Eat Sushi Like a Local

If you eat at the sushi counter alongside native Japanese, you’ll notice that there is a certain way to eat and order sushi.  Travelers often get this wrong, sometimes to the frustration of the chefs – especially at higher-end restaurants.  If you want to eat sushi like a local, take a look at this “Beginner’s Guide to Sushi” infographic (via).



A Korean American Wedding

Korean American Wedding at Padonia Swim Club by oh my omiyage

Don’t you love it when cultural traditions are mixed in with modern weddings?  At my friend Susie’s wedding at Padonia Swim Club, there were many women dressed in colorful hanbok, and they held a Korean wedding tea ceremony.  It was my favorite detail of the wedding! Continue reading

A Little Cultural Perspective

I never realized that my family and personal background was so complicated until I moved to Japan.  I’m Chinese American with family roots in Indonesia and Hong Kong.  I have personal roots in Canada and the US – the south and west coast.  My husband is Japanese, and I also now live in Japan.  Whenever the Olympics roll around, I’m never at a loss finding a country to cheer for!

Living in Japan (or possibly anywhere where the majority of the population is of one ethnic background), people try to categorize you.  Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a bad thing.  People try to understand each other in a way that will fit into their existing mindset.  It’s similar to asking for someone’s profession and being able to make connections in your mind about that person based on that information.  For example, if someone told me they’re a blogger, I would tend to assume certain personality traits (creative, sociable, friendly, awesome) about that person based on my experiences – until I develop more of a relationship.  (Side note: I’m a Communications Major so how people interact with each other really interests me.  In fact, I’ve been known to stare in the name of “observation”.  Very often.  I’m oblivious to others’ disinterest.. and at times, normal social graces.  So please feel free to jump down!)

The problem occurs when you meet someone whose background you haven’t had much experience with previously.  Your mind quickly tries to find a category, even if that only describes one aspect of that person.  Since I moved to Japan, I’ve heard “Oh! You’re American.”  or “I see.  You’re from China!” or “You’re Hong Kongese.” many times since I moved here.  I just smile and nod, but in my mind, I always think, “Yes, but I’m obviously Asian, ” or “But I never lived in China,” or “Is ‘Hong Kongese’ really a word?”  As much as people would like, they can’t categorize me into one ethnicity or location.  But I don’t blame them for trying because I can’t either, and I’ve had a lot more time to process it!

To me, my blog thus far has felt like “an American experiencing Japan.”  My perspective and original recipes, crafts, and projects have been heavily influenced by American style and culture, a bond that’s grown stronger for me since moving to Japan.  Over the past few years, my other cultural identities have gotten a little lost in the mix.  Moving forward, I’ll still feature my favorite spots and finds in Japan, but I’ll be featuring more projects and ideas that pull from one culture or another or a fusion.  I’ll also try different cultural takes on popular projects in the blogosphere.  If I have all of these influences, I might as well use them, right?  :)  I have some really fun plans in store, and I really hope that y’all will enjoy the little change in direction.


Simple Homemade Plum Sorbet

Japanese Plum Sorbet

Japanese Plum Sorbet with Yuzu Mochi

I promised a few weeks ago that I would attempt to use an ice cream maker, and with the weather getting extremely hot and humid this week and my freezer emptied out, it was perfect timing. I happened to have a box of plums in my fridge that I probably wouldn’t have finished, but turn it into sorbet, and I couldn’t get enough!

Japanese plums are smaller and juicier than the plums I’m used to in the States.  They’re a little bit bigger than the size of a golfball.  I love their bright and vibrant color.  I’m not sure if they’re exclusive to Japan, but I haven’t seen them elsewhere.

Japanese Plums

Japanese Plum Sorbet

I arranged the sorbet into little parfaits with marshmallows, 2 scoops of sorbet, some yuzu mochi, and a decorative orchid for color.  Now with my first attempt at sorbet out of the way, I feel confident enough to use even nicer ingredients.  Kyogo grapes here I come!

Simple Homemade Plum Sorbet
Makes 4 servings

1/2 – 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups water
450 grams plums (about 8-10), roughly cut with pits removed*
*If you can’t find Japanese plums, regular plums will work too

1. Make a simple syrup: Put the water and sugar into a small saucepan on low heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves fully. Turn off the stove and let the syrup cool completely.

2. Blend the plums in a food processor and pulse on low speed about 10 seconds. Increase the speed and continue to blend until smooth.

3. Press the plums through a fine sieve. This should yield about 3 cups. Discard the leftovers.

4. Mix the plum and syrup together thoroughly and place this in the fridge for an hour.

5. Remove the mixture from the fridge and place it in your ice cream maker for about 25 minutes. Serve as is or place the sorbet into an air-tight container and put it in the freezer for another 2 hours for a harder consistency. Serve as you like!

Japan’s Cultural Taboos and Unwritten Laws

Japan is a culture classified by order, trust, and loyalty.  You can see this in everyday life in Japan – how everyone stands on one side of the escalators, how most Japanese people trusted the government during the nuclear crisis, and how cohesive Japanese culture is even overseas.  Since moving to Japan, I’ve discovered a hidden phenomenon in Japan of dark cultural taboos and unwritten laws that most tourists and expats don’t hear about.  I thought I’d start a new series uncovering these underground – and sometimes not so underground – cultures.  Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come: