, salty, creamy, savory, smooth, and addicting. When it comes to ramen, it’s easy to see why so many people have embraced the dish across the world. Consisting of a steaming, fragrant broth holding a tangle of noodles and a heap of toppings nestled over it all, ramen is young enough in the culinary world, at least compared to other traditions in Japanese cuisine, to still be growing and the flexibility of the broth, tare, noodles, and toppings. make it perfect for innovation.

After a day of eating and bento making in Kamakura, delicious quick bites, and picking up some local souvenirs, here are sites to see while in Kamakura.

After a day of eating and bento making in Kamakura, delicious quick bites, and visiting sites, here are some local souvenirs to pick up while in Kamakura.
After a day of eating and bento making in Kamakura, visiting sites, and picking up souvenirs, here are some delicious quick bites to enjoy while in Kamakura.
Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura is a historic coastal town only an hour away from Tokyo. Known for its well-preserved historical buildings, the ancient city attracts an average of 20 million visitors annually from Japan and abroad. In recent years, it has become a destination for young people and families to escape from the crowded city of Tokyo and to relocate to a mid-sized town with abundant nature within walking distance from the city center. 

Kanagawa, the seaside prefecture located just south of Tokyo, is known for its wealth of history, culture, and cuisine. It is home to Yokohama, Japan’s second most populous city and the prefecture’s capital, the historical hub of Kamakura and the hot springs of Hakone. With some of Japan’s oldest port cities open to foreign trade, the region’s cuisine and culture boast influences from around the world, ranging from China to Europe to the West, along with its own unique historical traditions. 

Famous for its local produce, seafood, and beef, Kanagawa is a food-lover’s paradise. From the Chinese inspired food of cities like Yokohama and Kawasaki, to the regional specialties of cities like Odawara and Misaki, here are some of Kanagawa’s most famous foods and the cities they come from:

The decision to commit one’s life to a specific profession is both honorable and important, and this can be seen clearly in the years of training it takes to become a sushi chef in Japan.

When you begin to venture deeper into the world ofwashoku(Japanese cuisine), however, you might want to expand from the basics ofany kitchen and into the essentials of a Japanese kitchen.

MSG, monosodium glutamate. Most of us are probably aware of it and have some associations tied to it. MSG is a food additive meant to boost theumami of a dish and is known asaji-no-moto in Japan. For those of us who prefer to avoid food additives wherever possible (and note that all our products at Kokoro Care Package are chemical and MSG-free), here are a few common products that may contain hidden MSG we should keep an eye out for.

From expressing one’s mood to describing the way something sounds, there exists a seemingly never-ending list of onomatopoeias (words that phonetically resemble the word that it describes) in the Japanese language. They act as adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, filling a void we have in English in an almost intuitive and natural way.

Being vegan anywhere in the world presents its challenges, but for the most part, the lifestyle has become fairly accessible in the Western world. When looking to Japan, however, things can get a little tricky. While larger cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto have plenty of vegan options, that isn’t necessarily so elsewhere. But fear not! Japanese cuisine traditionally focuses heavily on many key ingredients found in a vegan diet, namely vegetables, mushrooms, rice, soy, and noodles. So, when looking to be vegan in Japan, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Along with having the right ingredients, using the proper tools when cooking Japanese food can be a big help. Here are six essential kitchen toolsyou're sure to find in every Japanese kitchen. 

With centuries’ old history rooted in the forges of swordsmiths, Japanese knives are revered around the world not only for the craftsmanship, but also the shapes and styles of blades available.

With over 40 varieties produced domestically, the number of citrus fruits cultivated in Japan is staggering, with certain regions renowned for their citrus production. In Japan this area is known as thesetonaikai, the area surrounding the Seto Inland Sea. It consists of parts of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and the coasts of southwestern Honshū where the climate is perfect for citrus cultivation. Here are some of the most popular and interesting citrus fruits in Japan.

Looking like a rougher, more dimpled cousin to the lemon,yuzu is a small yellow fruit about the size of a regular orange that has a taste somewhere between a grapefruit and a mandarin; tart with a hint of sweetness. Its thick skin, which is usually mottled with the bumps and divots, holds the rich oils that makeyuzu so aromatic and fragrant.

Although it may be known for its namesake soup, misois an umami-rich ingredient that has a place in anything from stews to salad dressings. It has a deep, savory flavor with a fermented salty-sweet tang that can act as a base for any dish.

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