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Japanese Culture | Hot Spots | Products | Food

FREE May 2015


It’s bento time! Unpack a Japanese favourite this spring


FOR A PICNIC OSAKA: A feast for your eyes ... and your belly Japan’s funkiest metropolis beckons with killer sushi and a retro flair


MAY 2015


May 2015 Vol. 03



08 Toronto’s latest hot spot

04 Japanese brands

Grilled to perfection on natural Japanese charcoal, Zakkushi’s skewers are the ideal way to please your tastebuds this summer.

10 Bento box: Eat to your ontent heart’s content Here’s to yourr health! Get outside in n the warm springtime weather and enjoy a Japanese picnic nic lunch as bright ht colours unfurl all around und you.

This month’s products will brighten up your mood.

30 Interview: Uncle Tetsu Light, delicate and freshly baked, Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese-style cheesecakes are winning over Torontonians. No matter how ow long the line is, you won’t be disappointed.

The neo-Japanesque collection


32 Local events 3 Celebrate Japanese culture in your own backyard. y

24 Only in Japan Crafty ladies know how to win a fight with this wicked twist on the bento lunch.

34 Beauty 3

14 The ugliest food ever Looks (and smell) aren’t everything; it’s the inside that counts.

Get a brand new style at Kamiya’s latest location..

16 The sake evolution After 400 years in the business, this brewery knows the secret to keeping traditions alive.

42 Japanese dining series A Kaiseki meal portrays culture through food and is appreciated using all five senses.

44 Pig out at Kobo Nobu Organic meat, seasonal veggies, local wines —plus a few treats all the way from Japan? You’ll want to go all out at this Japanese cookhouse.


36 Hit the books A schoolteacher takes revenge when her daughter is murdered on school grounds.

Flames of nature


38 Film focus An award-winning director and all-star cast tell one of the great Japanese-Canadian stories with reverence, humanity and gentle humour.

Travel 18 Featured destination: Osaka Get to know Japan’s funkiest metropolis. From killer sushi to barefoot deities, Osaka’s full of warmth, humour and a touch of mischief.

39 Memoir Forget not playing with your food! The lunchtime competition is heated when you’re making kyara-ben.

26 One-of-a-kind dining

40 Subculture

Tokyo’s samurai-themed restaurant executes a dining experience that is on the cutting edge.

Canada’s largest anime convention is finally here.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter


Nina Hoeschele

Japanese delicacies packed to go

Who doesn’t love a good old bento box? Rather than committing to one dish, a bento lets you sample a veritable feast in one reasonably portioned meal. But there’s a lot more to it than you’d think: the traditional bento box boasts a stunning number of variations (p. 10) that are about way more than just ingredients.

Editors Nina Hoeschele, Yumi Nishio Editorial coordinator Kathleen O’Hagan

They say you shouldn’t play with your food … but the kyara-ben heightens food sculpture to an art form (p. 39). Or, if you’ve got an enemy out there, try crafting your very own revenge bento (p. 24)—because it doesn’t get much crueller than ruining someone’s lunch.

Writers James Heron, Jennifer McKechnie, Kathleen O’Hagan, M Crowson, Mark Hashimoto, Rudolf Reinhard, Sheena Kirkbride, Shelley Suzuki, Stephen Choi Designers Chiyako Mukai, Reiko Ema, Chieko Watanabe Web designer Hiroyuki Azuma

Not into food in a box? How about on a stick … or in a ball? Our featured destination, Osaka, is also known as “the nation’s kitchen,” and it’s full of edible delights in all shapes and forms (p. 18).

App developer Akali Fukuda Photographers Kazu Maruyama, Hiroyuki Azuma

No matter what your tastes, we’re sure you’ll find something to like among this issue’s many flavours. They don’t call us Bento Box for nothing.

Production assistants Stephen Choi, Moe Tashiro, Michelle Kurotaki, Yukiko Naka Marketing administrator Emma Gao Publisher Kazu Maruyama

Bento Box Communication Inc.


360 Bloor St. W. Suite 207, Toronto ON M5S 1X1


Phone: 416-847-6799




MAY 2015



nth’s products will o m brigh s ten up your mood. Thi

new? Japanese brands


01 Noritake

neo-Japanesque collection

The best china designed in Japan.

In 1904, a factory was set up in Aichi Prefecture with the aim to produce first-class tableware for export to Europe and North America. Now, Noritake’s china can be found in all types of places across the world, ranging from high-end restaurants to wedding registries, and its brand continues to represent high-quality and sophisticated designs. Noritake’s newest compilation consists of seven patterns that are inspired by an “East meets West” sensibility. The two bone china patterns, Noble Ensemble Gold and Noble Ensemble Platinum, are a beautiful modern take on classic mosaic designs that are reminiscent of the Byzantine Empire and are perfect for hosting guests with class and style. The five other patterns are made using Noritake’s original and newest fine premium porcelain, which combine pure whiteness, translucency and strength, and each piece is full of character and uniqueness. This stunning tableware will give even mac n’ cheese a gourmet touch.

Noble Ensemble Gold Inspired by byobu, or traditional Japanese folding screens that were used to separate private spaces, the Noble Ensemble Gold collection features stunning gold and textured tiles banded luxuriously around each piece.

Although fine china often evokes images of frailty (and nervous diners), Noritake’s products are actually some of the strongest ceramics around. Fired at high temperatures and made from tough materials, you can relax and enjoy your beautiful dinnerware for anything from casual dinners to special occasions, and you can even wash them in your dishwasher. Can’t pick a favourite? Luckily, all seven patterns complement each other for endless mix-andmatch options.



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Noble Ensemble Platinum Sharing inspiration with the Noble Ensemble Gold, the Platinum collection also recalls the richly gilded byobu that were traditionally used among the elite.

Alluring Fields With design inspiration from the traditional art of Ikebana—the disciplined practice of flower arrangement—the Alluring Fields collection depicts vibrant flowers in beautiful watercolours.

02 Muji

How to make your home a happy place

It’s a proven fact that smells have a therapeutic effect on us, and it’s no wonder, since our smell receptors are connected directly to the emotional centre of our brains. Whether you want to be able to concentrate better as you study, relax as you fall asleep or feel invigorated while you clean your home, Muji’s aroma diffuser is the versatile mood-maker to suit your needs. Muji’s aroma diffuser vaporizes water and uses ultrasonic waves to evenly disperse a fine and dry mist across your home that is infused with one of its aromas. Its sleek and minimalist design is unobtrusive wherever you place it—and might even add to the décor of your

room!—while its nice ambient glow has two settings that can enhance the mood. Be sure to try Muji’s essential oils with the diffuser, because their quality and aroma selection are hard to beat. The diffuser’s deliberate engineering and simple instructions make it easy to maximize the benefits of aromatherapy, and with a threehour capacity, you’ll get a sufficient dose each day. And because it doesn’t use heat, you don’t have to worry about it drying the air in your home or being hazardous to your pets or children. Website: Price: regular $69.50, large $109.50

Pure essential P tii l oils il

Fragrance candle dl mini i i

Muji’s essential oils are extracted from plants procured from their countries of origin all over the world. They use an old-fashioned extraction process of steam distillation to capture the true essence of each plant. These brand new and vivid aromas are instant, on-demand mood setters. Price: $16.50 each

Muji’s brand new miniature fragrance candles hit the stores on April 21. These finely crafted candles were designed to recreate some of nature’s best smells, from sweet fruit to earthy wood and aromatic herbs. Their long-lasting flames Price: $9.00 give you a nice and relaxing way to enhance the mood.


Natto without the smell

Love the benefits of natto but hate that pungent smell? Mizkan is here to the rescue. Scientists at this food company dedicated their research to isolating and eliminating the element in natto that causes its usual aroma— Mizkan

and discovered Bacillus subtilis var. natto, an alternate bacteria that ferments the soybeans without leaving an offensive smell. Each package comes with a delicious bonito-flavoured sauce and Japanese mustard (karashi) for you to stir into it.

MAY 2015


What's 04 Japanese brands



2015 Legacy Voted IIHS Top Safety Pick and AJAC’s 2015 Canadian Car of the Year, the all-new 2015 Legacy adds refinements in comfort, safety and driving dynamics to its handsome new design.


he mid-sized sedan market has traditionally been the biggest-selling and most competitive segment in the auto industry, and as proven by the 2015 Canadian Car of the Year award, the all-new 2015 Legacy stepped into this segment against mainstays like the Accord and Camry and knocked it out of the park. With its sleek new design and advanced safety features, this model is better and safer than ever. At first glance, the new body’s more subtle and cohesive styling is a clear indication that this is a modish car. The new automatic headlights blend nicely with the shape and are a welcome update from the stretched look on the 2014


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model. Other updates, such as the integrated trunk spoiler, add functional style and boost fuel economy, as does the new Active Grille Shutter system. Subaru has developed a suite of technology called EyeSight for the driver. Using a pair of stereo vision cameras, EyeSight includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and a Vehicle Lane Departure Warning. It also includes a five-inch LCD display in the instrument panel and optional fog lights that rotate for better illumination at corners. EyeSight-equipped models have earned the highest IIHS rating of Top Safety Pick+.

At the back of the car is a standard rear-view camera and available rear radar system. The optional radar is used for three sophisticated safety systems: Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Assist. The Rear Cross Traffic Alert uses the rear radar to warn of vehicles coming from the sides when in reverse, with indicators in the rear camera display. The Blind Spot Detection monitors blind spots to warn of vehicles travelling in that tough-to-see area behind and to the side of the car, and notifies drivers using the LEDs in the side mirrors. The Lane Change Assist warns of vehicles coming from behind in adjacent lanes.

Improved 2015 Legacy power trains

Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive sets the Legacy apart

Standard 2.5-L and optional 3.6-L Subaru Boxer engines

Active Torque Split gives all Lineartronic CVT-equipped models an electric transfer clutch that can send torque to the rear wheels for optimal traction and response. The systems uses sensors that combine the driver’s inputs with yaw-rate sensors to actively adjust through turns while continuously adapting to changing road surfaces. For cars with the 6-speed manual transmission, a viscous-coupling limited-slip centre differential handles the front and rear torque split to deliver a handling balance that everyone can appreciate.

Lighter, quieter and more efficient, the Legacy 2.5i has several enhancements to the engine that was developed in 2013, with up to 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. Also available in the 2.5-L engine is PZEV technology. Opting for the 6-cylinder Legacy 3.6R Touring or Limited trims gives you power increased to 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. The 2015 Legacy also sees a brand new Lineartronic CVT with reduced friction to improve fuel efficiency.

