Miya on Social Media

Have you had a chance to check out our Instagram feed?  We have two accounts actually – @miyacompany is the company’s main account with product images from us and from our customers and retailers.   We love to see how everyone uses our products!  They’re not just for sushi and noodles!  Although we won’t hate you if you use it for your favorite Japanese food…

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Our second Instagram account is @ms.mooniverse.  This one is my account that I use for a little behind-the-scenes at Miya, our family business.  Just getting started on this one but if you’ll join me, I hope we’ll have a lot of fun together!

 

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How Green is Our Juice…

For the past 2 years, Bob and I have been making green juice for us and our kids daily.  It wasn’t easy getting the girls to drink it everyday but it wasn’t that hard either.  Once they realized that we meant business, they kind of had no choice but to go with it.  Yes, we revoked (or at least threatened to revoke) some privileges if they didn’t have their juice for the day.  After a while, they realized that it wasn’t so bad.  In fact, our oldest, who is now 12, looks forward to it every morning.  If we miss a day, she is not happy about it!

We talk about it a lot to our friends and family – so much so that we think Bob has been influential in at least 5 family members buying a juicer and starting their own juicing expedition.  Not sure if everyone was able to maintain it but they tried.

So, now this has trickled into our work life.  Since everything else about our business seeps into our family life and vice versa, we have started a Miya Green Juice Program.  It’s a voluntary thing for our staff where everyone has to chip in their time and $1 per day for a healthy 8 – 10 oz. of green juice a day.  Everyone will rotate either buying the ingredients (paid for by Miya), prepping, or juicing/clean up.  We’re doing a trial run to see how it goes but I hope it lasts.

So far, everyone seems excited about it.  I think we are lucky in that pretty much everyone on our staff is fairly healthy to begin with and would not be opposed to taking it to the next level.

Our juice contains: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, apples, celery, carrots and lemon.  The great part of our juice as opposed to some of the commercial juices on the market is that it’s not as sweet.  I find that most off-the-shelf juices are so sweet as if to try to mask the taste of the greens.  We like the greens!

We encourage everyone to try your own mix of vegetables.  I don’t know that any of us really get those 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day but this is a great way to try to reach that goal.

Kampai!

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Miya’s Kitchen – Chicken Stir Fry

What good are beautiful dishes without great food?  It’s like a gorgeous dress with no one to wear it.  So I say, put on that gorgeous dress and make some yummy food!  (or wait till after you’ve cooked something to put it on because aprons can be liars.)

We thought we would include some recipes that we’ve actually tried and share them with you.  We don’t create any recipes, mind you.  We’re foodies but we’re not chefies.  But we can tell you what we like and then put them on our plates to show you that you too can be just like us!  I know!  It’s incredible!! :-)

My trusty sidekick, Yoko, brought us a recipe called Chinese Stir Fry with Eggplant and Peppers that is adapted from one she found on a Japanese website .  Can you guess what ingredients we would need?  Yes, Chicken, Eggplant, and Peppers….  It’s a genius name.

CHINESE STIR FRY WITH EGGPLANT & PEPPERS
(serves 2 – 3 people)

Chicken-Stir-Fry#1INGREDIENTS:

1 skinless boneless chicken breast (7 – 9 oz.)
1 large green bell pepper
1 small eggplant (9 – 11 oz.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or substitute potato starch)
canola oil (or oil of choice for cooking)
salt for seasoning
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Marinade:
4 tablespoons cooking sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons mirin

DIRECTIONS:
1. Wash vegetables and cut chicken, bell pepper and eggplant into bite-sized pieces.
2. Let chicken pieces sit in Marinade for at least 5 minutes.  The longer the better!
3. Remove from marinade and sprinkle starch on chicken.
4. Heat oil in pan and add chicken, cooking at medium heat just a couple of minutes on each side till no longer pink.  Remove from pan
5. Add eggplant to the remaining oil (add more oil if needed) and stir fry at high heat for 1 – 2 minutes.
6. Add peppers to pan with a dash of salt.  Cook at medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes.  We like the peppers to maintain a little crunch!
7. Add cooked chicken back to the pan and add Sauce.  Combine thoroughly and bring to a boil at high heat.  8. Serve on a beautiful plate that equals all the effort you’ve made slaving over a hot stove.  Add a drizzle of sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.  ENJOY!

Featured Bowl: Sendan Tokusa 6″ diameter bowlC553#2This versatile bowl is perfect for serving up some stir fry!  The Sendan Tokusa series features a beautiful and intricate take on the traditional Tokusa design.  Blue lines radiate from the center of the of the bowl that reach out to the rim.  The details on this pattern are impeccable and perfect for any table setting.  A design favorite!

So this is how you get things done…

So, this is what happens when I tell Yoko, our Marketing Assistant, that we need some food shots of our tableware.  She goes to the yummiest Japanese restaurants in the area, orders a chirashi-don and sweetly asks if they can put it in her special bowl.  And if you’ve eve met Yoko, you would know why people say yes to her.  Totally cute and sweet.  That’s how you get things done.  A little bit of savvy, a dash of ballsy and a whole lot of sweetness and smarts.  She took the picture at the restaurant and then photoshopped the restaurant part out to get this.  Nice job, Yoko!  My only complaint is How come you didn’t bring us back any?? :-)  Thanks to Josho Restaurant in Somerset, NJ for the beautiful food!

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Big Hero 6 and Why I Shouldn’t Give Up My Day Job

I did not know very much about this movie at all before seeing it with Bob and our girls this past weekend and it’s probably a good thing, too, since no preconceived notions and expectations usually equals a more enjoyable experience.  And since, I’m far from being a professional movie critic (although I did ace a couple of film appreciation classes in college, thank you very much), I will refrain from trying to dissect the elements of this fun movie.  Oops, if I call it a “fun” movie, does that mean I just reviewed it?

I must admit I was a little distracted by the visual elements throughout the movie.  This fictional futuristic fusion city of San Fransokyo is a hybrid of San Francisco and Tokyo.  It’s a much grander version of many urban areas with Japanese enclave communities – San Francisco’s Japantown, Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, NYC’s East Village, Vancouver’s Japantown, for instance, just to name a few.  The architecture, the people, the signage all made for a very interesting place which I would probably highly rate on Tripadviser.  For “A Tour of ‘San Fransokyo,’ the Hybrid City Disney Built for Big Hero 6,” click on the image below.

A Tour of 'San Fransokyo,' the Hybrid City Disney Built for Big Hero 6

So, as I said, I was a bit distracted with all the fun elements of this city – the Lucky Cat cafe that had cute maneki neko images dotted throughout including a noren at the entrance, the daruma that I spotted in Hiro’s room, the donabe that looked very much like one we carry that held the cash prizes for Bot Fight winners, and the aforementioned fusion architecture and signage.

I was watching this movie, trying to keep from bawling over the storyline while simultaneously trying to keep from giggling at my youngest who actually IS bawling, and the recurring thought in my mind was, this would be a great city for selling Miya Company products!

This is a type of disease, by the way, that I can only describe as an occupational hazard – I’m not enjoying the storyline as deeply as I could because I’m lost in thinking I’d love to sell Aunt Cass some mugs for her cafe!  This is the same disorder that compels Bob and me (and many of our friends and family members) to instinctively look at the underside of dishes and bowls in almost any retail store and Japanese restaurant to see if it one of ours.

I can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD just so I can pause it to see all the details of the different elements!

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Big Hero 6 Movie Screenshot Aunt Cass Maya Rudolph

In any case, I loved that there was a mix of girls/boys as superheroes!  Loved that my girls could see there were female engineers/scientists/brainiacs!  Loved that they could also kick butt!  Loved that creativity was encouraged and celebrated over bot fighting!  So, yes, Big Hero 6 is a Must See!

As in, I must see it again because I lied, I was actually bawling as much as my 7-year-old and the sound of our combined sniffling kept me from hearing a lot of the movie…

For actual reviews of Big Hero 6, check out Rotten Tomatoes.

Spaceship Earth, Anoles and Selfies

Made my way to sunny Florida a couple of days ago.  I left my home in New Jersey at 5:15 in the morning in 30 degree weather to get to Newark for a flight to sunny Florida!  Florida promised 85 degree days and meetings with customers.  Both of which could either end in warmth and joy or overheating and sweating…  But fear not, as I have much confidence in our beautiful selection of products and our service that it could only go well.

But customer meetings aside, I managed to spend some time at Epcot Center and specifically at the Japan Pavillion.  This place is so fun.  Just walking around the Pavillion gates was great, enjoying the smell of something being fried – could it be potato-fry? ebi-fry? tempura? some sort of tako-yaki??  Whatever it was, it smelled so good.

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If you’ve ever been to the Japan Pavillion at Epcot Center, you must have visited Mitsukoshi, the famous Japanese department store outpost, filled with almost everything Japanese that you can imagine.  Hello Kitty?  check.  Transformers? check.  Pocky? check.  Kimono?  check.  Umbrella shaped like a samurai sword?  Well, yes, they have this and I must say, I definitely could not have imagined that but there it is!  Kinda cool.

And of course, Miya tableware…  What can we say?  Mitsukoshi has good taste.

I knew I would get some great backdrops for pictures and instead of taking a bunch of selfies (because no one needs to see that and grown women sound weird saying “selfie”) I thought I would use my cute Little Red Riding Hood figurines to help me make things a little more interesting.  I’ve been carrying these around with me lately.  So while I’m too grown to use the word, “selfie,” I seem to have no issue carrying around little figurines to photograph for my amusement.   I don’t understand it either, don’t worry.

DSC00079So here’s Little Red sketching Spaceship Earth.  She could get stepped on at any minute as it was a particularly crowded October day oustide Mitsukoshi but she’s an artist and she doesn’t mind suffering.

DSC00084Here she is calling out to someone with Spaceship Earth behind her.  Who’s she calling?

