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.
It’s April and it’s still cold… Yoko helps warm us up with her blog about ramen!
Ramen is one of iconic foods in Japan, which has different types of flavor and taste depending on the area. Sapporo ramen is a miso based ramen in Hokkaido (北海道), while Hakata ramen is a pork-based, tonkotsu ramen originating in Kyushu (九州).
In the past 5 years, tsukemen has become popular in Tokyo. Tsukemen is ramen served with soup on the side. How do you eat it? – Dip some noodles in the broth and eat! After you finish the noodles, add soba-yu (water you used to boil soba) into the soup and drink.
Although Tokyo-style ramen is actually a soy sauce based soup, people from all prefectures in Japan gather in Tokyo so many different flavors are available to its residents. If you want to try various regional specialty ramen in Tokyo, ikebukuro is the right place to go.
ikebukuro (池袋) is a commercial and gourmet district which is sometimes referred to as the ‘ramen battleground’ in Tokyo. ikebukuro station is one of the main commuter hubs and second busiest station in Japan. Both the west and east exits of the station are home to famous ramen shops. People are always standing in long lines in front of these famous ramen restaurants which exceed even the most famous ramen restaurants in the US such as ippudo in New York.
Some ramen noodle restaurants have automated ticket dispenser that entertain tourists.
This dispenser stands in front of the entrance of restaurants and customers can customize ramen by buying tickets for toppings as well as for soup bases such as miso-based, pork-based soup (tonkotu), salt-based, or soy sauce based. You also can see this dispenser is in curry or soba/udon restaurants.
Do you feel like visiting ikebukuro now? I know it’s hard to make a trip just for ramen, so what can you do? – Our ramen bowls bring you there!
From the left: J3021A, J3021B, J3021C, and J3021D.
Size: 6.75″ x 3.5″
updated March 2015: Don’t forget to check out the instructional video on our YouTube Channel!
We recently posted this picture of a hollowed out egg covered in origami paper that my mother-in-law, Masako, made for Easter. It seems there are a few folks out there that wanted to get the instructions on how to do this.
We tried recording the steps for our YouTube channel but it came out to more than 15 minutes. No one is going to want to sit through that! Although, it is sweet to watch Bob with his mom. So we will edit that version and have it for you shortly.
In the meantime, here are step by step directions with images for you to try. You can always watch the video too to supplement!
Eggs (White, Large eggs are best)
Small scratch awl (screwdriver with a point)
3 Bowls (preferably all from Miya) – one to catch the egg innards, one small one to hold glue solution and one to hold gloss varnish
Glue Solution – glue diluted with water (1:1 ratio). Elmer’s Glue is fine.
Origami Paper (15cm / 6″ square is best. Again, preferably from Miya…)
2 Brushes – one for the glue and one larger one for coating the egg with varnish gloss
Centimeter/Inch ruler (Take care to note when we use inches and cms for measuring!)
Dura Clear Gloss Varnish (or similar) for coating
1. Take a small scratch awl and tap carefully on the end of the egg. You want to hit hard enough to punch a hole but not too hard that the whole shell will break. It’s a fine line…. Tap, tap on it a few times and it should do the trick.
2. Tap the other side of the egg as well. Make the 2nd hole a little larger.
3. Hold your egg over a bowl and blow into the first hole. If the egg is not coming out easily, take your scratch awl and make the bottom hole a little larger.
4. After you have blown out all of the egg, take a small square of tissue paper (Kleenex) and place over the hole. Brush the glue solution onto the tissue over the egg and brush till it is smoothed out. You can use more glue solution to help make it smooth if necessary. Do the other end as well.
5. While the glue is drying, you can measure out the origami paper. Use the white side of the paper. Measure out 9cm from the edge on both sides, mark a line and then cut along the line so that the paper now measures 9cm x 15 cm.
6. Fold the paper in half lengthwise with the white on the outside. Your paper now measures 4.5cm x 15 cm.
7. Measure 1 cm from the folded edge and make a straight line across the length of the paper. Draw lightly as it will show through the final product if it is too dark.
