Happy Donabe Life

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Letter from Aomori

September 17, 2019

I got an email message from Oyu-san, a wood craftsman from Hirosaki City in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. His popular Triangle Ichirin Flower Vase has been out of stock for many months, and he said they are now finally complete and ready to ship to LA! So, for those who have been waiting, please stay tuned…they will be back in stock very shortly.

In the email, he included a photo of the vase stands which were just complete for us. Every piece is carefully made by Oyu-san’s hands, so it takes time to finish all our orders. The photo included an apple which is a specialty of Hirosaki, and it’s just coming in season!

I really loved the photo, because I could also see part of his atelier (where everything is made) and it just felt very, very warm. The photo really showed Oyu-san’s kind personality.

He said Aomori is getting much cooler and the autumn has started. He also said the first harvest of this year’s apples are really nice.

Reading his message made me want to visit Hirosaki right away. Part of my blood is actually from Hirosaki City, Aomori, as that’s where my grandfather is from. So, even though I have never lived there, I feel personally connected to this northern most region of the main island of Japan. Aomori is a beautiful region with a lot of nature, and people with very warm hearts.

TOIRO Spring Festival 2018

March 11, 2018

Since we opened our brick-and-mortar shop last October, we hosted our first big festival on March 4 (Sun). We called it TOIRO Spring Festival. We offered spring theme menu to sample and celebrated the new season with people who attended. At the event, we had special guests from Japan, people behind Stork Rice, from Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture. Their rice is very special and we were so excited to feature Stork Rice at the event.

It was a day after Hina Matsuri (Girls Day in Japan), so we also had a traditional display of Hina Matsuri. It was a special kind Saori has taken over from her mother.

We are a team of 6 girls…Yuko, Hiroko, Fumi, Saori, Miki, and I. We prepared everything from scratch in our tiny kitchen. With 3 units of Kamado-san, we cooked so many batches of rice all day to make so many onigiri (rice balls)!

Hundreds of people showed up to the event to celebrate with us, learn and support the wonderful Japanese food culture. The shop was so packed the whole time and people kept coming in!!

Luckily, we had a handful of volunteers, including Miki’s sweet husband and daughter, Aria!

We were so happy to see everybody’s smile and also so touched by all the support we received by them. What a happy donabe event it was! We made almost 500 onigiri, and all were gone by the end!

I was having so much fun!!

TOIRO Spring Festival
Sunday, March 4
1 pm – 4 pm


Onigiri with Natural Stork Rice & Mochi Mugi Barley

Onigiri with Natural Stork Rice (Brown Rice)

-Tajima Beef & Dried Baby Sardine Condiment (Soy Flavor)
-Tajima Beef Furikake
-Walnut Miso
-Slow-Roasted Tomato & Smoked Soy Sauce
-Plum Salt & Salt-Marinated Cherry Blossom

Smoked Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Sansho & Daidai Citrus Vinaigrette

Steamed Vegetables with Shichimi-Flavored Black Sesame & Mayo Dip

Cream Cheese Canapé with Crystalized Shoyu & Katsuobushi

Matcha & Cherry Blossom Cookies


Organic Mecha (Young Shoot) Grean Tea by Jugetsudo
Matcha Latte with Almond Milk and Matcha by Jugetsudo
Kimino Yuzu Sparkling Yuzu Juice

After the event, we had a small wrap party with wine and donabe dishes at the shop in the evening.

More donabe cooking!

I feel so lucky to be in the same team with such amazing ladies and share the mission of bringing the wonderful Japanese food culture to people in America. The real girl power!

Happy donabe life.


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