DSC00088She’s calling the little lizard by the gate.  Apparently this is called an anole and they are chameleon-like.  Can you see it?  Red spotted it right away and wanted to play.  If I were her, I would have run screaming the other way considering I am only slightly larger than the anole but Red’s a bit daring.  She’s wearing this very showy red hoodie in 85 degree weather after all.

That anole, by the way, must be so used to people, living in Disney World, that he did not even budge as I took a gazillion pictures of it.  Squirrels in the city are sometimes like that.  They sometimes eyeball you and size you up and you just know that if they could talk, they’d say, “You talking to me?  Are YOU talking to ME??!!”  Tough city De Niro squirrels.  Scary things – right up there with those creepy city pigeons…

I had to drive 3 hours to Boca Raton that night so I finally packed up my camera, my figurines, channeled my inner tween and took a selfie before I left!  Next stop – Morikami Museum!

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Ame Zaiku

On a rainy, chilly, cloudy afternoon, my family and I headed to Miya Shoji on 18th St in NYC.  Our friends at Miya Shoji invited us to see Candy Miyuki, the amazing Ame Zaiku artist, at their store.  So while the weather seemed dreary and our kids were tired and cranky, Candy Miyuki seemed to have brought her own sunshine and happiness that day inside Miya Shoji.

Ame Zaiku is the art of Japanese candy sculpture.  The artist uses a taffy-like substance made of sugar and corn starch and creates incredible sculpture usually in the form of amazingly beautiful animals and creatures.  My mother-in-law said that she used to see these artists at street fairs and festivals as a child.  So, for her, it was quite natsukashii (nostalgic).

Candy Miyuki (Miyuki Sugimori) performed for many years at Epcot’s Japanese Pavilion in Orlando.   She is one of only 15 formally trained Ame Zaiku artists in the world and the only woman.  She began as an apprentice with her grandfather, Kinura San.

It was pretty amazing watching her work.  She takes a ball of her taffy and begins kneading it and mixing it with the color that she needs.  Then she begins stretching out certain pieces and cutting with her small scissors.  As she cuts, she is also pulling on it achieving the shape that she wants quickly.  She has to work quickly or the taffy will harden.   She kneads, molds, stretches the taffy until an incredible creature is formed.   Then she takes her edible coloring to finish off the details.

It’s important to note that the taffy begins at 200 degrees and she uses her bare hands to quickly shape it before it hardens.  She mentioned that anyone looking to study this art has to go through about 20 rounds of callusing over their fingers in order to get to the point where they can even begin training.

Now, before you go running off to Miya Shoji to see her work, this was just a one time event for family and friends of Miya Shoji – we are lucky in more ways than one to be included in this group!

If you’d like to see Candy Miyuki in action, please visit our YouTube channel!

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Setsubun

           February, 3rd is the day that we celebrate Setubun by doing Mame-maki in Japan; throwing beans outside front door of your house and from the windows saying “oni-wa-soto”, which means “the demon is outside”.  Families then close the door right after they throw the beans so that the demons do not come back in and they start throwing beans inside the house while saying “fuku-wa-uchi”, which means “luck is inside”.

People in the past had believed that the beginning of a season was the easiest time for a demon to sneak into the house and cause problems.  So, Setubun was originally celebrated on the eve of every season.  It has turned to represent only the eve of spring since it’s the most important season after a New Year.

The types of beans that are thrown are soybeans.  The Japanese believed that soybeans carried good spirits within them, which fight off the demons.  Rice is also believed to have good spirits in them, however, since soy beans are bigger they are better suited to warding off demons.  Also the Japanese way of saying ‘bean’ is ‘mame’ which is similar to how the Japanese say ‘dispel demon’, “ma wo mesuru”.

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Demons represent bad luck which causes disaster, disease and poverty.  The place they live is kimon, which is the direction of cow and tiger according to the zodiac.  Because of this, they have cow horns, tiger teeth and wear tiger patterned pants.

Beans need to be fried before they are thrown and those fried beans are called fuku-mame (it’s literally fortune beans in Japanese) it should be put in front of a shrine or kamidana to be ready for the day of Setubun.  People who don’t have kamidana at their house might put them on a high place like the top of shelves/drawers with a white sheet of paper underneath.  After Mame-maki, we eat the beans (the number of your age plus one) wishing us luck for a new year.  Eating beans are also believed to get good fortune by getting power against disease.

New culture

Instead of doing Mame-maki, the new way that has been spread out Japan now is Ehou-maki.  Ehou-Maki is a long roll sushi with seven ingredients inside, associated with 7 good fortune gods.  In order not to miss any good fortune, the roll cannot cut with a knife.

This sushi is named after the way to eat. 1) Look at Ehou, the direction of the year (East-northeast in 2014),  2) Start eating with one big bite first while making a wish  3) Keep eating without saying anything until finished.

          This custom started as a local custom in some Japanese towns to celebrate Setubun, yet it’s been gradually gaining popularity over the years. The reason does not only because it’s fun but also because there’s no need to clean up like Mamemaki, where you have to pick up all of the beans in and outside the house. Many housewives prefer Eho-maki better since they can replace it as dinner dishes.