Drivers are also treated to sportier driving dynamics through a combination of mechanical refinements and enhanced Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC). Electric power steering, springs, dampers and suspension geometry have all been tuned for quicker and more responsive handling. Connecting these components to the ground are 17-inch wheels, or 18-inch wheels on the Limited models, and the Active Torque Vectoring VDC system borrows innovation from the WRX STI model to brake the inside front wheel in corners to quell the understeer. The interior has also been given a boost, and the experience in the cabin is roomier

than the previous models, with more legroom and trunk space. Softer interior materials and more elbow padding increase comfort in long drives, along with the quieter and more refined 2.5-litre engine.

The system has voice recognition in both English and French, which complements the integrated SMS text messaging, and it has premium sound thanks to an amplified 12-speaker Harman Kardon ® system.

There are two entertainment options for the Legacy. Standard on the 2.5i model is an audio system featuring a 6.2-inch touch screen display with Bluetooth ® streaming audio, SiriusXM™, iPod ®/USB integration and Aha Radio ® in addition to the radio and CD functions that you would expect. Models with navigation get a whole multimedia upgrade that increases the touch screen to 7 inches, with support for multiple gestures.

With style, comfort, safety and agility, the 2015 Subaru Legacy makes for a compelling choice.

Subaru Canada 2015 Legacy starting from $23,495 More info:

MAY 2015


Toronto’s latest hot spot

By Stephen Choi Restaurant

Zakkushi Set New tto yakitori? kit i? T Try this thi selection l t of the most popular skewers on the menu. With a balanced variety of meat and sauces, this dish is the perfect gateway into the yakitori world. * From left to right: Oropon Beef (with grated radish and citrus sauce), Mé Maki (garlic stubs wrapped with pork), P-Toro (crunchy and juicy pork), Umeshiso Yaki (chicken thigh with sour plum and Japanese basil), Momo (chicken thigh)

Charcoal -grilled goodness Grilled to perfection on natural Japanese charcoal, Zakkushi’s skewers (paired with a glass of ice-cold beer) are the ideal way to please your tastebuds this summer.

sauce n o p o r O h and ed radis

t This gra a fresh, e adds c u a s s citru avour. tangy fl


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Hungry for more? Let’s dig in!

It is a very Japanese thing to take something ordinary and perfect it until it’s something extraordinary. Even the simplest of foods like yakitori, which is just a Japanese name for grilled food on a skewer, can be elevated to a whole new level of deliciousness. If you don’t believe it, head down to Zakkushi and taste it for yourself. What really sets Zakkushi’s yakitori apart from all the competition is their use of binchotan charcoal. Binchotan is a prized white charcoal made from Japanese oak. It is nearly pure carbon, so it produces no flame or odour while retaining heat at even temperatures. When the skewers are cooked over binchotan, it brings out their natural flavours and locks in their juices for that perfect bite.

Premium Set

Zakkushi was the first restaurant to bring this technique to Canada

10 years ago, and its chefs have been studying and improving it ever since. So when it comes to the grill, you know you’re in good hands. With over 40 different kinds of yakitori and more than a hundred items on the menu, it will take you several visits to really get the full experience of what Zakkushi can offer. But don’t worry. The restaurant’s handmade décor and energetic atmosphere are enough to make you want to go back. From now until the end of the summer, Zakkushi is offering diners a pitcher of Sapporo Beer for just $9.99— so, if you’re looking to spend a warm summer evening with cold beer and juicy yakitori out on the patio, Zakkushi is the place to go.


They’ve taken yakitori to a whole new level. After tasting this selection of top-class meat, from Japanese beef to duck breast, you’ll consider yourself a yakitori expert. * From left to right: Wagyu Beef (with oropon sauce), Premium Beef Tongue (with salt and pepper), Duck Breast (with yuzu citrus chili), free-range Chicken Momo (with sea salt), Wagyu Beef Tsukune (meatball with teriyaki sauce)

Chicken Karaagé Biting into these crunchy fried chicken balls will fill your mouth with flavour—they’re uniquely enhanced by a kind of fermented rice called koji.

Yakitori Don SP What makes it so special? Topped with a softboiled egg and mayo, this dish has a savoury taste that goes beyond your typical yakitori don.

A word from the managers

Dedicated to the grill Grilling with binchotan charcoal is not as simple as it looks. With temperatures reaching up to 1,000°C, timing is crucial. It’s a skill that takes patience and dedication to master.

“Our motto is energy, spirit and a smile. With a lot of energy and attention to detail, you’ll feel the warmth of our Japanese izakaya. Right now, our focus is on providing the same taste and service every day so that your next visit will be just as great as the last.”

Zakkushi TEL: 647-352-9455 193 Carlton St., Toronto OPEN: Sun–Thu 5:30 pm–1 am Fri–Sat 5:30 pm–2 am

MAY 2015


Bento box



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Eat to your heart’s content Here’s to your health! Get outside in the warm springtime weather and enjoy a Japanese picnic lunch as bright colours unfurl all around you.

By M Crowson

With fun shapes and creative composition,

these meals are delicious and adorable.

This koraku bento is perfectly portioned for day trips. Each section holds a complementary flavour for your outdoor palate. 10

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From everyday to extraordinary: Unpacking the bento What’s in a name? Bento basics

Eat lunch with character Kyara-ben

A traditional boxed lunch that comes in many shapes and sizes, the bento has become an international symbol of Japan’s loving attention to culinary culture. But there’s more to this lunch than meets the eye. These days, most Japanese call it obento (お弁当), adding a respectful honorific prefix, but the term was first imported from a medieval Chinese word which meant “convenient.” The modern bento certainly lives up to its origins, as convenience is one of its distinguishing features. A typical bento box is divided into several compartments to maintain the integrity of the various flavours, and the container itself can range from disposable plastic to a gorgeously decorated set of lacquered boxes. The bento’s contents are prepared in advance, and the menu is created with three elements in mind. First, it must be nutritionally balanced. Second, each aspect of the meal should be in harmony with the others. Finally, it must be delicious served cold.

The social life of food Everyday bento

One O On ne style sttylle off bento ben ento that ento tha hat has ha h as charmed char ch arme med the me the worl th w wo world orlld is the kyara-ben (キャラ弁), or “character bento,” which features dishes shaped like characters from anime, manga or other parts of pop culture. The character could be as simple as a seaweed-wrapped rice ball designed to look like a pair of cute faces, or as elaborate as a Hello Kitty or Totoro character complete with accessories and friends. Kyara-ben were originally created by mothers to encourage their kids to enjoy their school lunches, but they have since become a global phenomenon, thanks to kyara-ben blogging and national competitions.

Explore the bento’s historic roots Makunouchi bento One of the most popular types of bento in Japan is the makunouchi bento (幕の内弁当), or the “between acts bento,” which usually consists of a combination of fish, meat, egg, vegetables and pickles. The accompanying rice is shaped to look like an old-fashioned straw rice bag, which is sprinkled with black sesame seeds. This bento gets its name from its historical origin in the Edo period (1603–1868) as a boxed lunch enjoyed by theatregoers in between acts. Traditionally, this bento would come in a set of tiered, lacquered boxes to be shared among friends, but nowadays they are mostly sold in individual portions.

Take a tasteful trip Koraku bento

Bento are traditionally made by women for their boyfriends, husbands or children. Lunches painstakingly made for a husband are called aisai, or “loving wife” bento, while oversized lunches made for big appetites—especially adolescent boys—have come to be heartily called dokaben, a kind of “hard-hat bento.” Many women go to great lengths to create beautiful and nourishing lunches. An artful bento can attract the envy and admiration of colleagues, classmates and teachers, while a merely functional bento could reflect poorly on the family. The pressure to be a selfless and loving caretaker means some women rise early each morning to craft the perfect meal.

If the kyara-ben are created to delight the childlike spirit of school-age Japanese, the kͻraku bento (行楽弁当), or “picnic bento,” is the kind of boxed lunch that grown-ups can enjoy. Koraku bento are made specifically to be taken on day trips when the weather is warm. When spring’s cherry blossom viewing season arrives in Japan, adults head outdoors to picnic under delicate pink and white petals, enjoying their boxed lunches with beer, tea or sake, in the company of good friends and family. Gorgeously constructed to match the season, koraku bento are made with fresh ingredients that harmonize with nature.

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Bento makers pay careful attention not just to the contents, but also to their presentation. Traditional bento are wrapped with extra care, often using a beautifully designed cloth.

MAY 2015


Spring in a box


Celebrate the flavours of spring with a colourful bento box. Spring has come, so let’s get out of the house and enjoy the sun. If you’re planning to go out for Hanami (also known as cherry blossom viewing), remember that nothing complements the beauty of nature like a colourful koraku or hanami bento. To illustrate, Chef Daisuke of Toronto prepared this great bento for us! But you don’t have to be a professional chef to make bento boxes. You can easily make one at home by using fresh, local ingredients and filling your box with an abundance of warm colours.


Colourful onigiri

Wrapped with carrot slices (!) instead of regular black nori (seaweed), these rice balls are sure to stimulate your appetite. Daisuke added fresh spring green by mixing boiled edamame with rice before forming it into onigiri.


Miso-marinated konjac

This konjac (devil’s tongue) has been grilled and then warmly dressed with honey-sweetened miso—a style of cooking that’s called dengaku. Konjac is a healthy choice that’s free of fat, sugar, gluten and starch. If you don’t have konjac on hand, you can substitute grilled tofu, eggplants or yams.

Chef Daisuke Izutsu Trained in Japan, Daisuke arrived in Canada in 2001 as a private chef to the Japanese Consul General in Toronto. During his tenure at the consulate, his cuisine earned accolades from, among others, Japanese royalty. Daisuke then worked with Marc Thuet. And in August 2006, he opened his own restaurant, Kaiseki Sakura. He quickly became Toronto’s number one Japanese chef: his


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‫ ޣ‬੗ ╴  ᄢ ੺ ࠪࠚࡈ‫ޤ‬ restaurant was selected as Canada’s top new Japanese restaurant for 2006 by enRoute magazine. In 2011, Daisuke started a new adventure by opening Don Don Izakaya as a co-owner and executive chef, and he has recently joined Kasa Moto, a high-end Japanese restaurant owned by the Chase Hospitality Group. Kasa Moto will open its doors in spring 2015.

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No time to make your own?

