Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis

Hasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis, yuzu umeshuDuring our stay in Tokyo we were lucky enough to have happy hour with Jess and her family. We drank yuzu umeshu (plum wine) cocktails and Jess made sukiyaki. Sukiyaki, made at the table in a Japanese hot pot, usually consists of meat and vegetables cooked in a broth of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Hasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis, sukiyakiHasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis, sukiyakiJess sliced up the vegetables and presented them beautifully, in true Japanese fashion. We had two types of beef, tofu, cabbage, leeks, burdock, two kinds of mushrooms, and noodles in our sukiyaki. Hasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis, sukiyakiJess browned the meat a bit first (on a pile of leeks!) Hasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis, sukiyakiAnd then she added the broth to finish cooking the meat. Hasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis, sukiyakiAnd then Jess removed the meat to make room for the pile of vegetables and noodles. Hasegawa Happy Hour at the Suzukis, sukiyakiMmmm…it was delicious. The beef was perfectly seasoned by the slightly sweet broth and the vegetables’s textures were the perfect complement. Naoto and I think a nabe pot and a table-top burner is in our future. I definitely think it would be a fun cold-weather activity with friends!

And, to add a little excitement to the evening, there was a sizable earthquake (7.8) that night off the coast of Japan! It was a little bit scary because it was so much more powerful and lasted a lot longer than the other tiny earthquake I’d experienced in Japan before. I just kept looking at Jess to see if she had any panic in her eyes. (She didn’t and she calmly turned off the burner in case things did get any scarier!) We turned on the TV to see that the subways had been briefly halted, but by the time Naoto and I left, everything was up and running like nothing had happened.

Whew!

Thanks for being such great hosts, Jess, Keiichi and Ethan!

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Spending the Yen 7: Kyukyodo

Kyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery storeLast year, Jess introduced me to Kyukyodo and I fell in love. Located in Ginza and just down the street from Itoya, Kyukyodo is filled with traditional Japanese stationery and paper gifts. The store opened in Kyoto in 1663 and moved to Tokyo in 1880 and it’s still run by the same family! Kyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery storeThe building is dark brick and very traditional looking, sandwiched between modern steel and glass towers in Ginza. Kyukyodo has only two floors dedicated to the shop: the main floor with all of the stationery and handmade washi gifts and the second floor with amazing (and expensive) calligraphy supplies and wall art.* We spent most of our time on the first floor, but I think the best part of shopping for stationery in Japan is that you can get some really fantastic stuff without spending a fortune. Kyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery, washi stickersKyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationeryI bought some really lovely letter paper. On this trip, if it had a hydrangea or a cat on it, I almost always bought it… The letter papers are gorgeous. The hydrangea paper is so thin its almost translucent and the kitty paper is lovely washi and the cat and Kyukyodo are embossed. I bought a greeting card with the same cat image to send to a friend for her birthday. Kyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery, washi stickersI also bought a few sheets of washi paper stickers. The sleepy kitty and “fist-bump” cats were obvious must-haves and the hydrangea stickers have a really pretty texture and delicate gold accents. Kyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery, washi stickersKyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery, postcardsAnd I bought plenty of these postcards to send to pen pals and to save in my paper collection. Wind chimes (top left) are a very big thing in Japan this time of year so I bought the cat postcard to remind me of the season. And I love that bottom right card with the pigeon and the Ginza Wako Clock Tower, which is right by Kyukyodo. I found this little video on YouTube where you can see the real clock tower:

Kyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery, washi stickersKyukyodo, Tokyo, Ginza, stationery, omiyage wrappingAnd, of course Kyukyodo has beautiful flat paper bags and will separate your purchases into the proper omiyage packages, one of my favorite things about shopping in Japan!

*I apologize that I didn’t take any interior photos, but it was very busy that day and I wasn’t sure of the rules. Itoya doesn’t allow photography in its store, so I wanted to make sure I extended the same respect to Kyukyodo.

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Happy 4th of July! 

  Here in the U.S we are celebrating Independence Day! Naoto and I are going to relax and garden a bit before we head into the city later to see the Cubs game and fireworks at Wrigley Field afterwards. (Wish us luck battling the crowds!) 
Happy 4th if you’re celebrating, happy weekend if you’re not. And to my letter writing friends, don’t forget there’s a Virtual Letter Social tomorrow, all day long, no matter where you’re writing from and a live video chat started at 3PM Central Time. Maybe I’ll see you there? 

Vintage Ice Tongs 

vintage walnut ice tongs, Hasegawa Happy Hour, vintage barware My parents came up to visit over the weekend and brought our anniversary gift. Part of the gift was these fantastic vintage ice tongs that they found in a vintage shop. Don’t my parents know how to score a vintage treasure? (And they know me so well…and Naoto, too, though he didn’t squeal like a school girl when he saw the box.)vintage walnut ice tongs, Hasegawa Happy Hour, vintage barware The tongs came in their original box, an added bonus. (And yes, I will totally keep the tongs in their box!)vintage walnut ice tongs, Hasegawa Happy Hour, vintage barware I love the Mid-Century style illustrations of cocktails on the handle. I think they are going to make a great partner with my vintage penguin ice bucket at our next Hasegawa Happy Hour!

Thanks, Mom & Dad! xo

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