In this issue we bring you the basics of Japanese pottery and cheesecake in a cup. And then we cap off the issue with the fight to combat graffiti in Tokyo, a quick guide to family restaurants, and a virtual live video walking tour of the Shibuya and Nakameguro area.
Learn the Basics of Japanese Craft Pottery, Ceramics, and Porcelain
Japanese craftsmanship is remarkable. It’s even more impressive to watch while they work. There is just something magical about a master craftsman honing and shaping something into its final form in front of your eyes.
This guide by Tokyo Weekender brings you a great introduction to Japanese pottery. I especially like the vocabulary list first thing. It gives you a good overall sense of what’s in store.
Particularly doki (土器), which means earthenware (made out of clay). This is what the famous donabe is made from — as well as some of the most unique mug cups you’ll find anywhere in the world.
The article goes on to discuss the most notable yakimono, that is, the crafted wares (yakimono literally means baked goods). The one I found most impressive is #6 on their list, Hasami (from Nagasaki). It’s simple, elegant, and oh so cool.
“With 400 years of history and tradition, Hasami ware in Nagasaki Prefecture has prospered thanks to its pottery and porcelain production which includes a range of daily tableware.” (TokyoWeekender)
400 years of history is certainly a long time. I can only imagine the culture and traditions that have been passed down over four centuries.
Cheesecake in a Cup; A Mini Ikebukuro Itinerary
Yes, you read that right — cheesecake comes in a cup a this fun little cafe called CheeseTable in Shinjuku (there’s one in Ikebukuro too).
Check out the signature ice Honey Mascarpone flavor, a specialty of the shop. If it’s your first time at the shop ask about what they offer. The staff are friendly and have English-speaking staff.
“The cheesecake-in-a-mug is a popular menu item at CheeseTable and has continued to be changed and adapted to the seasons over the years. Until now it has only been available to drink cold, but for the first time they’ve introduced a hot option.” (MoshiMoshiNippon)
+If you go to the Ikebukuro location and are looking for something else to do while in the area, check out Namja Town in the Sunshine 60 Mall. It’s this excellent old-Japan themed area with great food, games, and things to see. Definitely try the gyoza here.
+There is a fantastic little Indian izakaya called Tomboy in the area too. I know Indian food may not be on your Japan to-do list, but if you’re a resident here (or on a long-is staycation), this place has some of the best Indian food.
- The fight to combat graffiti in Tokyo is real. While some can be considered art, where does one draw the line? Learn about Shibuya’s struggles with street graffiti. “Scrawled tags vie for space with colorful spray-painted characters on walls and shop-front shutters around the neighborhood, and are replaced with new ones almost as soon as city authorities clean them off.“ (Japan Times)
- Need some “famiresu” (family restaurant recommendations? Here’s a quick guide from Grape Japan covering five of the big family restaurant chains. “Many family restaurants are open for 24h, offer English menus, are usually affordable, and have a wide variety of delicious foods.“
- Go on a virtual walking tour of the Shibuya and Nakameguro area of Tokyo in this YouTube video by TokyoExplorer. It was shot live and has some commentary.