Try these ready-made bento boxes

Heisei Mart

Heisei eiise sei e Ma Mart r is a Japa rt JJapanese a nes apa e eg grocery roc occer ery store t llocated in the J-Town mall. Their bento box is a balanced meal with a variety of dried, pickled or steamed vegetables, plus a choice of chicken teriyaki, salmon, tonkatsu or mackerel for the main dish. Tel. 905-305-0108

3 4 5

~ FaMu Natural Meats

Tamago-yaki and grilled salmon

Small pieces of salted salmon add a splash of pink to the box, while Japanese omelettes are everybody’s favourite. You can add some sweetness to your omelettes if you like, but when sugar is added to a tamago-yaki, it can burn easily. Please mind the heat carefully.

Deep-fried veggies and chicken

Chicken kara-age (deep-fried chicken) is a bento box staple. Daisuke also cooked up some veggies with white soy sauce and put them into the deep-fryer for just a second or two to give them a light, crispy texture. (Note: White soy sauce is not actually white.)

Shrimp and okura umani

Yummy soy-sauce-braised shrimp! Make sure to go light on the soy sauce, or it will ruin the shrimp’s pretty pink stripes. Daisuke again added some green to the colour palette by pairing the shrimp with cooked okura (okra or lady’s finger).


Japanese butcher A the on As only lyy Jap Japane ane n see but ne b utche che herr in in TToronto, oro r n nto t FaMu’s FaMu aMu’s ’ss bento b to be ben o boxes are an authentic treat that use only naturally raised meat. Their mixed bento box has angus beef hamburger, chicken kara-age made from Mennonite poultry and an assortment of sides and vegetables for a filling meal. Tel. 905-475-5005

Sushi Marche

Sushi Sus h Mar hi Marche a chee specializes ssp peci c ali al zes es in es n catering caater cater ering ng and an nd pick-up pickk-up pick -u orders, orrder order de s accommodating all kinds of gatherings and events. Their Atlantic salmon bento boxes offer up a fresh portion of grilled salmon along with different sides each day. (Note: They only take orders for more than ten boxes.) Tel. 416-277-5512 (ask for Emi)

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Flavour of the month 朝食の定番、ねばねば美味しい納豆は 日本人の健康の源!

By Sheena Kirkbride Ingredient A little

taste of

natto Natto is considered a beauty food that helps clear your skin and combat aging.

Natto is a probiotic food with live culture that helps keep your gut full of healthy bacteria. Natto’s sticky webbing is stimulated when it is stirred, and the more you stir, the healthier it gets.


This beloved national food can be found in all kinds of dishes that you might be familiar with—from spaghetti to pizza.



The hidden secrets behind the ugliest food ever

The Kansai area is one of the few regions of Japan where the majority of people do not like natto. If you can’t stomach natto but want its health benefits, you can find nattokinase supplements at most health stores, although they don’t deliver quite as many nutrients as the actual food. Over 60 per cent of people in Japan eat natto on a regular basis, while 24 per cent eat it daily.

Looks (and smell) aren’t everything; it’s the inside that counts. Slimy, stinky and a very acquired taste, many newcomers find natto to be an offensive food—but if you can look past its flaws, you’ll find that there are very few foods that can compete with its powerful health benefits. Natto has been a part of the Japanese diet for around a thousand years, although some accounts claim that it’s been around even longer. According to a popular legend, Prince Shotoku was riding his horse through a town in Shiga Prefecture and stopped to feed his horse some boiled soybeans. He wrapped the leftovers in some straw and hung them in a tree. When he took them down the next day, the soybeans had fermented overnight and had become stringy. The story goes that the people in the village loved the taste so much that they started producing it in large quantities and spread it across the country. Nowadays, natto is made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis, and the process results in the stringy texture and pungent smell. Although some experts advise against consuming soy because of its hormone-disrupting characteristics, they commonly agree that this danger is eliminated once 14

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soybeans are fermented because of how easily they are digested. Even those with a soy allergy can often eat natto without a problem. Natto is a probiotic powerhouse with plenty of vitamin K, which is great for bone density and preventing blood clots. It’s also rich in protein, vitamin C and manganese, as well as iron, fibre and a slew of other nutrients. In fact, it’s such a perfectly nutritious food that some say one serving of natto is a complete meal. Regular consumers of natto are reported to have fewer strokes, fewer heart problems and even a reduced risk of certain cancers. The stringy texture is created by the broken-down protein of the soybeans, which is also the reason for natto’s sliminess. “Slimy” isn’t an appetitewhetting adjective for those accustomed to the Western diet, and it’s no surprise that a lot of people are turned off by the mere appearance of natto. The smell is yet another obstacle, with an odour that resembles rotting cheese. As if that’s not enough to make beginners avoid it like the plague, some first-timers swear that it tastes like eating stinky socks.

Despite the initial aversion you might have towards natto, it’s very likely that you’ll end up loving it, as do the majority of people in Japan. In any case, its unique and mighty nutritional profile certainly makes it worth a try. The most basic serving fashion is mixing the natto with some sauce, such as soy sauce, or with mustard (these often come with each package) and stirring it into rice, but there are several other great, more entry-level methods for acquiring the taste, such as mixing it into your miso soup. For most people, natto takes some time to get accustomed to—but who knows? You may end up loving it right off the bat.

[PR] Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya


Chicken broth and salsa? Ramen with a Mexican twist Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya, which was inducted into the ramen museum this year, offers special seasonal menus like Paitan Ramen made with pure chicken broth. On April 27, Ryoji’s exhibition at the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum opened its doors. The museum showcases nine of the best ramen restaurants in Japan in a unique streetscape replica that is made to look like it’s 1958. Mini versions of the restaurants line the mini street, serving mini-sized ramen so you can try a number of them in one visit. This is the second time that Ryoji has been exhibited at the museum since 2001. This return to the museum is a testament to the continued quality and popularity of their ramen. The good news is that we can taste the same ramen right here in Toronto.

Enjoy Okinawa’s local sake, Awamori

Paitan Ramen Chicken broth topped with special salsa

Another perk of having our own Ryoji is that there are items on the menu that are only available at the Toronto location. One of those is the Paitan Ramen. It is an unusual broth made entirely from chicken, topped with slices of chicken instead of chashu. It was introduced as a winter-only special, but it was so popular that it is here to stay. What makes the Paitan Ramen really special is the spoonful of salsa that it comes topped with. It might sound like an odd combination but it is actually a perfect match. The salsa adds that little bit of flair that the chicken broth lacks, giving it a distinct and unforgettable taste.

ur Try o ew en uniqu te tas Even though the Paitan Ramen is already a healthy choice, Ryoji offers some more options to make it even healthier. You can choose rice noodles (gluten-free), choose the amount of fat in the broth or choose the amount of salt. Delicious and healthy–– what more can you ask for? Ryoji’s seasonal menu changes every three months, so ask about it when you’re there or you’ll be missing out.

Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya 690 College St., Toronto | TEL . 416-533-8083


MAY 2015


Drink up!

By Mariko Tajiri Sake

純米造りの技術と徹底的に追求した 粋なキレ味

Kagatobi Gokkan Junmai


極寒純米 【かがとび ごっかんじゅんまい】

The sake evolution After 400 years in the business, this brewery knows the secret to keeping traditions alive.

mong cobblestone streets where geishas still walk lies Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery. This traditional brewery was founded in 1625 in Kanazawa City, a place that has come to be known as “Little Kyoto”—but that’s also grown to be an important city in its own right as a place that has seamlessly bridged the new and the old. Kanazawa is a castle town that was ruled by the Maeda family for three centuries, and it has preserved many of the traditions and artisanal crafts of the past—while also embracing contemporary tastes. And the same can be said for Fukumitsuya.


At Fukumitsuya Brewery, sake making has stayed traditional and respectful of the past for nearly 400 years, but these brewers have also embraced modern techniques along the way—making this a company that truly fits in with the duality of Kanazawa City. Committed to only brewing traditional junmai sakes (sakes made without the addition of distilled alcohol), Fukumitsuya’s house style is elegant and refined, complementing the local culinary scene. With a bounty of seafood such as crab and yellowtail available straight from the Sea of Japan, Kanazawa enjoys fresh ingredients all year round. Fukumitsuya’s sakes are brewed with these local flavours in mind: their subtle tastes are designed to pair perfectly with the gentle dashi flavours and the fresh seasonal ingredients that characterize Kanazawa’s cuisine.


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One of Fukumitsuya’s standout sakes is the Kagatobi Gokkan Junmai, made traditionally in the junmai style. True to history, it is brewed only during the coldest months of the year to ensure a long, steady fermentation period. The result is a sake that is clean and fresh, with notes of squash and cucumber, while also being full of acidity and umami to complement your meal. Structured, round and full-bodied on the palate, this sake can also be gently warmed to bring out the sweetness of the rice. Not only is the interplay of past and future a key ingredient in this sake—but you can also see it play out right on the packaging. The Kagatobi Gokkan Junmai comes in a beautiful can depicting the four seasons of Kanazawa and paying tribute to the courageous Kagatobi, the firemen who protected Kanazawa Castle during the 18th century. True to form, the cans are a nod to the past while fully embracing modern applications. So what’s the secret behind this brewery that has thrived for nearly four centuries? At Fukumit-

suya, the motto is simple: “Tradition is a series of continuous evolution.” And this motto is evident in everything it does. While staying grounded in the tried and true traditions of the past, Fukumitsuya is always looking ahead.

Region: Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture Rice: Yamadanishiki rice blend Rice polish ratio: 65% Alcohol: 16% Sake meter value: +4 Serving temperature: Chilled, room temperature or warmed* *Note: To enjoy this sake warm, always take off the metal lid first, then place it in a pot of warm water. Warm to a maximum temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.

