Thursday, July 15, 2010


It's insane to me to think this, but I moved to Japan almost six years ago to this week (it was July 24, 2004). About this time each year I start to get nostalgic for my time there: chicken-cheese from Daikichi, the sound of cicadas in the forest, the oppressive humidity of summer, the smell of cypress wood houses baking in the sun. Sometimes I'll get a whiff of something vaguely reminiscent of those three Julys and I'll be instantly transported back.

My Mum and I were talking about Japan when I was in Ottawa last week, and how it was, for me, probably the most defining time in my life to date. I think she's right - Japan was where I learned to be me.

As nerdy as I was in high school, my sense of self took a huge beating in university. Looking back on those years, I can't even begin to describe who I was then. Japan gave me the opportunity to rise and discover who I could be, if I wanted to. I made some mistakes along the way (especially during that first month - oh lord, I cringe to think of it), but I wouldn't change anything about my time there for the world.

In case you're curious: An International Incident

So as I was thinking back on those days, I decided to look up Sakashita on google. And low and behold, what was one of the first pictures to appear?

(photos by Melissa Chasse)

Check out my 25 year old self, with my 25 year old husband. Of course, he wasn't my husband yet. Turns out my friend Melissa's old blog had some appropriate tags! I hope she won't mind my borrowing them.

We're swimming in Kawa Ue, which was so cold, but SO gorgeous! That water was crisp - and so refreshing on those 45ยบ+ days.

Check out this little area of the river called Dragon Falls:

(Melissa Chasse)

(Melissa Chasse)

And then I'll think to myself: I freaking lived there! That was 10 minutes from my house!


In honour of Japan, I'm just going to throw out one of my favourite Japanese recipes after the jump: kinpira gobo
Kinipira Gobo is a braised burdock & carrot dish. I used to buy it all the time from my local conbini in Ochiaigawa, when I taught there. Thankfully, the Korean grocery store near me carries both fresh and frozen burdock so I can make this whenever the craving hits.


  • 1/2 lb gobo (burdock root)
  • 1/4 lb carrot
  • 1 tbsp soysauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsps vegetable oil
  • shichimi (to taste) [Japanese pepper flakes mixed with sesame, orange and nori)


Lightly shave the gobo skin and shred gobo into very thin strips. Soak the gobo strips in water for a while and drain well. Peel the carrot and cut it into short and thin strips. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan, and fry gobo strips for a couple minutes. Add carrot strips in the pan and stir-fry them. Add all seasonings in the pan and stir-fry well. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle sesame seeds and shichimi. 
*Makes 4 servings or enough for me to sit with in front of the television.


Alee said...

So, so cool!

Alyson said...

It was... both literally and metaphorically! I miss it so much on hot days like this.

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