Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family



Day 9 Tokyo 2018: Yasukuni Shrine, Aoyama, Meiji Jingu, Za-Watami Dinner

My final full day in Tokyo was grey and dull with a chance of showers but still quite warm. That was not going to stop me making my usual last day visits to Yasukuni Jinja and Meiji Jingu.

First stop though was a coffee and muffin at Dean and Deluca under Yurakucho Station to get me going.

Coffee and muffin Dean and Deluca Yurakucho

I love seeing the ikebana displays at Yasukuni Jinja, they are always quite spectacular and seasonal, although hard to photograph through glass.

Yasukuni Jinja Ikebana Display
Yasukuni Jinja Ikebana Display

After paying my respects at the shrine, I wandered around to the koi pond behind the main shrine building. There is a vending machine to buy food for the huge koi that inhabit the pond. In front of the shrine there is always a letter from a soldier, printed in Japanese and English, they are a reminder that they were just men who were separated from their loved ones. Letters to mothers and wives are the hardest to read.

Yasukuni- jinja Haiden with Hinden behind
Pond Yasukuni Jinja
Koi feeding frenzy

Depending on the season you will often find floral competitions/displays at temples and shrines sometimes there are also plants being sold. I happened to be at Yasukni Jinja for an Iris display, so pretty and a shame I couldn’t buy bulbs to bring home.

Iris display Yasukuni Jinja

On my way out I walked behind the Irei no Izumi (Soul Comforting Spring) memorial dedicated to those who suffered or died from thirst during battle situations. At the rear of the sculpture are stones from various battlefields of WWII.

Irei no Izumi (Soul Comforting Spring)
Rear of Irei no Izumi

After walking through the huge steel Daiichi Torii I took a short walk to Kudanshita metro and hopped the train to Aoyama-itchome. This was not the station I needed to get out from but I ended up having a nice walk back to Aoyama/Omote-sando. Even discovered a little festival with food from different areas of Japan, I opted for a burger which featured regional pork and a glass of Japanese white wine.

Daiichi Tori
Festival Burger

After visiting the ceramics shop at the main intersection of Aoyama/Omote-sando for some Kenzan, I headed back across the road and up to Meiji-Jingu.

Walking in to the park is so refreshing in the heat. Wide paths lead around the park to the Shrine, up past the tributes of wine and sake through the Torii and on to the Shrine. They were still replacing the copper roof shingles which Mum and I saw part of in 2016. This was being done ahead of the 100 year anniversary of the dedication of Meiji-Jingu  in 2020.

Then it was back to the hotel for a quick rest and then on to dinner. As it was my last night I had a walk around Ginza and then checked out the restaurants under the tracks again. I found Za-Watami which looked interesting. Quite a large restaurant stretched out under the tracks, multiple dining areas with a selection of seating options.


I ended up being seated in a small bar area with two groups of ladies either side. The waiter poured sake for the ladies to my right, and he kept pouring, the glass over flowed in to a bowl that the glass was sitting in. I learnt that this is Sosogi-koboshi, there are many reasons for doing this, and the practice seems to have gained popularity after the WWII. Naturally I had to try it, bit difficult to drink and I have since learnt there are several ways to imbibe the generous pouring.

Sake done in Sosogi-koboshi pour

Thankfully the menu was in Japanese and English with handy photos as well. I was quite hungry and ordered, Blue Fin Tuna sashimi, chicken Kara-age, Lotus root and Burdock chips, chicken and leek skewers, gyoza. There were several things such as horse sashimi that had me doing a double take. But dear reader I ride horses I don’t eat them.  

Chicken karaage and blue fin tuna
Lotus root and burdock chips
Grilled chicken and leek skewers

After dinner a farewell stroll through Ginza before heading back to pack. Last night in Tokyo is always a sad night.

Day 8 Tokyo 2018: Tsukiji Market, Omiya and Shimbashi After Dark

The weather was a bit iffy in the morning and by the time I walked over to Tsukiji Market the heavens opened. With the heavy rain coming down I decided to keep my visit to the outer market. After wandering around I bought myself some new knives, a Yanagiba and a Deba. I also bought a super fine mesh skimmer,which had mesh finer than I could get at home.

Yanagiba and Deba from Aritsugu at Tsukiji Market

The rain cut my visit short so I dropped my purchases at the hotel before hopping the train out to Omiya.

I had planned on eating at my usual restaurant but when I entered  I thought I had gone to the wrong place. All the retro kitsch was gone and the lovely old people who ran it were nowhere to be seen. The new owners are a very pleasant couple of similar vintage to myself. Gone are the olive green banquettes and no more Karaoke. The place has been given a new life and a new name. I had my usual, Kari Raisu, served with a small salad with a cheese croquette, crumbed fish and miso soup. A small chocolate marquis and tea was also served.