8. Measure 2 cm from the other side (open edge) and make a straight line across the length of the paper.
9. Measure and mark 1/4″ increments along the line that is 1 cm from the folded end. Make similar 1/4″ increment marks along the 2cm line.
10. You will make 1/4″ incremental marks on the open edge as well but you have to start 1/8″ in. So first mark 1/8″ from the corner and then make 1/4″ incremental marks from there.
11. Connect the 1/4″ marks from the bottom edge line, starting at the 1/8″ start mark and connect them to the 1/4″ marks on the line above it. They will slant slightly.
12. Then connect the rest of the 1/4″ marks so that you complete triangles. It should look like this:
13. Connect the 1/4″ marks from the 1cm line to the 1/4″ marks on the 2cm line
14. Cut along the vertical and slanted lines. Make sure your paper is still folded in half so that you don’t have to repeat all this measuring, marking and cutting on the other side.
When you are done cutting and unfold your paper, it should look like this:
15. Brush some glue solution on one side of the hollowed egg. Place that side on the middle of your paper. Make sure that the tips of the paper (or “teeth”) reach the top and bottom of the egg where you originally made holes.
16. Brush glue on the rest of the egg and wrap the paper gently around it. If the paper is too long, simply cut off the extra paper. Overlapping on the side of the egg will make the final product bumpy. No one likes a bumpy egg.
17. Place more glue on the egg and attach each “tooth” of the paper one by one. You may have to tug gently at the paper in order to get it on smoothly. You can overlap the teeth slightly on top of each other. You want all the points to attach to the top of the egg. Brush on more glue if necessary. Then do the other side.
18. When you are finished gluing down your teeth, use the side of a pencil to gently smooth out any bumps. You may want to add a bit more glue solution to make the paper more pliable.
19. Place your smooth egg on a baker’s rack of a basket to dry. You don’t want to place it on a flat surface or the glue might make it stick and then you will have to do this all over again and there will be much sadness.
20. After the glue is dry, use your larger brush for the varnish gloss. You may need to coat this 2 – 3 times to get it as shiny as you’d like!
Enjoy your pretty eggs!
Here’s a quick view of the paper template:
With the leftover egg yolk and whites, make some yummy tamagoyaki! My friend, Arvind, recommends this video for that: Japanese Omelette
Have you ever heard of hanakotoba? It means the language of flowers. Much like how a man will give a girl a rose to say ‘I love you’, each flower has a different meaning in Japanese culture.
Long time ago, people in Japan used to make poetry, called Waka, to express their emotions and feelings to profess their love in a love letter or store their feelings in diary. Waka describing flowers and seasons are thought to be more elegant and more romantic. Though those customs were set by people in the past, the connection between people and flowers has transcended time and continues to have a strong presence in current day Japan. For example, children will give their mothers carnations, whose hanakotoba is ‘appreciation’, on Mother’s Day. It is kind of similar to the custom of sending people cards for specific occasions in the United States. Because each flower has a specific hanakotoba, many Japanese buy flowers instead of cards and just send the flowers to people instead of writing the message.
Below are some hanakotoba of some common flowers:
I love you – Rose
I’m into you – Peach
eternal love – Tulip
true love – Margaret
my eyes are only for you – Sun Flower
think of me – Pansy
beautiful heart, elegant lady – Cherry Blossom
love to mother, appreciation – Carnation
lady’s heart, sincere heart – Cosmos
perfect beauty, mysterious beauty – Gerbera
Yoko is our Marketing Assistant and here is her take on Christmas in her hometown!
Christmas songs from morning radio programs, bright decorations along the streets and storefronts, malls crowded with families and young couples … Christmas is coming soon! When this time of year comes around I begin to miss my hometown in Japan, where Christmas music, Christmas trees, bright displays in shopping mall, and sweet couples are all over the place. Even though the air outside is cold, these days are the most beautiful and warm of the year.
