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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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.

Crepes!

Crepes!

What do you do on a snow day after a long day of sledding? It’s a family crepe party! We’re still working on our plating… But the crepe will be wrapped and then really, how it tastes is the only thing that counts! Strawberries, bananas, nutella, and sour cream mixed with a little sugar on top of crepes hot off the pan. That’s good stuff. Looking for more crepe filling recipes!

Post-Thanksgiving Post

It’s been a while since we posted anything on our blog!

The old saying about the cobbler’s children having no shoes is how I would describe our dishes at home.  We basically had the most mismatched group of bowls and plates one can imagine.  Why?  Because we bring home the samples, the leftover items from broken sets and the discontinued pieces that have been sitting around for years.  When Bob and I got married, I wanted to register for china but apparently, that would have been akin to Mr. Toyota buying a Mini Cooper to tool around town.

So for Thanksgiving, we decided to bring home some actual pieces that were not discontinued or mismatched so that we can show them off!  We spend so much time figuring out which pieces we want to add to our product lines, imagining what would go well in them and how great they would look together.   But then, we don’t really get to appreciate them until we’ve discontinued them and taken some pieces home.

So here are some of our current products being utilized in real life….

IMG_3842Our 9-year old daughter’s Deviled Eggs that she put on one of our Omakase spoons.   Not perfect but she’s 9!  Master Chef Junior, here she comes!

 

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Brie En Croute with raspberries on a Sendan Tokusa plate.  As you can see, I have not mastered the art of plating beautifully!

 

IMG_3845Cranberry Sauce still steaming in our Blue Post 5.25″ Bowl.

 

IMG_3847Some more Omakase items – Large White Serving Bowls.  (The Kimbap is from my mom –  in her own foil tray.  Apparently, she did not get the memo about using a Miya piece!  I mean, thank you Mom!)

 

IMG_3849Another shot of the Blue Post bowl and also the Sendan Tokusa serving bowl holding  Sweet Potato Mash (paleo style!)

Of course, we meant to take more pictures or our plates and bowls but it’s hard to keep a hungry bunch waiting while we try to line up the dishes and find the right lighting.  Luckily, there are a couple more holidays coming up where we stuff ourselves like there’s no tomorrow to show off some other pieces.

We hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday feast too.  Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Tanabata – July 7th

Did you pay attention to stars last night? If not, you missed out on the most romantic night sky of the year.

July 7th in Japan is called Tanabata (七夕).  This is the one night that you can see the two beautiful and bright stars, Vega and Altair, with the Milky Way as a backdrop. This legend originated from China and spread to Japan in the early Nara era.

Can you find two bright starts across the Milky Way?
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Can you find two bright starts across the Milky Way?

According to this legend, Orihime was the beautiful daughter of Tentai, the Sky King, and she dedicated every day to weave beautiful clothes for her father. As Tentai contemplated about his precious daughter’s future, he found a famous farmer in another village located on the other side of the Amanogawa River that be believed would be suitable as Orihime’s future husband. They fell in love with each other right after her father’s arrangement, but they stopped working hard like they used to as soon as they got married. After seeing the two of them slowly become less and less responsible, Tentai finally decided to separate them by putting them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa River and allowed them to meet only once a year on July 7th.

Amanogawa, is what the Japanese call the Milky Way and Orihime and Hikoboshi are represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively in this legend. According to the story, if it rains on this day, these two lovers have to wait another year before they can meet.

tanzaku
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a girl hanging tanzaku on bamboo leaves.

In Japan, there are many local festivals to celebrate these lovers meeting once a year. Many schools also offer events for the students by giving them time to write down a wish on a piece of paper called Tanzaku and hang it on bamboo leaves in hopes that their wishes would come true.

Tanabata Festival
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Tanabata Festival

You cannot help to look up other people’s wishes on bamboo leaves because there is a wide variety of wishes…from cute and funny to sad wishes:

image 4 "wish Orihime and Hicoboshi could meet tonight."
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“wish Orihime and Hicoboshi could meet tonight.”
image 5 "please give me big boos."
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“please give me big boos.”
image 6 "wish my dad would break up with that bad woman soon."
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“wish my dad would break up with the bad woman soon.”

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Image Sources:

1. http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/pi_hyarara2003/15577320.html

2. http://www.city.daito.lg.jp/photonews/1279609153474.html

3. http://duarcain.blogspot.com/2012/05/tanzaku.html

4. http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/aroamtic/9828772.html

5. http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/2ndorijin/diary/200807060000/

6. http://ameblo.jp/shikao-blog/entry2-10587054166.html

CPR AED Training for the Staff at Miya

Our fearless leader, Bob, had a pretty frightening experience a couple of weeks back.  He regularly plays basketball at an open gym in our town with other guys in the neighborhood.  It was business as usual a couple of weeks ago when one of the guys collapsed just five minutes into a game.

Most of the guys didn’t know what to do.  They pulled out their phones to call 911 but this guy needed help.  He wasn’t breathing.

Luckily, one of Bob’s friends knew CPR.  He quickly grabbed the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and got to work.  He administered CPR for 15 minutes until the paramedics came.  Bob felt helpless while this was happening but he was impressed with his friend’s quick thinking and action.  The paramedics thought that Bob’s friend saved this guy’s life.

So when we decided that we would put Health and Wellness as one of our company’s core values, Bob called his friend, Bob Stickel, at LifeSavers Inc.  LifeSavers is a training center with classes in CPR, Defibrillation, and First Aid.   Because health and wellness becomes rather useless if you’re dead.

They sent one of their wonderful trainers, Maryann, to our office and we all participated in a CPR AED training session.  Now we are all certified to administer CPR.  And we have an AED in our office just in case.  Knock on wood that we never need to but we should all be ready if we do.

Thank you LifeSavers!

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