Kari Raisu, cheese Korroke, miso soup
Chocolate marquise and tea

Then it was time to hit the second hand shop across the road. By now the rain had finished and blue sky was peeking through the clouds.

Note to self: big suitcase must be practically empty when departing Australia. You would think I would have learnt by now wouldn’t you. It was 13kg when I checked in at Sydney, but obviously I need to put less in it next time. Or fly Qantas over and JAL back( 2 x 20kg suitcase with JAL).

After a first walk through, I picked out a set of lacquered fan shaped serving plates, some fabric offcuts, two white and blue plates and two little chawan with lids. I paid for my purchases and then while waiting for them to be wrapped I spied a bronze vase with a frog on it. The body of the vase is matte and the frog has been polished, umm it sort of jumped in to my hands. I couldn’t pass it up. So that was a successful expedition, although I was hoping to buy a regular sized chawan or a mizusashi, I just couldn’t find any that spoke to me. Next time maybe.

Lacquer fan plates, Chawan, plates
Frog vase, bronze maybe?

Then back to the hotel again where I unloaded my goodies and headed out into unknown territory, the other side of Shimbashi Station.

I have only previously looked down from Platform 6 to the other side of Shimbashi, so this was a new adventure for me. The lights were all starting to come on as I arrived and people were starting to pour into bars, izakaya and restaurants as their week came to an end.

I strolled around ducking and weaving through the crowds taking photos here and there.

I found a whisky bar and headed up stairs to find 2 now rare bottles of whisky, The Hakushu and The Yamazaki 18 Year Old. At Y2400 per glass, the rarity factor was too good to pass up. I think I impressed the barman by ordering my whiskies straight with a glass of water on the side, of which I then put two drops in the whisky. Guess he was expecting me to go with onzarokku.

Moon Shine Whisky Bar
Yamazaki 18Year old
Interior, Moonshine Bar
Interior, Moonshine Bar

I decided to head back to the tracks and try my luck for some thing to eat. I found a great place downstairs, noisy, smoky and lots of activity.  Even though the menu had photos and I was happy to just pick and point they bought me an English menu.

I think I may have overdone it though. Pickled shallot, grilled chicken skewer with Ume paste, pork belly with negi, Mozzarella korroke, spicy chorizo skewer and karaage chicken. So much good food!! My drink of choice was plum wine with soda. A big glass came out which was quite surprising, I am used to a more genteel sized glass being served.

My mystery restaurant, no English name
Yakitori chicken skewer with ume paste and pork with negi
Mozzarella Korroke
Chorizo skewer
Chicken Kara age

With my hunger sated I waddled back out in to the night and the sad realisation that the next day would be my last full day in Tokyo, my Shiny town.

Tokyo Day 3 2018 Pt 1 – Failed Antique Market Attempt

Today I had planned to hit the Oedo Antique Market at Yoyogi Park. I am guessing they got a message about the weather that I didn’t and it was called off.

On a good note though there was an Okinawan Festival on. Lots of Okinawan food and beverages. 3 stages with music or chats, demonstrations etc. So I decided to hang around as I have long been fascinated by Okinawa.

Stage ready to go

My first exposure to Okinawa was “the Karate Kid II”. Sadly only small parts of that movie were actually filmed there.

On the main stage they were gearing up for performances and when the rope came down I grabbed a seat. Shortly after music started and so did the traditional drums. So loud but so exciting. I am a little embarrassed to say that I was so excited my eyes leaked a little(ok quite a bit, happy and excited remember). The big dog/lion even bit my leg as he danced past.

Those drums and the performance were totally amazing.

I watched about 45 minutes before the drizzle stepped up the pace and then I wandered around the food area, tried a citrus cocktail drink, refreshing, then went decided to give taco rice a try. Followed later by an Okinawan doughnut.

Then I had a walk through Yoyogi Koen. Some parts were like walking through a forest, and the rain made it more magical. Despite the location this park is so quiet. Apart from the crows, they seem to keep telling me the same thing…..hurry up and learn more Japanese.

Then a stroll down Omotesando back to Aoyama. So busy in spite of the rain, I only bothered with 3 shops the whole length of the street.

The rain had picked up I took that as a sign to head back to the hotel. I managed to get a table for dinner at TY Bis one of the restaurants in the hotel. Stay tuned for my dinner report in Part 2.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Tokyo Day 3 – Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture

A short trip back to Saitama prefecture saw me visit the town of Kawagoe. While there is the modern part of the town the best bit is the old town with many buildings showing the way towns used to look before the 1900’s.

IMG_1092 (2)

The first place I visited in Kawagoe was Hikawa Shrine. It wasn’t until after I left the shrine that I read that it was a shrine dedicated to relationships and matchmaking. Perhaps I should return there this year and offer a prayer.