In December, one of the first signals that the holidays are coming are the Christmas themed commercials. KFC and Pepsi have commercials that feature original songs that always brings out the feeling of Christmas in Japan. Many TV and movie stars will also appear in commercials that celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
Besides, main cities start to wear bright and beautiful illumination, such as Roppongi (六本木), Yebisu (恵比寿), Omotesando (表参道), and Tokyo tower (東京タワー).
In Japan, Christmas is a romantic event for couples to spend time together since there are so many pretty and beautiful events out there. After work, they meet up in the city, and go shopping and have dinner with a glass of champagne.
Others will go out with their friends or co-workers in the evening to celebrate the end of the year through holiday parties or reunions with friends from the past. A popular place to hangout is at karaoke bars or other venues (maybe someone’s house as well) where people can relax and have a good time.
Others spend Christmas with family. Typical dishes around Christmas time are chicken and cake. They might have a whole roasted chicken for dinner plus some traditional Japanese dishes, and have Christmas cake for dessert. Picking out the Christmas cake is one of my favorite parts of Christmas in Japan since all the cakes around that time are really pretty and delicious. While we do all of these activities, Christmas in Japan is still not as big of an event as Christmas in America. Since Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan we do not get days off of work or school so instead of having big family reunions we try to just have our close family together for that day and give thanks to having one another. Children might get some gifts while sleeping at night. I remember my mom (oops, Santa Claus) gave me one pair of socks for Christmas and I cried loudly the next morning.
It may seem slightly different how people in Japan and people here spend Christmas. But if we look closer, while the way we celebrate might be different, both countries is still to spend it with the people you love the most. No matter how different the cultures and traditions are, the main purpose of Christmas is to spread happiness to all the precious people in your life.
There certainly is a lot to be thankful for this season. Hurricane Sandy became public enemy number 1 and made us realize how grateful we should be for the little conveniences that we take for granted.
We were very lucky that we sustained minimal damage especially since many people in the tri-state area are still without power or even homes. We only lost power for one week and although it seemed like it was a tragedy at the time as we were not able to run a business, ship orders or even keep warm, it was very much just an inconvenience for us. We had no flooding, no damage to the building or our homes and we still had water and gas to cook up hot meals.
After Hurricane Irene last year, we thought for sure Sandy would not be as bad as they were saying. Everything was fine until Monday evening when the power went out at home. Our power goes out frequently but this time, we saw 2 bluish green flashes in the sky from our window. Aliens? the end of the world?? or worse, power transformers blowing up???!!! Yes, it was the transformers. The wind was so strong that it felt like the windows were going to shatter. Many of our neighbors told me that they slept in their basements that night fearing that the worst.
In the morning, we assessed that only a few trees had fallen, a part of our fence had been broken and there was some roofing material that had come off but overall, it was minimal. We didn’t even realize the extent of the damage in the tri-state area as we had no access to the world outside of our town.
We learned that everyone from Miya was safe but that we had all lost power. We were able to get some news from our smart phones that lower NYC had flooded, parts of Staten Island and Queens (my home borough!), most of the Jersey Shore, parts of Long Island and Connecticut were all a mess. We stopped grumbling about our problems when we realized how good we actually had it.
By Wednesday, we thought, we had to do something – we were going to fall behind on all our orders since we could not pick, pack or ship anything. Rich, our UPS driver, was driving his route with an empty truck since all the businesses in the area were closed. So, we contacted the warehouse staff to come in to help try and figure this out. They worked by the open overhead doors in the warehouse as their source of light. It was cold but they were troopers. We were able to find flashlights that fit around the back of the neck so that it was like having car headlights. We didn’t go the coal-miner-light-around-the-head route although that would have been fun to see.
After 9 days, Miya was fully operational again with lights, heat, and most importantly, internet connection! Our customers were wonderfully understanding of all this craziness that delayed all of our shipments.
So yes, we are extremely thankful this year that we were able to make it through relatively unscathed. We realize what a blessing it is to have good people all around us – our staff, our customers and our community. Thank you to all of you who reached out to us to see how we were doing! Every year, we try to make a donation to a worthy cause and this year, we have made our donation to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy Relief.
We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving! We hope you all have a chance to spend some quality time with your friends and family this holiday season.
