- ▼ 8月 (5)
My mother was not good at using all the food ingredients when she cooked dinner, and I felt it is a waste to discard left over vegetables.
I arranged and cooked with these left over ingredients when I was young.
Later, I started working in the society and I had a period of ill health. Even this period, cooking was the only thing I continued. That is why I realized that cooking must be something important existing in the deep bottom of myself.
After this period, I cooked pepperoncino with a red sea bream soup stock for my girlfriend. This made her pleased more than ever and I was really happy to see her smile as well.
I think these accumulation of small experience changes someone’s choice significantly.
When I was working for a big firm in the completely different industry type, I just felt I am just a part of big gear wheel. A sense of existence was sparse and I was not sure what was the purpose to live in this world. However, working in the cooking field gave me solid sense of living physically.
As through training in the ten different types of restaurants, I have realized that I prefer making something for someone’s intention so that I can create with my own idea rather than just repeating same recipes over and over.
Then I decided to be a personal chef and visited many houses. This experience made me realize that Japanese home-style dishes are not in a good condition.
There is no more “Home-style dishes” in Japan. Most of families spend their meals with food additive and pre-made food.
They just do not have time and good education. For me, it looks like “Home-style dishes →products produced by the big enterprises”.
It is a shame that Japanese education does not teach a skill to be able to cook ourselves. I think this is a serious problem in Japanese society.
Therefore, my work field is shifting towards to a designer for a dining table culture from a personal chef. I counsel people who have difficulty preparing meal at home and are not sure what to eat every day. I support the process and development to create a happy dining.
I joined several cooking classes, and they were more like enjoying the cooking scene with other people through learning recipes. They are rather entertainment type of cooking classes. I think it is fine to enjoy them, but I felt something is wrong. Because they are considered as predominant cooking classes by most of people.
When you think about the real life, people have to go through many steps like going for grocery shopping, precooking some ingredients, and serving on the plates. But many of the cooking classes do not cover all of these steps but teach only one part. That is why people have difficulty becoming good at cooking in the real life.
When I teach cooking, I would like to see the entire scene and want my students to use the skill and knowledge in the real life. The entire scene could be not only cooking but their life style and social circumstance.
In my cooking class, I teach entire steps including picturing the idea, choosing good ingredients, shopping, and serving on the dish. It is important to teach the concept of cooking not some recipes.
Many people misunderstand recipes, and this is the reason people feel uncomfortable when they cook. A recipe itself is not a textbook to guide you to be able to replicate a dish exactly the same as a recipe. It is almost impossible to make the same thing since the type of ingredients are different depending on where they grew up.
“Let’s re-create exactly same as the recipe!!” is desipience.
Recipes are unnecessary, and they are just references. If you want to be good at cooking, you have to be able to arrange the ingredients around you promptly. That is why I do not teach recipes.
There is an excitement of science experiment dispensing ingredients with your idea. I carefully choose the vegetables grew up with natural cultivation and share information of these shops.
Lessons are monthly and a year course, and each lesson takes about five hours. Therefore, my students have to set up a day to spend entire their day for just cooking once a month. My studio is very comfortable place holding about seven students.
I would like to send a message of being free for not only cooking but for a life itself. It is fine to be yourself which means it is fun to choose and combine together with your idea. I learned this from my experience of straining, but I would like everyone to realize this before being like me.
Most of people did not know the information of food additive in the ingredients sold in the grocery stores and convenience stores.
There are people who do not have a time for cooking at home because of their tight work schedule. There are also many people who have difficulty seasoning. The homemaking course in the school education is a bottom cause. They do not teach necessary method of cooking to survive but rather depending on the food culture of each family. The concept of “The kitchens are for women and men go out for work” is strongly left in Japanese culture even in the year of 2016.
There are two things that I can do.
As through learning “basic rule of good taste”, you can understand the root of taste so that you can create delicious dish. It delivers you confidence without depending on recipes. I hope Japanese education would consider including “basic rule of good taste” in the future. Then, it can take the burden off from cooking and leads to enjoying the whole process.
This is all about directing people’s attention to food ingredients and national issues controlling basic structure of industry. Eventually people can reach to the deep end where all the lives are connected. Then, we can finally understand the meaning of “itadakimasu” which is the word we say before the meal to show our appreciation for eating lives.
Family member told the student that her flavor on the meals got settled.
The stress level of cooking is reduced.
I can do freely!!
These are the comments I got so far.
It seems like everyone get relief from the recipes and they started feeling something other than cooking as well.
Basically, food culture is influenced by the site location, nationality, community, life style related to the jobs. As for the site location, the food processing technique is developed in inland. Because of the environment, Japanese food is rather simple and we can taste direct ingredients. Japanese people have a mind of living together with nature, there are different food ingredients and menus depending on the seasons. Many elements compose the food culture like a spider web.
I am currently working as a personal chef and a dining designer, but I want to expand my carrier in the education field. I want to focus on teaching the importance of food while I brush up my skill as a professional chef.
It would be best if I could deliver “basic rule of good taste” all over the world by 2021. As for the first step, we are thinking about publishing an illustrated book for children to tell a story about “basic rule of good taste”.
Do you eat properly every day?
Traditional Art & Craft, Edo Sashimono
Mr. Tadashi Kimura
Would you tell me the history and feature of Edo Sashimono (cabinetwork)?
Traditional Japanese art & craft, “Sashimono”, has more than a thousand and several hundred of history. People used to use as a miniature shrine and a gift for a court, aristocracy, and priest. Sashimono established a category called “Edo gonomi” later in the history, and it is one large cohesion of woodworking technique in the present times.
Especially the genre called “Edo sashimono” has the most sophisticated technique utilizing traditional methods by using domestic natural woods. These facts satisfied people who live in the city, and they were very particular about the beauty and finish.
The feature of Edo Sashimono is in the coupling joint which you cannot see from the outside namely inside coupling joint. There are two origins in sashimono, and one is measuring a thing precisely with a ruler. This ruler was called “sashi” in the old times.
The other one is a craftsmanship of fitting pieces together without a spike. This craftsmanship is called “sasu” as a technical word.
In either way, coupling joint is as important as a life of sashimono.
The color of wood is rather bright when it has not been so long, but it changes to tortoiseshell color after 20 years. Mulberry trees in Mikura Island has been used for more than 200 years. Therefore, the number of mulberry trees in Mikura Island is declined and they are not in the market anymore. Even the people in the same line do not own them anymore. There is no better noble wood than mulberry trees in Mikura Island.
The number of sawmills, adhesive material manufactures, and metal plating manufactures is declining rapidly and all of these people have a hard time finding a successor.
Can you tell me your background and the story behind being in part of Edo Sashimono?
I lost my parents when I was six because of atomic bomb in Hiroshima. I did not have any people or place to depend on, so it was clear that I’d better learn a strong technique. That is why I was involved in the woodwork. I found out that my brother lived in Tokyo, and he introduced me to my master, Mr. Shimazaki. I became his pupil and was trained under him for 13 years. I am 78 years old now which means I have been working for Edo Sashimono for more than 60 years.
I did not have any skills other than Sashimono. It had been said that spending 10 years makes a qualified worker, but I had to spend extra three years in order to take care of two young craftsmen. After working as an apprentice for my master, I set up in my own business. My master took me to his clients and recommended them to do business with the same price as the master. It is a common pattern to succeed business in parents and child but pupils set up their own business under Mr. Shimazaki. I think this pattern is unusual and only under Mr. Shimazaki.
I do not have any pupils currently but there used to be one or two pupils always here until five years ago. They probably saw or heard many of difficult circumstances like people came here for advice and vanishing of precious wood merchants. These difficult circumstances made them worry for the future. Other workshops faced to the same situation, and we were all short in successors.
There used to be 30 to 40 workshops but there are only a few left now. There are only two workshops hold the knowledge and skill handling mulberry trees. We all have different techniques and designs depending on the tradition.
I had been attending the exhibitions in the big departments for more than 30 years. I went there with furniture which I designed and made myself. For example, this chest has pure silver fittings. There are no other workmen who order pure silver for a chest. But I think it is worth using pure silver because this cabinet is made with mulberry trees from Mikura Island.
When the main road for the cars made in Mikura Island, I went to the market to buy most of the big mulberry trees. I have been contacting the people I met in the market since then and they allow me to buy mulberry trees. Additionally, they are very kind enough to send me the condition of the trees.