The rest of my visit was fascinating but so many tourists. LOL. I tried my first sweet potato ice cream in the Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Lane). I really wanted the purple one but they were out so I settled for the orange sweet potato ice cream. interesting and delicious!!

Even though it was a very hot day and quite crowded it was well worth the trip out. There are plenty of signs in English near famous landmarks, and there are things you come across such as the moat fortifications that are quite interesting and informative.

A great day out all round and heading back to the station I stopped for a bite to eat at a funky chain store diner. Nothing exotic just delicious noodles and gyoza.

Stay tuned for more of my adventures from last years visit to Tokyo….



Tokyo Day 2 – Electronics and Gardens


Sunday in Tokyo saw me have a bit of a sleep in and lazy morning. It was just after 12 when I finally got to Shimbashi Station via Starbucks. My itinerary for the day was to visit Akihabara, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden and Rikugien Garden. This meant I got to travel on some new (to me) subway lines and suburbs. I am always up for adventure!

First stop was to be Akihabara. In all the trips to Tokyo I have not been to Akihabara, so it was time to venture there. I was on the hunt for an adaptor as I had forgotten to pack one and seeing as Akiba is nicknamed Electric Town I figured it might be a good place to get one for a reasonable price.

I got sidetracked in one building with 10 floors of anime, electronics, models, toys, games and all sorts of geekery. Then some time in little alleys where there were probably enough electronics components to fit out a space station. Saw several Maid Cafe girls trying to get customers in, a sprinkling of Cosplayers too. No luck with an adaptor so it was time to hit the subway again.

After arriving at Koishikawa Station I popped in to a Lawson Store and picked up enough things for a little picnic and continued on. Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is located next to Tokyo Dome, however the entrance is about 10 minutes walk from Tokyo Dome as the garden is over 70,000sqm.

After having my lunch I strolled through this fabulous garden with the sounds of the crowd cheering on the Yomiura Giants who were playing at Tokyo Dome.

A good hour and a half later I was back on the train for my next stop Rikugien.

Another fabulous garden from feudal times. I love reading the stories of the gardens and how they developed, and were altered  over the centuries.

My visit to Rikugien was short as I arrived in the last hour of opening, but it was sufficient time to enjoy the beauty it held with in its walls.

Thanks for dropping by and come back again for the next (delayed) update on my visit to Tokyo last year.

End of an Era

And so as Friday has slipped in to Saturday it is now auction day. The end of an era. I have lived in this house now for almost 19 years, the longest I have ever lived in one place. September 28th would have marked not only my parents anniversary, my brother’s birthday but also the day we purchased this house.

IMG_0937 (2)
Sign up during the day

3E44E7B5-A806-422F-83C2-4DFDBA520710 (2)
Night time shot with the sign lit up

After the auction I can start the next chapter of my life story. I have put a deposit on a block of land in the Hunter Valley close to my parents and have plans to build a house for myself and Miss Juno Kunappi my cat. In fact I should be able to have a gate put in my back fence so that I can take a 10 minute walk to their place.

I have started looking for a job and have already applied for some.  I am feeling a little sad but the excitement of the changes that will be happening in my life is far outweighing the sadness. My mind has many ideas for what I want to do to my almost 1 acre of land. Too many ideas, I just have to start prioritising them.

The past year has been a strange blend of sadness and excitement. Divorce, stepping way out of my comfort zone (mentally and physically) and joining a great bunch of people to tackle the Kokoda Trail, getting used to being on my own, spending a fabulous week with my Mum in Tokyo, planning MY future, the passing of my grandmother, and much more. I know it will be tough but I will be closer to family which will be a great help.

So though I haven’t posted for some time, stay tuned for my next adventures.  I will be moving in with my parents for a while so Mum and I will probably end up cooking and gardening a lot. I hear that my Atherton raspberries (Aussie native) are flowering so by the time I get up there they should have some fruit.

2622F0AE-04C5-4824-AD00-F314FBC22FE6 (2)
Miss Juno guarding the books

Thanks for dropping by and catch you soon!!

Lunch for My Uncles

In January my Uncles came to visit for a catch up and so I could show them photos from the trip to Tokyo that I took with Mum, and photos from when I went on the Kokoda Trek last August.

I decided to do a Japanese style lunch to match the photo display.

Entree was  Gyoza with ponzu sauce, Tamago-yaki(rolled omelet) and Konnyaku with a large red shiso leaf from my garden. It was my first attempt making tamago-yaki and I used my tamago-yaki pan I bought in Tokyo last year. They weren’t too bad for a first attempt.

Tamako-yaki rolled to cool down before cutting

Gyoza at front, konnyaku rear left and tamago-yaki rear right.

Main was Kare raisu with chicken, miso soup, green salad (lettuce,chrysanthemum greens, shiso and beans picked from my garden, sadly I had to buy the cucumber), frilly tomatoes(scored, quickly blanched and the skin peeled back), and pickled cucumber. Sesame dressing for the salad and furikake rice seasoning.

Kare raisu, frilly tomatoes back left, miso soup in covered bowl, green salad from garden and pickled cucumber

Dessert was definitely not Japanese but I have had ones like it in Tokyo. Rosewater and vanilla pannacotta, almond praline, raspberry fluid gel, raspberries, flowers and herbs from my garden(heartsease, native violet, nasturtium, apple mint and chocolate mint).

Vanilla and rosewater pannacotta, almond praline, raspberries 

After that it was time to sit through HUNDREDS of photos. Thank goodness we were able to sit in comfort and look at the photos on the television.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Happy New Year!!


Wishing all my readers and their families a wonderful, happy New Year!

Thank you all for dropping by, reading and following my blog, I really appreciate it!!

Look forward to sharing my cooking and adventures with you in 2017.

Tokyo With Mum Day Seven: Bonsai Village/Omiya

Our last full day in Tokyo saw us with our second guide from Tokyo Free Guide who would take us to Bonsai Village/Omiya in Saitama Prefecture.

Our guide Kaori met us at our hotel and we started our trip from Shimbashi station to Omiya where we then changed trains to go to Toro on the Tohoku Main Line. Omiya became home to nurseries and bonsai gardeners two years after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 when they needed to move out of the central Tokyo region. The area around Omiya provided  favourable soil and clean water. As you walk past the private houses you will also see (by peeking over the fences) many Bonsai in the back or front yards.

A short walk from the station found us at the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum. The museum has only been open since 2010 and is home to a collection of bonsai and bonsai related art and items. Displays change seasonally with great information provided on the styles and types of bonsai displayed. The inside gallery has a no photo policy and some areas of the external display garden also do not allow photography,  but Mum and I were continually stopping in amazement as we walked around. Many of the Bonsai were named as they were quite old and very special.

Quince Bonsai
Quince Bonsai

Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

Maple Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Maple Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Bonsai on display Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

The Museum also has live music on certain days, on our visit a classical group. Well worth a visit if you love bonsai!

After the Museum we hit the pavements in search of Bonsai nurseries. We were both looking for pots and I was also looking for bonsai tools. First up a quick pitstop at The Bonsai House of Four Seasons, a rest stop that also provides community space. Then on to the bonsai nurseries. They are quite easy to spot as you will often find  a huge collection of larger ones on the footpath.

Bonsai on the road outside a nursery
Bonsai on the footpath outside a Bonsai nursery

We ended up visiting 3 as some were closed. Seikou-en  is where I managed to buy my pruning scissors and Water sprinkler spout. Still no idea how to use it but I will figure it out one day. I think we visited Mansei-en and we also went to Fuyo-en where I bought a bonsai rake(for teasing the roots out). No luck with pots as they were often quite pricey, there were some less expensive ones but not what we were after. The price on pots was similar to the prices here in Australia, but more variety and often some very special artisan made ones that have stratospheric prices. If your bonsai is special enough it deserves an artisan made pot.

Apple Bonsai at Seikoen
Apple Bonsai at Seikou-en

Then we had a wander around and found a fabulous secondhand shop that was packed to the brim. Unfortunately our suitcases were getting a little crowded, so shopping was minimal. Note to self: pack less clothes in future, really you don’t need to leave Sydney with an 18kg suitcase. We did however manage to find some second hand bonsai pots for  around ¥500 each. I got a huge flatish one and a pretty green one. Mum picked a couple up too. This shop had the most fabulous collection of secondhand goods, I could have filled a shipping container(must win lotto first).

Hunger was starting to set in and we were lucky to find a cute little local establishment across the road. By day humble little local restaurant, by night retro karaoke bar replete with velvet seats and soft furnishing. Food was made and served by an older couple and a friend.

Our lunch spot in Omiya-koen
Our lunch spot in Omiya-koen

There were several options but it was nearly the end of our trip and we had not had a single Kare raisu(curry rice). It was on offer so Mum and I ordered that. Kaori had a tempura oyster dish, all for around ¥1000 each. Fantastic lunch, local is usually the best. As always with Japanese food presentation was fantastic.

Curry rice/ karē raisu
Curry rice/ karē raisu

Then it was time to head back and say good bye to our wonderful guide Kaori. I really must practice selfies.

Heading back to central Tokyo
Heading back to central Tokyo

I would like to thank Tokyo Free Guide for matching us with our two fabulous guides. If you plan to visit Tokyo try and arrange a guide through this great service. While the guide service is free you cover the cost of transport, meals and entry fees for your guide.

Thanks for dropping by!!

Stay tuned for our 8th (and final) day adventures

Blog at

Up ↑