Price: $9.99 for a 180-mL can (LCBO Vintages Release June 2015)

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Featured destination

By M Crowson Travel

温かい人と美味しいグルメに出会える パワフルな街、大阪

Have a taste for retro culture? Enjoy the colourful charms of Shinsekai! Japanese film buffs might even recognize Tsutenkaku Tower…


Get to know Japan’s funkiest metropolis From killer sushi to barefoot deities, Osaka’s full of warmth, humour and a touch of mischief. ©Sean Pavone /


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Welcome to “the nation’s kitchen”

Osaka 【大阪】

©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO


elcome to lively Osaka! Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River, this bayside city is Japan’s secondlargest metropolis, bustling with equal parts modern and retro culture. This fascinating region first became a major urban centre in the Edo period (1600–1868), when it was nicknamed tenka no daidokoro (天下の台所), or “the nation’s kitchen,” for its crucial role in the commercial rice trade. Four hundred years later, delicious food and drink are still at the heart of the Osaka lifestyle, so much so that the city is known for kuidaore (食い倒れ), a phrase which means something like “eat ’til you bust”—your wallet, that is. Of course, these days you can find plenty of casual cuisine that’s priced for the average eater, so you won’t actually destroy your wallet unless you hit every restaurant in the city. Dive right in and try Osaka’s soul food, the okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), or savoury pancake. Literally “cooked just as you like it,” okonomiyaki is a popular dish with many variations, but the Osaka style is the most famous. A mixture of flour-based batter, cabbage and meat or squid, the Osaka okonomiyaki is cooked on a grill and

topped with mayo, sauce, bonito flakes and green onion. Enjoy the down-home artistry of this dish at a local mom-and-pop restaurant, where the chef will cook it right before your eyes. Feeling even more adventurous? Treat yourself to tessa (てっさ), the Kansai dialect term for blowfish sashimi. Blowfish (fugu, フグ) is poisonous, so chefs go through rigorous training and certification in order to serve this delicacy. Particularly skilled chefs leave just enough poison in the fugu to give your lips a slight tingle. As you thrill at each bite, feast your eyes on the presentation of the sashimi, so thinly sliced you can see through to the plate—and exquisitely arranged in the shape of a chrysanthemum. Osaka’s charms are not restricted to its food, of course. Visitors with a taste for retro culture can visit Shinsekai, or the New World district, and experience the colourful charm of an area constructed in the early 20th century after the

aki y i m o Okon fashion of European cities like Paris. Japanese film buffs will recognize Tsutenkaku Tower (通天 閣) from numerous films. At 103 metres tall, the tower is a hot spot of urban culture, with gorgeous views from the observation deck. For a taste of the edgy, modern face of Osaka, check out the 173-metre-tall Umeda Sky Building, the most striking part of the city’s uber-urban skyline. The building is made up of two glittering skyscrapers connected by a rooftop “floating garden,” a glass dome observatory that you can access for ¥800. Next, juxtapose those sky-high views by gliding across the river on the famous Aqua bus cruise, an hour-long tour that gives you the city’s best water views for less than ¥2,000. Wait until nightfall to experience the neon wonder of nearby Dotonbori, the canal street that never sleeps. Take your picture in front of the famous Glico Running Man, or the giant crab

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Friendly, retro-cool and cosmopolitan

-   , ă€?太陽㠎奔】

Originally made for Osaka’s Expo ’70, this tower still strikes a loveable silhouette.

outside Kani Doraku restaurant, before wading into the endless line of trendy shops and restaurants.


If you plan to be in Osaka in late July, you must experience one of Japan’s top three festivals, the Tenjin Matsuri. The festival begins at Tenmangu Shrine, which is dedicated to Tenjin, the god of scholarship. During the festival, Tenjin is paraded through the city on a mikoshi (缞蟿), or divine palanquin, in a lively land and river procession with bursts of colourful ďŹ reworks. A millennial-long tradition celebrated with a modern sensibility, the festival reects the spirit of the city: friendly, retro-cool and cosmopolitan. Continues on page 22

     & - 

ĺ¤§é˜Ş MagniďŹ cent water views along Yodo River


Surrounded by a moat and massive stone wall, Osaka Castle features an impressive historic museum inside and a sprawling park outside.


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Osaka Station has eight plazas offering visitors a terraced sun deck, ample shopping, restaurants and recreation.

Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street is Japan’s longest arcade. It offers bargain hunters a mind-blowing array of affordable trinkets and goodies.

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Osaka’s eats and treats

Doteyaki For the frugal foodie

©Chiyako Mukai

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Special sauce

おみやげ Souvenirs Osaka’s known for its cuisine and comedy, so it’s no surprise that the city offers tasty souvenirs presented with a playful, tonguein-cheek flair. For edible whimsy, you might want to visit one of the Glico-ya shops. They have all of your favourite Glico products as well as special products limited to Osaka, like the takoyaki-flavoured Giant Pretz. Be sure to get yourself some Glico Running Man candies when you’re there because they are only available at Glico-ya shops. If you’re looking for a more durable gift, head to Doguya-suji Street for an elaborate plastic food sample, just like the kind on display in Japanese restaurant cases. They look good enough to eat—but we don’t recommend it.

Courtesy of Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd.

Enjoy the addictive flavours of Osaka’s saucy addition to some of its most delicious B-class gourmet foods: takoyaki (octopus dumplings), kushikatsu (fried pork skewers) and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes). Each dish has a sauce with a similar base, with a taste that’s a bit like Worcestershire sauce. The sauces are thicker or sweeter depending on the dish and the chef’s preference.

Giant Pretz Bring home the flavour of Osaka in the form of giant pretzel sticks. These takoyaki-flavoured, crunchy snacks have octopus juices mixed in the dough, along with a sprinkle of seaweed flakes and a touch of sauce.

Courtesy of Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd.


No culinary tour would be complete without Osaka’s famous doteyaki. A delicious treat for meat lovers, doteyaki is beef tendon simmered in a miso and mirin sauce. The juicy beef is chockfull of collagen, which is rumoured to counteract the effects of aging. While we can’t guarantee it’s a fountain of youth, the flavours are certain to send your tastebuds into a youthful dance. The tender pieces are usually skewered on a wooden stick and garnished with a generous dash of thinsliced green onion. Pair it with an icy beer and the company of a friendly barkeep.

Glico Running Man candies Don’t be a sucker: these Glico Running Man hard candies might be creepy, but they’re stamped with the face of Dotonbori’s famous running man, one of Osaka’s most recognizable sights. All photos © Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau unless otherwise noted


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MAY 2015


Cultural curiosity

By M Crowson Only in Japan

Revenge is best served cold Crafty ladies know how to win a fight with this wicked twist on the bento lunch. 犬も食わない夫婦喧嘩。早く謝っておかないと翌日に待ち受けるのは…。


ll couples fight sometimes, and most try not to go to bed angry. But when the yelling’s subsided and the anger hasn’t, some women have found an ingenious way to communicate their feelings: through an edible scolding called the shikaeshi bento, or Revenge Bento. Like an undercover agent, she wakes in the early morning and heads to the kitchen to cook up her own special payback. What makes Revenge Bento so brilliant is that her husband or boyfriend doesn’t suspect a thing. On the outside it looks like a typical bento, and his day begins like any other, perhaps even with a kiss on the cheek or the dulcet tones of itte rasshai! (“Off you go!”) He heads out of the house and goes about his business. By lunchtime, he’s probably forgotten all about their fight—until he opens his bento box and learns that revenge is a dish best served cold. These wicked meals come in a variety of themes. The simplest is the seaweed message in a bento, which features insults carefully cut out of strips


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him, and make him lose his appetite to boot. A third theme is the bad character bento, when she artistically shapes the bento ingredients into anything from a zombie apocalypse to a buxom, topless maiden waiting to embarrass him in front of his coworkers.

of nori, or dried seaweed. The messages can take the form of simple insults, such as “idiot,” or they can be a bit more devious—you can imagine how a gentleman might take pause when he sees the giant character for “poison” gleefully spread across his rice. Some messages may command self-reflection, or sound out her fury in adorable onomatopoeia such as iraira or punpun, mimetic phrases that convey anger or irritation. Another theme is the bug bento, wherein ladies gently cover his lunch with food shaped to look like creepy crawlers. Edible cockroach silhouettes and winding centipede treats—surely that’ll bug

For the truly vengeful, the final theme is the gag reflex bento, which inverts the classic Japanese esthetic and culinary sense to create a lunch that’s neither a feast for the eyes nor the mouth. Notable styles include the all-rice bento topped with a raw egg, a yellow box full of yellow corn or an inverted Hinomaru bento filled with sour, sour plums (umeboshi) topped with one tiny bite of rice. Whatever theme she chooses, the bento maker gets to blow off a bit of steam and use her creative energies to communicate her annoyance, and her edible act of revenge is often followed by laughter and reconciliation. Now if only he answered her Revenge Bento with his very own Apology Dinner!

Follow these tips to help you master the shikaeshi bento

CRAFT YOUR OWN EDIBLE REVENGE Want to try your hand at making your very own Revenge Bento? Here are some friendly tips to channel your negative energy into a lunch that he or she will never forget.

DO keep your plan under wraps.

DO adapt to your culinary environment.

If you can’t get your hands on Japanese pickled plum, try cutting up a dill pickle. Substitute spaghetti for yakisoba.

Avoid snickering, blushing or sweating profusely when you lovingly offer up your afternoon surprise.

DON’T forget the “bento” part! Your revenge won’t be complete without one of these lovely Japanese lunchboxes. Don’t even think about brown-bagging your payback. Illustrations by Chieko Watanabe

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One-of-a-kind dining

By Jennifer McKechnie Restaurant in Tokyo


Feast like a mighty warrior History buff, hungry traveller or theme restaurant aficionado? Whoever you are, Tokyo’s samurai-themed restaurant executes a dining experience that is on the cutting edge. Have you ever found yourself watching a Kurosawa film depicting bloody battle scenes and warring samurai while thinking, “Man … I’m hungry”? Well, hunger no longer. Your dream of mixing Japanese food with a sprinkle of history and a whole lot of samurai is about to come true. How? Well, if you find yourself wandering around the Shinjuku district of Tokyo with time on your hands and a hankering for some remnants of Japanese antiquity served up in a totally unique style, drop in to Sengoku Buyuden (a.k.a. Tokyo’s samurai-themed restaurant). The restaurant is named for the Sengoku period of Japanese history, a time ranging from the later 15th century through to the early 17th century. Now, you might be thinking, “but what does this have to do with 26

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samurai?!” The short answer is: everything. The Sengoku era represents a time in Japanese history when the country was rife with brutal conflict— where warlords battled each other, vying for the supreme position of Shogun. What’s the connection? Well, even samurai have to eat sometimes. If I gently close my eyes, I can hear their swords clashing…. Open for supper, the restaurant offers the average diner some decent Japanese nosh served up in traditional styles. From sashimi to chicken dishes to Japanese hot-pot, the menu meets a variety of tastes and uses Japanese flavours like miso to conjure an illusion of authenticity with each bite. Meal prices run above average, because, like all theme restaurants, you’re paying for the experi-

Prepare your stomach for an epic battle

Samurai 101

Celebrate your day Sengoku style Free for groups with special occasions, this fiery dessert plate is loaded with treats fit for a Shogun.

ence—the food is really a supporting character. That being said, we are there to enjoy the whole show … so, kick back with a birru (or “beer,” as many of the staff members are fluent in English) that you sip from a large mug complete with an actual samurai’s coat of arms—or try one, or two, of the sakes that are on hand. I’m sure that after a long day on the battlefield, samurai probably kicked back a bit too. So, what is it that makes this theme restaurant amazing? It really comes down to the homage to Japanese history. Guests can expect to be greeted throughout the restaurant by life-size replicas of famous samurai armour, and can look through

the myriad of flags complete with family crests from the period. Although replicas, the detailing is pretty magnificent, deserving more than a quick glance. The dimly lit atmosphere is a perfect place to plot out conversations with friends, or take a new boyfriend whose eyes don’t light up when you suggest going for a romantic meal at a regular restaurant. Aside from that, if you’re a tourist with a packed schedule, stopping in at this samurai hangout offers a bit of everything: Japanese food, a taste of the culture and history, and friendly wait staff. And, despite all the samurai talk, the only chopping happens in the kitchen. It is, after all, a familyfriendly place.