I think your job is to face to the different character of trees every day. What is really important for you to make a piece of furniture?
When I make joints on the wooden parts, I have to be very careful for not making it too tight but not too loose. This sensitive adjustment cannot be done by a machine. The size and thickness of tree is different depending on what you make. I have to determine with my eyes and make carefully. That is why our work is done by only our hands.
Trees were grown in the nature and they all have different character. Some of the trees are nice and easy-going, but some others are difficult and devious. The northern half of tree is called “bad tree” at the midpoint of one tree, and workmen wants to avoid these bad trees. These bad trees have different color and no one cannot fix their character no matter how much effort people put on. These bad trees are mainly used in the northern part of houses so that their character is adapted to the climate. On the other hand, southern half of tree is grown honestly and it is easy to handle.
Mulberry trees grew up in the mainland have dark color. The color of tree differs depending on the growing districts because of the nutrient element in the soil. Miyake Island and Mikura Island are close each other, but Miyake Island is a volcanic island. Therefore, their mulberry trees are different. Mulberry trees grew up in the mainland are cheaper, but I do not buy them. For the workmen, using a not noble tree loses our vitality because we put the same amount of effort anyway.
When I see the precious tree, it makes me peaceful. I am always thinking how to use a certain tree. There are only a few good wood grains in the tree and I get the picture of all the good and bad trees in this workshop.
Where do you get the demands nowadays?
There used to be many orders from the wholesale merchants and our furniture was sold in the departments. Because of the changes in dwellings, there are not so many apartments putting a low table and Japanese-style chest. Then wholesale merchants stopped ordering furniture. I directly went to the departments to sell sometimes.
We get more orders from the individual customers directly now.
They order wide variety of small products rather than big furniture.
I made some ballpoint pens and hand mirrors, and most of them are sold. The people who bought these things give someone as a gift. No matter the size of the products, nice color and good wood grain are obtainable only from a limited part of roots. Therefore, cutting out a small piece out of big tree is such a precious thing.
I made some tools like miniature planes for the people who come here for the trial classes. You can make your own chopsticks using these tools. There are many visitors here such as school excursion students, tourists from overseas, and rural people with strong wills to learn woodwork.
How would you like to expand your work in the future?
Fortunately, I am very busy for responding to the orders from my customers, so I am not thinking about expanding my work currently. I just want my customers to use my products cautiously for a long time.
Guest House “Kagaribi”
Owner Mr. Daisuke Abe & Mr. Toru Itagaki
Bright balefire has been lit in one of the block located in the commercial avenue near the west side of Kitasenju station, Tokyo. You can see beautiful new wooden color on the exterior appearance. Once you step inside of the guest house, it reminds you of Japanese traditional style house. You can feel nostalgic from the dark color of wood and earthen floor, and they make you want to stay for a long time with a cup of tea. The guest house’s name is “kagaribi” and it has a meaning of “keep lightening up balefire so that many people can come here to gather”.
Two young owners renovated all the interior from scratch by themselves. Every time I come to visit them, they seem very happy and told me all the episodes regarding the wooden fittings. Some of the interiors are donated from the people in this community. The guest house became a place where you can feel comfort and warm feeling of people.
Finally, it is the opening day, and congratulations!! How do you feel about accomplishing the construction?
We are thrilled to welcoming the guests. It is partly exciting but on the other side, we wonder how our gusts will take in this place. This is our first experience to run the guest house, so we have a slight bit of fear against uncertain things.
Please go to booking.com, our home page, or Facebook for reservation.
Why did you decide to start a guest house?
There are good value and quality in the Japanese traditional houses and malted rice. We wanted to open the place where we can promote two things together at the same time and it was a guest house. We do not specialize in the guests from the overseas, but it is more for the wide variety of travelers from all the places.
The land owner of this place is a translator who lives in the overseas so he welcomed for what we wanted to start. We had a business novelty for this area and it was quite easy to get a permission from public administration. We thought about opening a guest house in Kawagoe or Saitama, but we are glad that we ended up in Kitasenju since it has better access.
There are too many guest houses in other area of central Tokyo like Asakusa. Kitasenju is a very convenient and unique place where many lines of subways and JR pass through. People use here as an entrance or via point to access the local regions.
Our place is located near the Arakawa river, and there is a great road for a bicycle. People who ride a bicycle could stay here to rest and travel to the local regions.
You have renovated this place by yourself. What is your feeling for this place?
We do not have any knowledge or skill like a professional workman, so we came through the entire process with anxiousness. There were not enough wooden fittings, so we have started drawing our idea on a piece of paper. As you can see this layout map, we wanted to make Japanese traditional style interior. We have worked on the construction for four months adhere to embodiment of our first idea. We are fully satisfied with completed guest house.
You got some of the wooden fittings from the people around here, your family, and friends. How did you make tight human connection in the short term?
There are very kind people in this area like the owner of public bath, our neighborhood, Adachi ward office, and people who saw our post on the Facebook. We have started this place without any connection between the area and people, so we just wanted to let people know what we are going to start. I guess these helpful people saw our post and were interested in the new idea. Then they came over to see the construction site, and some people introduced us to a professional workman or a person who is familiar with this community.
If you look closer at the wooden fittings, you can see the details where we used our ingenuity. I hope local people will understand what we are doing here. We also want to cooperate for the enlivenment of the community with the commercial district.
How do you want your guest especially from the overseas to use your guest house?
I want them to enjoy the down town in Tokyo. There are many low-price things, and people are warm. You can experience a public bath, and interaction of people exists in the community. We are thinking about many events for the guests. For example, introducing a tea ceremony, cooking malted rice, sharing our daily meal could be great experience of Japanese culture.
This is also an entrance of the provinces. It is a convenient place to access to Saitama, Gunma, and Ibakaraki for going on a hiking or visit a hot spring. It is close to Ueno and Nippori so that the access to Narita Airport is best. There is a shuttle bass from Kitasenju station to Haneda Airport.
How do you want to expand your business through this place?
We would like to sell pudding and sandwich incorporating with malted rice. We want to try something new for this area. Our guest house could be the place for advertisement of local area. Since we renovated this place from scratch, and I hope our guests will understand our passion. To host our guests with the best hospitality, we prepared snack boxes in each room.
Please give us the final message for the audience.
We made a short movie regarding our four months of renovation. I hope you can enjoy watching it and if you are interested in seeing the real place, we are more than happy to show you.You will be able to see the traditional Japanese style in the wooden fittings in everywhere. It might be the common house style back in the old days, but young generation do not know these things. It will be the best place to experience nostalgic Japanese house.
Adachi Garage kikkake
CEO Mr. Kaoru Kagayama
A non-descript garage turns into the place where people get together through making things. Children and adults are fascinated with making things and they almost forget lapse time. This is where you want to stay for a long time and be cozy with hearing laugh from people.
Hakori Corporation changes a place where no one would come to totally a new place. At kikkake garage, the art workshops and events are held often. I interviewed CEO Mr. Kagayama today.
Please tell me your background and the story of opening Hakori Corporation and kikkake garage.
I worked as a sales representative at a real estate company for six years. I rode a bicycle everywhere in Tokyo to memorize properties and cities. I really liked working for them because they did not look like a normal real estate company. They had business with many of nice companies like fast-growing internet enterprises. Half a year after the marriage and having a daughter, it was a turning point for me to leave the real estate company and start my own business.
I did not have something that I want to do but I always liked the cities. Issues of vacant dwelling was on the news at that time. As for the personal life, I had to find a nursery school for my daughter and a care facility for my grandfather. These two issues overlapped together and made me think “I wish properties could change along with the trend of the times”. Because of the decline in population, there are too many unused properties ended up closed shutter streets. I think there is a way to use these vacant properties effectively. For example, we can change these vacant properties to nursery schools or care facilities. There is also excessive land in provinces.
I got a license for consulting vacant properties and proposed some of the people effective utilization of the property. Because of the timing, it was actually difficult for them to change the properties. Since Hakori means “changing the box”, I decided to learn interior finish work at the construction site in one of the apartments.
At the same time, I got a lease agreement for this garage so that I can make my idea happen in reality. My father is a craftsman who makes stage sets for TV commercials. I got waste wood from him to use effectively. All I did was reselling furniture from commercials and it was not something I craved for.
Then I made a table using waste wood but it needed a lot of effort more than I thought. One of the enterprises ordered a table and I made it involving a lot of people. It was worth 100,000 yen but actually it became only 50,000 yen. I learned how hard it was to make just one thing, difficulty, and fun to sell with the price through this process.
My good friend from the college joined here and he made a second floor in this garage with metallic materials. It made the garage more comfortable for everyone.
What project are you working on now?
I realized that there was a vacant house named “ougi so” right in front of my parents’ house one day. I called the owner to tell “I would like to renovate your house” and of course, the owner hung up the phone without saying anything. A month later, the owner called me to tell “I want to hear about renovation”. I told the owner directly that kikkake garage has started from a simple empty garage, and we renovated interior and ended up like this. We are not aiming for just changing the interior but for changing the town where people could gather naturally. Renovation of the self-enclosed factory is one of the ideas.
“Ougi so” is located in the convenient place from the Toneri Line station, but the property itself is very old. Unfortunately, it does not get a lot of sunshine, and it has a floor mold and old style layout. All these facts make difficult to find tenants. There used to be a public bath before but it had closed down. The real estate companies do not realize these trend of the times because they do not have sharp sensitivity. I can calculate yield from the owner’s stand point of view and propose the best renovation plan without seeking just attractive appearance.
On the first floor at “ougi so”, we will run a café. The layout is planned to be able to run the loading facility in the future as well. It is difficult for us to live with a floor mold anymore, we changed a floor mold to a café space so that 3 m ceiling makes it spacious. I also changed the color of exterior and removed a wall on the 2nd floor.
I think it is important to substantialize a house through the eyes of common people but not through an architect. Changing a town where people gather is what we want to achieve.
You have started your business with no personal connection with clients. How do you get your orders?
Most of the works are coming from the clients directly. There are individual clients and enterprises. I guess I had enough human networks from the former job.
I just hope our café will go well. I do not have any knowledge regarding cafe. We are going to prepare enough resource from the Crowdfunding.
A connection between people is a fate, and people will naturally gather when I work on the filed I want to.
We will have a BBQ party at the hotel in Nishiarai, Tokyo in August. I will invite people who I work with. Then, the good network will spread more. I want to host these events more with this hotel in the future.
Your mission is on “Changing the town” but not only “Renovation of the buildings”. What is there if you accomplish this mission?
I do not know the future and I am not sure about doing something makes this world better. I just do something has a possibility and when it goes well, it becomes my business. My life will come to an end while I am repeating these routine, and it would be best if someone can take over it.
Through my life, I want to make my firm strong construction group where all the skillful workmen gather. They do not have to have talented and trained technique like traditional art and craft. It is important to gather workmen who work on the daily construction field like a carpenter and a plumber. Technology will be developed more and more, and people will forget what everyone was able to do well without technology. If we continue an effort on remaining these old method, it becomes our strength.
You have started your business without any knowledge on a construction field workman. Is it difficult for you to manage workmen in such a situation?
I do not manage workmen at all or rather it is impossible. Since they are older and have more knowledge and experience, they teach and look after me. I cannot handle complicated work but assist workmen at the construction field.
What is the feature on the things which Hakori makes?
Our goal is to provide something with high technique. Through the process of reaching this goal, we would like to make a variety of things. Providing commodities flexibly in response with clients’ concept and budget is important for us. To make it possible, we need to involve many people who have necessary technique and knowledge.
We want to reach the level where clients will order based on our technique not on the character.
Please come to visit our garage so that you can experience our events and see our works.
Mr. Mayumu Saitama
Would you tell me your story of opening up the sushi world?
I liked to cook for someone when I was young. More than that, I like to do something for someone in general. About 25 years ago, I started training at the kaiseki meal restaurant. It was in the middle of bubble period, and we sold lunch with the price of $500.00. I trained about half a year there, and I wanted to clean fish more so I knocked the sushi world.
For me, sushi restaurant needs to control space. A guest would have totally different reaction depending on how he is served by a sushi chef. For example, it will be more effective to be whispered in low voice “This special tuna part is really tasty” rather than just simply said “This is a home grown tuna”. There is a time a sushi chef needs to shake customer’s heart aggressively. Therefore, I am confident that our hospitality especially conversation with guests is very satisfying compare to other sushi places.
It is unnecessary for me to keep talking for a long time. That is my own thing and different point from other sushi places.
Our head sushi restaurant is located in Tsukiji and it is a very competitive place for sushi restaurants. Our guests are mostly between 30s to 50s who want to get energy and passion from me. There is a feeling of relief in them thinking “Mr. Saitama will listen to me whatever I talk.”
Since I do have a confidence that I can serve delicious sushi, I can talk to the guests. There is veteran technique and skill trained in this world for a long time, and that is why I can entertain guests with the best conversation.
There was a time I wanted to quit this world since I could not talk to the guests well when I was 25 years old. Since the age-appropriate behavior meant “working earnestly” so I learned a lot from the guests at that time.
Then I went to see Yoshimoto comedy to learn “talking” as a professional. That made me realize the person who was talking enjoy what they talked. Since then, I save all my energy to give the best performance over the sushi counter. Most of my co-workers are not able to talk to me before dinner time since they know I want to save my talk to please the guests from the evening.
I had trained both at the middle class and high class sushi restaurants, then I have been working the current place for seven years.
At the high class restaurant, the owner was very specific about the details like the placement of chopsticks. Sometimes he slapped me because I was not punctilious. I did not repeat the same mistakes ever again once I was slapped.
In the sushi world, it takes about seven years to be able to serve over the counter. It sounds hard but I was not thinking seriously when I was young. I was just mentally prepared not to quit.
In the circumstance of several different opinions said by several different seniors, how you receive and understand their opinions were laboriousness. To state the bottom line first, I think it is important to be able to respond to all the people around you. Because it will be very effective when you stand behind the counter to serve your guests who have different characters and opinions.
This is the world where behaving seniors gives you next assignment. Since seniors will recognize your effort and spirit, they will give you next assignment. I practiced at home buying daikon radish and fish from the supermarket before seniors asked me next assignment so that I can somehow perform what I practiced rather than just saying “I do not know how to do this”. That is the training and gaining endurance and experience. This custom no longer exists nowadays.
I did not quit working in the sushi world since there is no point of leaving there because of someone else’s opinion. Of course, there were many of bullying situations both physically and psychologically. But I can do better and conformed to decorum, so I concentrated on living for my won.
I do not have any stress or pressure since I am loved by many guests. I enjoy serving sushi behind the counter until the midnight. I value fun and active conversation to please my guests with delicious sushi.
What is the signature of Sushi Tomi that other sushi restaurants do not have?
There are six branches and the new branch will be open in Ginza Matsuzakaya after the renewal next year. We have about 50 yeast of history.
Since Sushi Tomi is run by an intermediate wholesaler specialized in tuna market, we can serve the best tuna with in good condition and reasonable price. Our president is a tuna bidder and he devises the hospitality to satisfy guests. We would like to serve fresh and natural grown tuna with reasonable price especially at the flagship store in Tsukiji.
What is your persistence when you prepare a piece of sushi?
I always visualize how I want to serve at the end on the plate. I prepare fish in appropriate way so that I can serve it in the best condition and timing. Although it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare just one fish, I cautiously prepare fish with a lot of feelings into. I do not want to serve something ended up not satisfying the certain level of tenderness or texture.
I usually use about 8g of rice for a piece of sushi which is rather small amount compare to the regular size of 12g. Because I want to present sushi as for one of the pairings while guests are still drinking alcohol. I decide rice amount depending on the repletion level of guests. I wish young chefs could learn these instantaneous force.
What would you like try next?
Because the accumulation of my effort in the past led where I am now, I do not have any visions. Maybe it would be a life time agenda for me. I would appreciate if my guests introduce us to someone who is important or who they trust to come to our place.
How do you recommend for the people from overseas to enjoy eating sushi?
There are many guests from the overseas at our place as well.
I think they can enjoy sushi if they can order “Please include my favorite fish of A and B, and I leave to your choice for the rest of all”. In this way, they can explore something that set menu does not include even though the prices are the same. When I am standing behind the counter, I would like to serve in the best manner so that any guests from any countries can be satisfied.
Please send a final message to the reading audience.
There are certain important things that the people in each age should struggle with. If they can find the meaning in each thing and do their best, the consequence will follow after 10 years. Since I keep showing the attitude of learning, my guests are teaching me continuously.