Best Friends Forever

“Memories and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade.” ― Haruki Murakami

I had the most wonderful time last night. I only met Haruka and her family 2 months ago but even so, I feel I’ve known them a lifetime. To say that Haruka’s family treated me like a princess last night is an understatement. They really did so much.

They had prepared a delicious make-your-own sushi dinner featuring avocado (my favorite) and mixed rice (black and white) with ample vegetables. Everything was so healthy and presented so beautifully just for me. We drank homemade plum juice – made sugar-free after I introduced “natural” eating to Emika, H’s sister. For dessert, we had the most divine matcha (green tea) and soy-milk pudding made with kanten (a natural vegan gelatin substitute and a super  ingredient I’ll be hoping to do a Savvy article on). Again, Haruka had made the dessert this way (sugar-free and vegan) just for me.

Last but definitely not least, I was gifted two gorgeous earrings (one with my birthstone) and two bracelets all handmade by Haruka! And, Mommy Mo-chan (H’s mother) gifted me a cute red Japanese cloth for wrapping my lunch. Wow I felt like royalty. What a night. I left their home with a full stomach, a full heart and a full bag of left-overs for today’s lunch. Haruka, Emika, little Ichikia (E’s daughter and my 1st grade student), Mommy Mo-chan and Satozi (H’s father), I want you to know that I will always remember this night and that it will never fade from my heart.

PS the fourth picture is made with kanten too. It is an eggplant jelly flavorured with soy-sauce. Though I admitted to my friends it looked chotto kowai (a little scary) it was soooo yum!

Nara Photo Diary

Nara is that place in Japan where once wild but now tame Bambi roam.  Before Tokyo and Kyoto, Nara used to be the capital. This means two things: 1. the city is beautiful; many traditional buildings and ancient streets now home to artsy cafes and trendy stores to explore and 2. it’s a popular destination for school trips so you’ll be seeing/bumping into many (and I mean MANY) peeps in uniform. The prefecture’s mascot, Sento-kun is a funny looking half-deer, half-Buddha boy which, as you can imagine has offended many people. Hmmm what else? There are many shrines and temples but perhaps the most popular touristy attractions are Todaiji Temple (home of the big Buddha) and Nara Park (the deer home). As far as I understood, Nara isn’t famous for a specific type of food but you can find almost everything Japanesey (or shitty Italian) if you wish to.

I hope you enjoy my photo diary, taken and edited on my iPhone.
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spicy green tea soba salad

Constantly inspired by Japanese ingredients/slightly soba obsessed. I tried matcha soba (green tea soba) for the first time tonight and I loved it. This spicy salad is a great option for a healthy lunch or dinner.
1 eggplant, diced medium
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp olive oil

1 red capsicum, diced small
1 cucumber, diced small
4 spring onions, diced small
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup of edamame beans
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup of raw peanuts
salt and pepper to taste
Japanese seven spice to taste (or red chilli)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
strong squeeze of lime or lemon

1 packet of green tea soba

Cover the diced eggplant in 1tsp of olive oil and 1tsp garlic powder and bake in a toaster oven or sauté in a frying pan until cooked – sorry that was vague, you’ll be fine no one ever died of raw eggplant.

Chop all the raw veggies and mix with cooked eggplant and every other ingredient (minus soba)

Cook soba as per packet instructions, usually only 2-3 minutes in boiling water then drain and rinse

Mix soba through veggie mixture until all ingredients are combined well. Enjoy straightaway or refrigerate for later. YUM ’tis the best! #shamelessselfpromotion

a hot day in kyoto

I had the incredible opportunity to visit Kyoto for the first time today and all I can say is WOWZA. Kyoto was everything  (and more) that everyone said it would be. The historical city took my breath away (both literally and figuratively as it was fookin’ hot: 38 degrees!). First up, we visited the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji 金閣寺) in northern Kyoto Like, so picturesque that I had to take quadruple takes just to make sure it was actually there. Of course, my photo doesn’t do its beauty justice but hopefully it gives an idea. The entry fee was 400 yen about $5NZD and we basically just walked around and fought hard to take a decent picture amongst the gazillion tourists. And of course, no temple experience is compelte without a piece of paper predicting your unforseeable futue so I spent 100 yen and invested in a fortune which kindly promised me that “everything be okay” and it was/is. So, bless!
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Next Kiyomizu temple (400 yen) in eastern Kyoto- very orange. There are a lot of things to do here. I drank from the sacred Otowa waterfall from a ladle. Of it’s special effects, I’m yet to discover (watch this space). In addition, I stopped at the Jishu Shrine dedicated to Okuninushi, the deity of love and matchmaking – wink wink. To have luck in Love I was told (by a sign) was to walk SAFELY from one stone to another (6 meters apart) with my eyes closed. To make the journey entirely on my own was to guarantee me true love without anyone’s help. Alternatively, having someone guide me from one stone to the other meant that I’ll also be needing an intermediary when it FINALLY came to “the one”.  But, it’s actually much harder than it sounds, especially when there’s a billion waddling kimono wearing tourists present.  So, I accepted the help of my lovely friend which just means one of you (yes YOU!) needs to hurry up and introduce me to the lucky guy NOW!  Two additional comments: 1.Kiyomizu is the place to snap that stereotypical gelato in rome, I mean, kimono in Kyoto pic for your instagram account and 2.the streets around the temple have some of the most beautiful (but pricey) pottery I’ve seen in Japan so be prepared to spend some moolah.
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Lastly, we stopped at Sanjusangen-do (600 yen) and what a way to end! This place is home to 1001 standing statues of the Buddhist deity. Unfortunately, pictures weren’t allowed (insert very sad face here) so please proceed to Google images. Here, I lit incense and prayed for the success of my Novel – which I hope you will all invest in, in the near (heres hoping) future.
OH no! I almost left without mentioning food on my food blog! Matcha soft serve with gold flakes (at the golden temple, of course) and tofu at a tofu restaurant by Kiyomizu cos Kyoto rocks tofu – especially in Winter.