Being prepared for battle (or mealtime) means knowing something about the enemy. Wow your dining companions with these samurai facts: Samurai are more commonly referred to as bushi in Japanese Samurai were members of the nobility They are known today as having valued loyalty, respect and self-discipline Shinjuku is also the home of Tokyo’s Sword Museum, where you can catch up on even more samurai history Japan has over 100 castles up for exploring, with 12 original surviving structures—you can bet some pretty epic battles occurred on these grounds Famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa is the go-to guy for samurai flicks. Checking out his films is a must-do!

Sengoku Buyuden

Just a three-minute walk from the Shinjuku train station, the restaurant is located in the T-wing Building. Open for dinner, reservations are recommended. sengoku-buyuden TEL: 03-3209-2277 T-wing Building 4F, 1-6-2 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo OPEN HOURS Mon–Thurs: 5 pm–12 am Fri–Sat: 5 pm–3 am Sun and holidays: 5 pm –11:30 pm

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Let’s go to

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka!


∼ 三鷹の森 ジブリ美術館 ∼

©Museo d’Arte Ghibli

Searching for a place where childhood fantasies like a library of treasures, a magical cat-bus and beautiful mosaics surround you, just as if you’ve been embraced by magic? If this sounds like your ideal place to be, make your next destination the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka!

The Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, opened in 2001, was designed by famed Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki and is a dreamlike gathering place for his far-reaching fans. Just stepping inside will transport you to wonderland! The museum is like a beautiful maze, adorned with handcrafted stained glass that depicts Ghibli characters and colourful scenes. If you’re looking for animated film gold, you’ll find it here. Big or small, this museum offers something for everyone. Animation fans can check out exclusive behind-the-scenes material. Or try exploring the building’s stunning architecture, dynamic film exhibits, life-sized ‘cat-bus’ and robot-topped terrace. Just make sure to refuel at the café, and take a peek in the one-of-a-kind Ghibli shop!

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka calendar 2015

Sold out



Currently available

Ticket quantity is limited for each visiting day. Please contact JTB as soon as you plan your visit. (Two months prior to your visit would be ideal!)


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How to buy tickets outside Japan Entrance to the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka is strictly by advance purchase of a reserved ticket which specifies the appointed date of the reservation. You can get reserved tickets at designated local travel agency counters in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, North America, Europe and Australia. Method of purchase In addition to purchasing tickets at JTB International (Canada) Ltd., reservations can be made by telephone or email. * For details, please contact JTB International (Canada) Ltd. Type of ticket Reservation ticket (admission voucher) with designated admission date. *Reservation ticket will be issued by JTB.

Ticket prices (tax included) CAD $13.00 Adult (Age 19 and over) CAD $ 9.50 Youth (Age 13–18) CAD $ 5.00 Child (Age 7–12) CAD $ 1.50 Child (Age 4–6) *Children under 4 are admitted free of charge. *Transaction fee of CAD $5.00 + tax per ticket will be charged. Information Ghibli Museum, Mitaka Address: 1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi,Tokyo, 181-0013 Website: How to get there? Take the JR Chuo Line to Mitaka Station. Approx. 20 min. from Shinjuku Station. From the Mitaka South Exit, approx. 15 min. walk along the Tamagawa Josui “Waterworks” to the museum. A community bus can be taken from Mitaka Station to the museum.


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Talking Japan in Toronto Interview

Uncle Tetsu Light, delicate and freshly baked, Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese-style cheesecakes are winning over Torontonians. No matter how long the line is, you won’t be disappointed.


ave you seen the endless lineup at Bay and Dundas Streets? Crowds have been gathering in hopes of getting their hands on some cheesecakes and madeleines from Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake shop. Its grand opening was on March 18, and the lineups haven’t let up since. This is the popular Japanese cheesecake franchise’s first venture into North America, and at its opening event the founder, Tetsushi Mizukami—a.k.a. Uncle Tetsu—was there to serve up his cheesecakes stamped with their trademark caricature of his face. “We have only three small ovens,” says Tetsu, who is amazed by the overwhelming welcome from Torontonians. At $10 a cheesecake, the price is very reasonable, but there’s no compromise on quality. “We are committed to offering the freshest products. You can’t have the same quality in mass production. Although we can only produce a dozen at a time, it is important for us to serve homemade cheesecakes.” At the Uncle Tetsu shop, his cheesecakes are packed while they are still warm and passed right to the customers. Because of the shop’s commitment to old-fashioned, home-style cakes, customers often spend over an hour lined up out the door. However, if the shop’s popularity is any in-


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dication of great taste and quality, it’s clear that these cheesecakes are worth the wait. So, why Toronto? After starting out in Fukuoka, Japan, Uncle Tetsu has grown to more than a hundred stores in Japan and throughout Asia, including countries like Taiwan, China and Singapore. What’s more, these little cakes have gained a cult-like following—nowadays, they’re even considered the default midnight snack for children in Taiwan. With that amount of success, it was time to take the next step: North America. But Tetsu did not want to begin with the obvious places like New York or Los Angeles. He was looking for a place that would really suit the home-baked charm of Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecakes. “Toronto is an Idainaru Inaka” (偉大なる 田舎), Tetsu says. “I fell in love with Toronto.” In other words, he loves how our city, despite its large size, holds on to a feeling of intimacy and comfort. “I will be back to Toronto again soon,” says Tetsu, making a funny face for our camera. The Japanese-style cheesecake isn’t as sweet as the typical Western cheesecake, but its creator is a very sweet man, happily posing with his customers as they take selfies. “I am hoping to have more stores in Toronto in the near future,

as well as one in Vancouver.” Soon, the cheesecakes carrying Tetsu’s likeness will be a favourite for Canadians across the county.

Uncle Tetsu Born in 1948, Tetsushi Mizokami was obliged to help his parents with their sweets business from the very young age of just five years old. In 1985, Tetsu created his supersoft, rich and flavourful cheesecake in his hometown, Hakata. It has spread throughout Japan faster than he could have ever imagined, and now he wants to bring his cheesecake to the rest of the world.

G O Let's

llearn earn

' I H O ' G O

easyJJapanese apanese

What to say in a ramen restaurant After you’re greeted at the door of the restaurant (irasshai mase, いらっしゃいませ), you’ll be presented with a menu featuring several types of ramen. Take a seat, practice some Japanese (Nihongo, 日本語) and enjoy a delicious meal!

Intermediate This one, please.

Customize your ramen with all sorts of delicious additions: a boiled egg (tamago, 卵), bean sprouts (moyashi, もやし), corn (kͻn, コーン) or fermented bamboo shoots (menma, メンマ), for a start.

これ ください。

&(/""'( Kore kudasai. * While pointing at the item in the menu.

Prepare the thin noodles firm (al dente), please.

細麺、 バリカタで お願いします。 With nori and BBQ pork, please.

Hosomen, barikata de onegai shimasu.

のりとチャーシューを 追加してください。

Beginner Kudasai (ください) means please. You may also point to a bowl of ramen that someone else is eating and say “are kudasai” (あれ ください, that one). Just make sure to point at the food and not at the person—that’s considered rude!

Nori to chȊshȻ wo tsuika shite kudasai.

Advanced There are numerous varieties of noodles used in ramen restaurants: soft (yawarakame, 柔かめ), regular (futsu, 普通), thick (futoi, 太い), thin (hosoi, 細い).... Add extra noodles, too (kaedama, 替え玉).

Compiled by Nina Lee. Brought to you by the Toronto Japanese Language School | | @tjlsca |

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What’s happening?

May 2015 Events > Festival Accès Asie returns for a fourth year with its outdoor event Wind of Asia. Dancers gather together and perform classical Indian dance to innovative Iranian music. On Saturday, May 23, Japanese Canadian dancer Rie Sasahara will perform her Taiko Fusion, a graceful and powerful combination of baladi and taikos (Japanese drums). Next Music from Tokyo vol. 7 Friday, June 12 & Saturday, June 13 (Toronto), Monday, June 15 (Montreal), Wednesday, June 17 (Vancouver) | $10 in advance, $15 at the door More info: > Tokyo secretly harbours what is arguably the most exciting music scene in the world. Next Music from Tokyo hand-picked some of the bands from Tokyo’s independent and underground music scene, and organized two shows in Toronto and one each in Montreal and Vancouver. This year’s lineup will consist of the following bands: Owarikara, mothercoat, otori, PENs+ and Atlantis Airport.

Kampai Toronto—Sake festival

Scotiabank Buskerfest

Kampai Toronto is the largest sake festival in Canada, showcasing over 120 of the best sake produced in Japan and North America. Every grade and style of sake will be presented, along with a myriad of appetizer-style foods courtesy of local restaurants in Toronto.

Thursday, August 27–Sunday, August 30 Voluntary donation | Downtown Yonge St. neighbourhood (from Queen St. to College St., Yonge-Dundas Square, Trinity Square Park and Gould St. on the Ryerson Campus) More info: toronto > Come out and enjoy North America’s largest street performer festival! It is organized by the local charitable organization Epilepsy Toronto. Over 120 of the best street performers in over 50 acts from across the country and around the globe, including Japan, will bring their world-class talents to Canada’s most populous city. There is no advance performance schedule for the festival, rather spontaneity is the order of the day. You just never know when and where someone is likely to pop up! But, rest assured, all the performers conduct numerous shows throughout the weekend, so you’ll have a lot of opportunities to catch your favourite acts.