People often ask us, “What is this plate for? Is this a sushi plate? Is this a ramen bowl? What can I put on this?” Well, the simplest answer is that you can use various plates and bowls for anything and yes, you can eat sushi on our plates. Or you can have a hamburger on it. Or fries. Or turkey. Or Penne Alla Vodka (Giada makes a good one). Or paella. Or bulgogi. Or meatloaf. Or schnitzel. Or chana masala. The point is that you don’t need to limit the use of our products for Japanese food. Or even for food at all!
Let’s take, for instance, the small sauce dish. Made originally to hold sauce, as the name suggests, but it is also perfect for fancying up little hor d’ouevres for your next party. Martha, the original hostess with the mostess, has a great recipe for Chilled Tofu which are plated on little sauce dishes. Perfect.
I’m not sure where Martha got these cute sauce dishes but we used to have similar ones so long ago in a green color. Very cute but I believe they are now in the Museum of Miya Products, i.e., my mother-in-law’s kitchen. So instead, you can be inspired by our other sauce dishes here:
These sauce dishes range in size from 3″ – 3.5″ diameter, making them a great size for cubes of tofu or mini crab cakes! Try slivers of sashimi with sauce or deviled eggs. Smoked salmon on crackers with capers. Stuffed mushroom. Bacon wrapped scallops or shrimp! The possibilities are endless.
If you have been to a nice Japanese restaurant, small tsukemono (pickled vegetables) are often served on small dishes like these. Chefs like to use these dishes to serve small bites of something with a delicate flavor but also for bold flavors that pack a punch. Using these small dishes to showcase an hors d’oeuvre or a side dish is a wonderful way to remind your dinner guests to enjoy each morsel.
These dishes are also quite popular as wedding favors. They are great little dishes to hold chocolate or candy wrapped in cellophane with a pretty ribbon. Then the guests can take the dishes home. Or use them to hold votive candles on the table as part of the tablescape. Again, the guests can take them home.
Our customers tell us they also use them in guest bathrooms to hold pretty soap or votive candles. They line up 3 of them on a shelf or on the counter with the candles as decoration. They can also be placed on top of a coordinating rectangular plate to serve as a tray for the candles.
They are used in bathrooms or on dressers to hold rings and other pieces of jewelry. Use them when in the kitchen to hold salt or spices while you are cooking. You can even move them into the dining room so everyone can add their own spices.
Yes, they are called sauce dishes and they are most often used for soy sauce when you are enjoying your sushi. But be creative! Unleash your inner Martha!
If you have any recipes or ideas to share about using sauce dishes, let us know!
We love seeing all the beautiful products that come out of Japan. As much as we would love to import everything we love, it’s not always possible. So, I thought this would be a good forum to introduce some of the great things we come across.
We met the people behind Kirico at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center in May. They have beautiful products made from Paulownia trees. Aside from the products being as well made as they are, they are also made from a sustainable wood called Paulownia. According to their intro on the ICFF site, “Kirico (Kiri+Eco) specializes in using a Japanese traditional material, Paulownia wood, in the design of modern furniture. Because Paulownia trees grow in only 15 years, the wood has a reputation as an environmentally friendly material. This chair, which is made from Paulownia wood without any waste, may be the most eco-friendly chair in the world.”
The wood is lightweight, soft and warp-resistant. The tree is also know as the “princess tree” as it was planted upon the birth of a baby girl and then used to make chest as a wedding present when she married. It is extremely fast growing and it is able to regenerate once the tree has been harvested. It is being used around the world to help with reforestation. It’s a pretty big deal in the tree community….
Kirico also uses the Paulwonia wood to design interiors and create home accessories.
But not only does the Paulownia wood have all these great qualities, the Paulownia is part of the official government seal of Japan. In fact, it is even incorporated into the design of the official emblem of the Japanese Prime Minister.
The leaves of the Paulownia plant here, the 5-7-5 design of the leaves represent the democratically elected representatives of the Japanese Government. Is there anything this tree can’t do??!!
For more information about Kirico and their beautiful products, please check the ICFF website.