Thursday, May 28, 6:30 pm–9 pm | $80 Regular ($70 Advance, available until May 21) The Historic Distillery District, Fermenting Cellar, and the Thompson Landry Gallery (28 Distillery Lane, Toronto) | More info:

Exhibitions Poster Exhibition: Getting the Big Picture in B-Zero Until Tuesday, June 30 | The Japan Foundation, Toronto (131 Bloor St. W., 2nd floor of the Colonnade, Toronto) | More info: > Designing for the B-Zero paper size (103 cm × 145.6 cm) is the most challenging and rewarding task for graphic designers. Exactly double the standard B1 poster size, these expanded posters are designed to dazzle commuters at subway stations. In addition to their function in advertising, B-Zero posters are also used for artistic purposes, with original posters created for display in exhibitions. B-Zero masterpieces by such creators as Ikko Tanaka and Shin Matsunaga will occupy the walls of the Japan Foundation gallery.

> Now in its fourth year, this film festival showcases the finest Japanese films that have been recognized for their excellence by audiences and critics. Among the 18 films are North American premieres of major Japanese films.

Performances Festival Accès Asie Wind of Asia at the Quartier des Spectacles Thursday, May 21–Saturday, May 23 Esplanade de la Place des Arts, Église du Gesù (1200 rue de Bleury, Montreal) More info:

Kiyoko Suizenji Enka Concert

Toronto Japanese Film Festival Thursday, June 11–Friday, June 26 I $12 Regular, $10 Member | Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (6 Garamond Ct., Toronto) I More info: www. 32

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Courtesy of Festival Accès Asie


Concert details to be announced. Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (6 Garamond Ct., Toronto) > Some anime fans have heard of the famous song 365-Step March that appeared in Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. The singer of this song is coming to Toronto. Kiyoko Suizenji is one of the leading Enka singers in Japan. Her career spans over 50 years. Enjoy her Enka-style singing at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.

Where Canadians can go to celebrate Japanese culture

Other Deviant Desires: Erotic Grotesque Nonsense in Japanese Horror Films Wednesday, May 13, 9:15 pm | $12 in advance, $15 at the door | The Royal Cinema (608 College St., Toronto) | More info: > The interwar years in Japan were a time of rapid modernization and social change. It was also a time of economic hardship and, as the fascists rose to power, increasingly repressive politics. During these difficult times, a popular cultural phenomenon, “ero-guro-nansensu” (or, “eroticgrotesque-nonsense”), flourished. This lecture will focus on five films, three of which are adaptations of Edogawa Rampo stories. It is Rampo who best captured the darkly erotic and transgressive spirit of “ero-guro,” and his legacy has lasted until present day Japan.

The 7th Annual Sakura Gala 2015 Saturday, May 30 I $500 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (6 Garamond Ct., Toronto) I More info: > The Sakura Gala is held annually, recognizing contributions made to the promotion of Japanese culture. This year’s honorees are acclaimed authors Haruki Murakami and Joy Kogawa. It will also feature performances by the vocalist Tatsuya Ishii and the drum troupe Nagata Shachu.

Kawasaki Ninja Experience Track Tour Monday, June 1, 12 pm–4 pm | Toronto Motorsports Park (1040 Kohler Rd., Cayuga, Ontario) More info: 416-445-7775, > Join Canadian Kawasaki Motors for the 2015 Ninja Experience Tour and feel the thrill of the track on a brand new 2015 Ninja. Sign up quickly as spots are limited! *A rider must be 21 years of age or older as of the date of the chosen demo ride and hold a current M2 licence or greater (or provincial equivalent) in good standing.

TalkxGenten Thursday, May 14, 6 pm The Japan Foundation, Toronto (131 Bloor St. W., 2nd floor of the Colonnade, Toronto) | More info: > This talking and socializing event will be inviting two guests to talk about their experiences in the field of journalism. Aimed toward young people looking to work in an international setting, it seeks to help people gain ideas for reaching their future goals by listening to others’ success stories.

Friday, May 15–Sunday, May 17 $50 3-day pass, $10 youth, free under five years old | University of Calgary (2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary) I More info: > Otafest is an annual anime conference that provides a creative outlet where people can show off the costumes, music videos and art they have created. It is a chance for fans to get together and celebrate their hobby, and to share their passions.

Honda Indy Friday, June 12–Sunday, June 14 | $50-175 2-day pass, free Friday general admission Exhibition Place (200 Princes’ Blvd., Toronto) More info: > Due to the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Games taking place in Toronto this summer, the Honda Indy, Toronto will come one month earlier. However, the outstanding lineup of racing is unchanged, including the Verizon IndyCar Series, Indy Lights, USF2000 and Pro Mazda. Returning due to popular demand will be exotic car racing in the form of the Porsche GT3 Cup and Robby Gordon’s SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks.

Powell Street Festival Friday, July 31–Sunday, August 2 Powell Street Area, Vancouver More info: > The Powell Street Festival is an annual celebration of Japanese Canadian arts and culture that features something for everyone, including dance, music, visual arts, martial arts demonstrations, an amateur sumo tournament, craft vendors, delicious Japanese food and much more.

Otakuthon 11th Asian Community Games

Otafest 2015

sportsmanship. Open to all Canadian communities. Opening ceremony will held at Centennial Park Stadium (256 Centennial Park Rd., Etobicoke) on Sunday, June 7 at 10:30 am.

Saturday, June 6 to Saturday, June 20 (weekends only) | Selected stadiums and school fields in Toronto and surrounding area | Free to watch *Fee required for participation | More info: www. > The Asian Community Games promotes and supports sports and cultural programs for youths and adults in Canada. The objective is to encourage and facilitate the development of good character, leadership, citizenship and

Friday, August 7–Sunday, August 9 | $35–55 Palais des congrès (201 Ave. Viger O., Montreal) More info: > Otakuthon is Quebec’s largest anime convention promoting Japanese anime, manga, gaming and pop culture. It is held annually for three days in downtown Montreal in the summer. Otakuthon’s programming consists of cosplay, vendors, an Artists’ Area, panels, workshops, game shows, anime video screenings, dances, karaoke and music concerts. The convention is the 10th-largest North American anime convention as of 2014.

MAY 2015


Styling tips

By Stephen Choi Beauty

Your new look awaits

Get a brand new style at Kamiya’s latest location Kamiya Hairdressing’s new and improved downtown location is now open. Compared to the previous location, their new spot on Victoria Street near Dundas Square is much quieter. Once inside, the atmosphere is reminiscent of hair salons in Japan. Not only do they provide detailed and attentive service, they also have many Japanese magazines so you can check the latest trends in Japan as you choose your new style.




Experienced Japanese stylists help you find the perfect style All of the stylists at Kamiya have firsthand experience from Japan. They are dedicated to finding the right style for each client through careful consultation, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Your new look is only a chitchat away.


MAY 2015

My goal is to understand the needs of the client through consultation and provide personalvide personal ized service.

I’ll do my best to meet the needs of the client. Please experience the Japanese skills that’s I’ve learned! earned!



stylist ylist

stylist list

Kamiya Hairdressing Downtown Location 220 Victoria St., Unit 101 TEL: 416-916-1868 Open daily 10 am–8 pm Uptown Location 5585 Yonge St., 2F Unit A | TEL: 416-226-4323

MAY 2015


Hit the books

By M Crowson Culture

The devil’s in the details

More from translator

Stephen Snyder Asura Girl by ǰtarȬ MaijȬ (舞城 王太郎)


Aiko lives a life of casual sex and violence, though she harbours a schoolgirl crush on her old classmate, Yoji. When murders and kidnappings begin, Aiko places all hope in Yoji….

by Kanae Minato A schoolteacher takes revenge when her daughter is murdered on school grounds.

Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa (小川 洋子)

Author info

Kanae Minato (湊かなえ) became an international bestselling crime writer with her novel Confessions (告白), and has published 10 additional novels since her 2008 debut. Stephen Snyder has translated works by Kenzaburo ͺe, Ryu Murakami, Miri Yu and Kafu Nagai, among others. His translation of Natsuo Kirino’s Out was nominated for an Edgar Award.

Kanae Minato, a former home economics teacher turned housewife, wrote her first novel, Confessions, in between the usual hum of daily chores. Published in 2008 to international acclaim, it was swiftly adapted into an Oscar-nominated film, and has been called “the Gone Girl of Japan” for its dark themes and sinister style. The 2014 English edition—crafted by translator Stephen Snyder—brings this psychological thriller to monstrous life, gradually unfolding a story that grows more spine-tingling with each page. Yuko Moriguchi is a middle school teacher and single mother to her 4-year-old daughter, Manami. Forced to raise Manami alone after her fiancé is diagnosed with HIV and the wedding is called off, Yuko’s one shining light is her happy, healthy daughter. One day after a teacher’s meeting Manami goes missing, only to be found hours later on the grounds of the school swimming pool in what police rule an accidental drowning. Yuko is devastated, but her grief is eclipsed by rage when she stumbles upon a piece of evidence suggesting that her daughter was murdered at the hands of Yuko’s own students. But since the killers are only 13 years old, she knows that, even if the case was reopened, they wouldn’t face any real consequences for their crime. Traumatized and 36

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The fates converge in these stories to weave an ominous web around each of Ogawa’s carefully depicted characters: an aspiring writer, a landlady, a surgeon, a cabaret singer and a craftsman.

vengeful, she resigns at the end of the year, but not before she tells the entire homeroom that two of their classmates killed Manami. Yuko’s rage-fuelled vendetta begins with her farewell speech, in which she calls the killers “A” and “B.” Despite the anonymous nicknames, their classmates quickly realize the students’ true identities, and Yuko’s speech sets off a series of chilling events that build to an explosive conclusion.

compelling—is the eerie sense of familiarity you get in those moments when they are human, when they’re simply boys at the arcade or the burger shop. Their anger is born of trivial adolescent snubs, hurt feelings which are compounded by strained home lives. Both boys have fraught relationships with their mothers—women who must be strong-willed to compensate for the boys’ fathers, who are absent in body or mind.

Each chapter introduces a new character’s firstperson account of the event, bookended by Yuko’s perspective. The killers, 13-year-old Shuya and Naoki, are misanthropes, one a friendless genius and the other a mediocre mama’s boy. Naoki is an impulsive foil to Shuya’s icy coldness, naïve where Shuya is cynical. Both seek out Yuko’s approval at different times and come away feeling slighted, like she’s failed the ideal of the sitcom teacher, a friend-mentor who will pal around and indulge their bad behaviour. Their resentment lays the groundwork for a single murder, but the consequences of their actions ripple out into the lives of their own families and everyone in their class.

The novel’s full of breathtaking cruelty, but what’s most horrifying is how these acts bloom, like the spot of blood from a pinprick, out of the minor wreckage of daily life. With this novel, Minato explores the hard truths of 21st-century living: the isolation of being a teenager, the prejudice and fear behind bullying, the conflicting pressures of being a parent or teacher, and the yawning gap between media and reality. As readers, we sense these characters struggling, but as quickly as we’ve identified a reason for all the violence, reason disappears. “I want to warn you,” as one character says, “against easy explanations.” Every confession in this story has a deceitful shadow, and each lie takes on a glimmer of truth. If that’s the case, the devil must be in the details.

Minato’s detailed portrayal of the characters’ twisted inner worlds will give you goosebumps. But what makes them so horrifying— and so

MAY 2015


Film focus

By James Heron Movie

The Vancouver Asahi score a solid hit An award-winning director and all-star cast tell one of the great Japanese-Canadian stories with reverence, humanity and gentle humour.

&(/""'( The Vancouver Asahi (2014) Directed by Yuya Ishii Starring Satoshi Tsumabuki, Kazuya Kamenashi, Mitsuki Takahata, Aoi Miyazaki, Ryo Katsuji, Yusuke Kamiji, Sosuke Ikematsu and Koichi Sato Screenplay by Satoko Okudera

© ‘The Vancouver Asahi’ Production Committee

Director Yuya Ishii and an all-star cast tell a powerful Japanese-Canadian story. Based on the true story of Vancouver’s Asahi baseball team in the 1930s, a source of pride and solidarity in a community facing much racism and prejudice.


he story of the Vancouver Asahi—an amateur baseball team formed in Vancouver’s Japantown by young Canadians of Japanese heritage in the 1930s—is one of the most compelling and emblematic pieces of Japanese-Canadian history. In their early days, the hapless Asahi regularly suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of their physically larger Caucasian competitors until the young Nikkei devised a strategy that transformed them into serious contenders. The strategy, called “brain ball,” focused on speed rather than power and left opposing teams confused, frustrated and often defeated. With their newfound winning streak, the team became a source of great pride and solidarity for a community facing much racism and prejudice. Sadly, the Asahi, and the entire Japanese-Canadian community, was soon to fall victim to the circumstances of war and terrible persecution by the Canadian government. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Japanese Canadians were branded “enemy aliens” regardless of citizenship, cultural upbringing or national allegiance. Their possessions, businesses and homes were seized—never to be returned— and families were divided and driven into cramped internment camps, ghost towns and work camps in the interior of British Columbia. 38

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The film leaves the audience with much to cheer about—and reflect upon.

In 2014, Japan Academy Award–winning director Yuya Ishii (The Great Passage, Sawako Decides) turned this tale into a major Japanese motion picture featuring a who’s who of top film stars. Satoshi Tsumabuki plays reluctant team captain Reggie Kasahara, Kazuya Kamenashi as his hot-headed pitcher Roy Naganishi, and Mitsuki Takahata—in the film’s standout performance—as Emi Kasahara, a student with first-hand experience of anti-Japanese prejudice whose passion for the team becomes a major rallying point. Scenes depicting the harsh realities of their lives in sawmills, fisheries and cramped living quarters are shrouded in rain and gas-lit gloom. The sun only seems to shine on the Asahi and their supporters when they take the field.

Asahi is an earnest, lovingly made film of great humanity and respect for its subject. Vancouver’s Japantown was carefully recreated in Japan; the settings are fleshed out with computer-generated Rocky Mountains, forests and ocean liners, with local American military personnel acting as extras in the crowd scenes. It is well-acted by a strong cast and contains some very moving scenes. The film is also very “Japanese” in tone—filled with coded silences and quietly underplayed scenes that might

otherwise have been employed as major “rah-rah” moments in a Western-style sports movie. Ishii also infuses the proceeding with his trademark gentle humour.

Asahi is not a perfect film, though, and Ishii falls victim to his own ambition and reverence for the material. He simply tries to do too much; Asahi is at times a history lesson, a buddy movie, a family drama, a sports film and a study of racial intolerance and the Japanese immigrant experience. As a result, the film tends to lose focus; major actors like Aoi Miyazaki are introduced only to be quickly relegated to mere stadium spectators. One feels that much has been left on the editing-room floor. These are minor complaints, though. While not quite a grand slam, Asahi is a solid hit that will leave Japanese-Canadian audiences with much to cheer about—and other Canadians with much to reflect upon. The Vancouver Asahi opened the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival where it received the Audience Choice Award. An entertaining and edifying retelling of an important Canadian story. The Vancouver Asahi’s Toronto premiere is scheduled at the Toronto Japanese Film Festival in June.

Memoir ࡔ ࡕ ࠕ

By Shelley Suzuki

I waited eagerly to hear about my children’s reaction. They loved it! However, reports of other friends’ bentos later trickled out: A-san had a Minnie Mouse bento! B-san had a cool Pikachu one! I thought they were referring to the container it was in, but, no — they were talking about the actual contents. I quickly Googled it and discovered a whole new world of bento making, the kyara-ben. They are truly the masterpieces of children’s lunches.

Illustration by Chieko Watanabe

Kyara-ben: Putting excitement into luncH

Forget not playing with your food! The lunchtime competition is heated when you’re making kyara-ben. With its beautifully laid-out compartments, the traditional bento box can already look like a work of art—but that’s nothing compared to kyara-ben, also known as the “character bento.” If you’ve ever attempted one of these edible creations, you’ll know that it takes time and meticulous effort to get it just right. As a kid, my bagged lunch at school consisted of a sandwich, a piece of fruit — uncut — and usually a thermos of juice and a couple of cookies. When I took this concept to Japan, the staff at the school where I worked formed a crowd around my desk, convinced I was going to starve from malnutrition and neglect.

Eventually, I saw what they were eating and discovered what the fuss was about. They had these colourful and nutritious lunches presented beautifully in a compact box. School field trips and track meets were especially important exhibitions of bento creativity. When I had children of my own, I sensed that there was some unspoken competition going on when it came to your child’s bento. I am not one to lose, so the challenge was on. I stayed up late preparing, then woke up at 5 am to complete the boxes and make sure their presentation would live up to Japanese judgment. Then I wiped the rice off of my face, popped a cherry tomato in my mouth and patted myself on the back.

Who knew that egg, cheese, ham, a few carefully placed vegetables and some seaweed could make Totoro, Hello Kitty and Spiderman? What child wouldn’t be thrilled to open up their lunch and find Olaf from Frozen staring at them in his rice-y goodness? Not only are they cute, they really do encourage and convince children to eat a variety of healthy foods because they are so appetizing. As a mom, it has been fun buying the neat colourful paper inserts, shape cutters and other bento products at the 100-yen store. I have enjoyed preparing cute pandas, smiley faces and even Ironman to get that desired squeal of pleasure from my children — or that coveted “Oooh!” when they lift the lid of the container and find what brilliant culinary creation I have laboured over. Although time-consuming, kyara-ben are well worth it and much more interesting than the traditional, boring sandwich. Rice and seaweed taste oh-so-much better when they’re shaped like a sweet bunny rabbit.

SHELLEY SUZUKI is a long-time teacher of English as a Second Language in Canada and Japan. She currently runs an English school via Skype and is pursuing a teaching career, or whatever other interesting opportunities may come her way. She appeared on the Japanese TV show Okusama wa Gaikokujin (My Wife is a Foreigner). She hopes to become a children’s book writer and illustrator when she grows up.

MAY 2015


Otaku corner

By Rudolf Reinhard Thi s you will b r bat last e tle




North 2015 Canada’s largest anime convention is finally here.

Dates and hours: Friday, May 22, 6 pm–2 am Saturday, May 23, 10 am–2 am Sunday, May 24, 10 am–6 pm Location: Toronto Congress Centre and the International Plaza Hotel (650 and 655 Dixon Rd., Toronto) Tickets: Friday or Sunday only: $35 Saturday only: $45 (sold out) *Children between 6–13 are half price. More info:

Take a piece home with you While the Dealer’s Room is the main draw, be sure to stop by Artist’s Alley. There’s tons of fan art, bookmarks and badges. Support starving artists!


f you haven’t heard of Anime North— either because you’re new to this wonderful world of Japanese otaku culture (welcome!), or because you’re just casually reading this section—allow me to explain. The word otaku literally means “your house” or “you” (polite) in Japanese, but it’s used in the same way we use the word “geek” in English. Every year, on the last weekend of May, thousands of anime and manga fans gather for an incredible weekend of photoshoots, contests, dance parties, concerts, gaming, panels and shopping for all sorts of otaku swag.

And, of course, the event brings out tons and tons of cosplayers— including yours truly. A Japanese word, short for “Costume Play,” cosplay basically means dressing up as your favourite character, be they from anime, manga, video games, comics or television. There are all sorts of cosplayers. Some opt 40

MAY 2015

to make their own costumes, carefully preparing months in advance, while some just buy a premade one off the Internet, possibly at the last minute (ahem, no shame in that!). Cosplayers can also be any age; I’ve seen a cute family of four-year-old Naruto ninjas, dressed by their mom, who was cosplaying as Kakashi. And whether they look like their character or not isn’t a big deal to most — it’s all for fun and for celebrating their love of otaku culture. While there are no official statistics, you can expect to see anywhere from a third to half of the attendees in costume. But whether you cosplay or not, don’t worry: you definitely won’t feel out of place. I imagine the reaction of the nonotaku just driving by the Congress Centre and seeing hundreds of costumed people walking around—it’s really a sight to see! Now, if this all sounds like fun to you, and you think you’d like to go … at this point, if you don’t have a ticket already,

you might not be able to get one easily. From its humble beginnings in 1997 at the Michener Institute with 600 attendees, Anime North has exploded in popularity— especially in the last five years. So much so, in fact, that in 2012 they had to implement an attendance cap of 20,000 people per day. Tickets can be bought at the door, but they often sell out online long before the event begins. You can start by checking their site and seeing if there are any tickets left. Good luck!

Events you can’t miss There are a lot of events happening over the weekend—far too many to list here! Some you can’t miss include: the skit contest, where cosplayers act out their favourite (or original) scenes; Nominoichi, a kind of flea market; and Anime North idol, where otaku belt out their favourite anime tunes! Among the special guests will be Chie Nakamura, a Japanese voice acress best known for the voice of Sakura Haruno in the Naruto series.

MAY 2015


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tory and culture behind Kaiseki so you can fully appreciate the experience.

Japanese dining series 1


What is Kaiseki?

The tea ceremony plays a huge role in becoming a specialized Kaiseki chef—but even the average diner can benefit from learning the ritual. Tea ceremonies involve all of the essential knowledge and skills of Japanese culture: starting from (obviously) the tea itself, then moving on to flower arrangement, calligraphy, using the tatami space and even handling antique dishes. Since Kaiseki meals will often use dishes from past generations, knowing how to handle these delicate antiques is essential. And while you won’t be eating the flower arrangement, this skill plays an important role in Kaiseki presentation: it pays homage to the season and provides the base for the presentation of all the dishes in the feast.

By Mark Hashimoto

Just over 15 years ago, back when Japanese restaurants mainly served sushi, an authentic Japanese fine-dining tradition was introduced here in Toronto. They call this tradition Kaiseki. But while it’s relatively new here, Kaiseki (懐石) dates back to over 500 years ago. Back then, the great tea master Sen no Riky΍ introduced the cuisine that had originated in the imperial courts to be served alongside the Japanese tea ceremony. The cuisine’s name, meaning “stone in bosom,” was derived from the practice of Zen monks who placed a warm stone in their robes to ward off hunger during long meditation sessions. This term can also be used to describe the feeling of “Hara-hachibun-me” (腹八分目), which means “stomach at 80 per cent full”—this is a healthy amount of fullness to enjoy after a meal, but achieving it is much easier said than done. A Kaiseki meal is made up of courses served in a particular order. These involve the season’s freshest ingredients, from the ocean and the mountains, to be prepared in a well-balanced and harmonious way that also celebrates the season. The end result is a meal that portrays


MAY 2015

culture through food and that can be appreciated using all five senses.

A Kaiseki meal portrays culture through food and is appreciated using all five senses.

While Kaiseki is often enjoyed for special occasions or important business meetings, don’t be shy: try using it as a way to impress your date. No matter what you decide, if you haven’t experienced Kaiseki yet, you’ll want to save up for it. The experience is definitely worth every penny. It wasn’t until I had gone to train in Kyoto myself, trying to understand the “Japanese Way,” that I finally began to understand what really goes into Kaiseki and the hospitality that is required for the occasion. And yes, Kaiseki really is an “occasion”—because, with all that goes into preparing such a fine meal, there comes a price as well. Ranging anywhere from $100 to over $900, this is definitely a meal that takes some preparation; you’ll want to understand the his-

Mark Hashimoto MC and television talent as seen on YTV and Disney’s Japanizi: Going Going Gong! He trained in Japanese hospitality in one of Kyoto’s renowned ryokan (Japanese inns) for three years before coming back to Toronto to assist with his family business, Kaiseki Yu-zen.


MAY 2015


saladennis! men sepaicfoaod m ra l This ra ty not your

embGrarcaeb a pint a your inn nd er pig.

StaffKaaththlhleeeee n

Pig out

at Kobo Nobu Organic meat, seasonal veggies, local wines —plus a few treats all the way from Japan? You’ll want to go all out at this Japanese cookhouse.


obu Yamada loves to talk about pork — and no wonder! As head chef and owner of Kobo Nobu, he enjoys sourcing his pork from a Mennonite farm just outside the city. From the cured prosciutto and pancetta hanging on the back wall, to the draught beer with its cute pig mascot, to the number of pork options on the menu, it’s clear which meat is bringing in the bacon. (Snort.) But it’s not all pork! You’ll also find an enticing assortment of other organic meats (including wild boar!), fresh seafood and locally sourced veggie options on the menu. I won’t admit how many dishes I devoured, but there were two clear standouts—one of which happened to be an old favourite from Japan, while the other was something entirely new.


MAY 2015

The tonkatsu (lightly breaded pork cutlet) is tantalizingly tender and oozing with flavour, its panko breading perfectly crispy with a satisfying crunch. On the unconventional side, the ramen seafood salad is a delicious twist on a familiar dish: this bowl of creamy noodles covered in seasonal veggies (including Okinawa’s famous goya, or bitter melon) and a daily seafood selection (shrimp, calamari and whatever’s fresh) is not soup. It might just be better than what you’re used to! If, like me, you want everything on the menu, simply embrace your inner pig and order omakase-style. At only $28 for a three-course meal, which includes an app, main dish (meat or seafood) and dessert, this option is a steal. Why not leave your dinner in the hands of a

O Ha O’H agan

Kaa hleen spent years cho Kat wing down in JJapan, and once even she d a tear while eating exceptionally goo d grub. Known as a “sushi snob” among friends, Kathleen is one of those ann oying people who believes food is w art and enjoys cclogging your news feed cl with food pics. Currrrently, she lives and C eats in Toronto. www.kathleenohaga

master? Selecting only the freshest ingredients, Nobu will treat your tastebuds to a wonderful surprise! When it’s time for dessert, consider yourself lucky if you get the cheesecake soufflé. No matter how full you are, you’ll have room for this light and tasty ending to your night. With all this fresh and inventive fare —at prices that are almost too reasonable — I wasn’t surprised to learn that most of Nobu’s customers have been coming to his restaurant’s original location (Kobo) for 20 years. He’s watched the children of loyal patrons grow into adults ... and start bringing their own kids to continue the feasting tradition. Now that I’ve had a taste of what Nobu has to offer, I won’t be surprised if my future children are still coming back when they’re grown. Yup, he’s that good.

Kobo Nobu

Patio opening soon!

786 Broadview Ave., Toronto 416-519-2633 | Open: Tues–Thurs 11:30 am–2:30 pm UÊ/ÕiÃq-՘ÊxÊ«“q£äÊ«“ÊUÊœ˜ÊVœÃi`

MAY 2015


Ryus Noodle Bar

Free Topping *Please present this coupon upon ordering.

Don’t just read about great Japanese food and culture...enjoy them yourself! Try these coupons for deals near you.

Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya

Expires May 31st 2015

Ryus Noodle Bar serves the essence of current Japanese ramen culture. Its menu also features the Japanese favourite tsukemen (dipping noodles) and the soup is extra thick and made using plenty of dried baby sardines. 33 Baldwin St., Toronto | 647-344-9306 | "«i˜\Êœ˜‡->ÌÊ££\ää>“q£ä\ÎäÊ«“ÊUÊÊ-՘ʣ£\ääÊ>“q£ä\ääÊ«“

Don Don Izakaya

Free Topping 10 % Discount *Please present this coupon upon ordering.

Expires Jun 8th 2015

Ryoji Ramen is an Okinawan-style Izakaya in Toronto. They serve a vegetable ramen, so vegetarians can enjoy their delicious ramen too! You can also experience their unique side dishes. They have an Okinawa night, an event with a full evening of Okinawa culture, once a month. 690 College St., Toronto | 416-533-8083 | Open: Mon–Thu 5:00 pm q£Ó\ääÊ>“ÊUÊÀˆÊx\ääÊ«“qÓ\ääÊ>“ÊUÊ->ÌÊ ££\ÎäÊ>“qÓ\ääÊ>“ÊUÊ-՘ʣ£\ÎäÊ>“q£ä\ÎäÊ«“

Japanese Seafood Restaurant

Crab Harbour

10% Discount *Please present this coupon upon ordering.

Expires June 30th 2015

Crab Harbour, Richmond Hill’s new High-end Japanese-style crab eatery. Judging by the giant crustacean that denote the entrance. Patrons can choose to indulge in the prix fixe menu or opt for items à la carte. The former is a nine course ode to all things crab.

MAY 2015

The sounds of drums and the typical welcome cheer of “Irasshaimase!” are the first things you are sure to hear as you visit our highenergy setting at Don Don’s. “Don Don,” which signifies the sounds of Japanese drums, also means a place of ”more” ... a place of more drinks, more food and definitely more fun!

130 Dundas St. W., Toronto | 416-492-5292 | Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30 >“q{\ääÊ«“Ê­>ÃÌÊV>ÊÎ\ÎäÊ«“®UÊ ˆ˜˜iÀ\Ê-՘q Thu 5:00 pm–12:00 am (last call 11:00~11:30 pm) Fri & Sat: 5:00 pm–1:00 am (last call 12:00~12:30 am)

Tokyo Acupuncture and Shiatsu Clinic

$10 off

with regular session(55min)

*First time visit only. *Cannot be used with any other discount coupons. *Mention this coupon when you schedule your massage session.

Since 1991, Tokyo Acupuncture and Shiatsu Clinic has provided various types of treatments and advices to alleviate symptoms and improve natural healing abilities including Japanese-style Shiatsu, Japanesestyle Acupuncture, Swedish Massage, Reflexology and Moxibustion. We are here to help you maximize your own body’s ability to maintain and improve your health. 280 West Beaver Creek Road, Unit 38, Richmond Hill | 905-731-5570 | Open: Mon–Sun: 11:30 am –11:00 pm


*Only dinner time. Cash payment only. *No alcohol included. *Please present this coupon upon ordering.

2350 Yonge St., 2nd Fl., Toronto | 416-488-8414 | Open: Mon– Fri 10:00 am– 8:00 pm Sat: 10:00 am–È\ääÊ«“ÊUÊ-՘\Ê££\ääÊ>“–5:00 pm

MAY 2015




We’re honoured to have received so many years of recognition from the IIHS,

Subaru has just been named 2015’s Top Mainstream Brand in Canada at

because it’s considered the most trusted institution in North America when

the ALG Residual Value Awards *. It proves what Subaru drivers have known

it comes to automobile safety. And there’s nothing more important to us

all along: A Subaru holds its value better than all other mainstream brands

than that. All-Around Safety has always been at the core of what we do, and

in Canada. And it’s just one of Subaru’s five ALG Residual Value Awards,

Subaru’s reliably advanced safety features — like Symmetrical AWD and EyeSight®† technology — prove it. And so do our IIHS awards. For all models. Six years straight. There’s safety in those numbers.


including four firsts in their categories for the Outback, Impreza, Legacy, and BRZ. No surprise, considering 97% of Subaru vehicles sold in Canada over the last 10 years are still on the road today ‡. Now that’s value.


We invite you to learn more at

†EyeSight® is a driver-assist system, which may not operate optimally under all driving conditions. EyeSight® is not designed as a substitute for due care and attention to the road. The system may not react in every situation. The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors such as vehicle maintenance, weather and road conditions. Finally, even with the advanced technology activated, a driver with good vision and who is paying attention will always be the best safety system. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations. *ALG is the industry benchmark for residual values and depreciation data, ‡Based on IHS Automotive: Polk Canadian vehicles in operation and new registrations MY 2005 –2014 as of June 30, 2014.

Profile for bento box

051515 bentobox  

Bento Box Magazine, a Toronto-based Japanese New Concept Magazine launched in March 2015, is a publication that strives to provide fresh and...

051515 bentobox  

Bento Box Magazine, a Toronto-based Japanese New Concept Magazine launched in March 2015, is a publication that strives to provide fresh and...