Grated Mountain Yam (Tororo) – Two Ways

Hero shot of Grated Mountain Yam on Tuna in a bowl.

Grated Mountain Yam is a quick and delicious side dish made simply by grating a mountain yam and pouring it over an ingredient. Mountain yam is a long, slender root vegetable and when grated, it turns into something quite unexpected and unique, with a very sticky and slimy texture.

I recently posted a recipe, Sautéed Mountain Yam, in which I explained a little bit about the mountain yam varieties that Japanese people often use. You can use any of those three mountain yam varieties to make Grated Mountain Yam.

I decided to post yet another mountain yam recipe shortly after Sautéed Mountain Yam so that you can enjoy a few different dishes using mountain yam before the season is over in Australia.

Grated Mountain Yam is generically called ‘tororo‘ (とろろ) in Japanese. The word ‘tororo’ (とろろ) came from the texture of the grated yam.


Japanese people are very good at expressing sound, appearance, and texture using repeated sounds or words. It is called onomatopoeia in English. But in the case of Japanese onomatopoeia, it often uses the same sounds/words twice, which is a bit different from the English onomatopoeia. Repeated words/sounds are usually written in Katakana.

For example, ‘ting-a-ling’ or ‘jingle’ are the words for expressing the sound of a gentle bell in English. But in Japanese, it is ‘rinrin’ (リンリン or りんりん). The state of glittering is expressed as ‘giragira’ (ギラギラ or ぎらぎら) or ‘kirakira’ (キラキラ or きらきら) depending on how strongly the object is shining and sparkling. The strong sun shine in summer is ‘giragira’, and the shining stars are ‘kirakira’.

Showing sticky and slimy tororo.

Grated Mountain Yam is sticky and slimy.

When something is sticky and/or slimy, people express it as ‘torotoro’ (トロトロ …continue reading


Japanese chef shows how to turn leftover mochi into perfect castella pancakes


Often enjoyed at chic cafes, “perfect” fluffy Japanese soufflé pancakes are actually pretty easy to make at home once you learn how to switch up some ingredients.

There’s more than one way to fluff up your pancakes, however. Popular chef Mugi Rice (@HG7654321) often shares helpful and easy cooking tips to level up people’s kitchen skills, whether it be gourmet tofu recipes or making game-changing tempura sauce.

Earlier this year, Mugi Rice decided to show how turn leftover mochi (since it’s a popular New Year’s treat, many Japanese families have leftover batches at the beginning of the year) into delicious castella pancakes.

First, dice block of mochi into small fine pieces and add to the pancake mix.

Source: @HG7654321

Then pour the batter into a pan heated over very low heat, cover it and let sit for 15 minutes.

Source: @HG7654321
Source: @HG7654321

Turn over, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes, then it’s done!

Source: @HG7654321
…continue reading


Masks And Health Insurance: New Guidelines For Tourists As Japan Opens Its Doors

Japan Forward

“We have been waiting for more than two years and with so much anticipation for this moment, it feels like it has finally arrived” ー Masaharu Matsuoka.

Arielle Busetto and Shaun Fernando, JAPAN Forward

Foreign tourists visiting Japan will wear masks, purchase private health insurance, and be accompanied throughout their stay, the Japanese government announced on June 7.

It is a sign that Japan is reopening slowly after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

Only visitors on package tours are allowed in during the first phase, which begins from June 10, the Japan Tourism Agency said. There is currently a cap of 20,000 people allowed to enter the country per day for all categories of people, such as Japanese nationals, foreign residents, students, and business visitors. From June 10, incoming tourists are included in that figure.

The last time tourists were allowed to enter Japan was in March 2020.

Under the new guidelines, visitors are once again welcome, but with conditions. They must use the services of travel agencies registered in Japan. Those agencies are responsible for processing their visas and guaranteeing their travel, according to a new sixteen-page guideline handbook.

Some Key Points

Masks: The new guidance calls for participants to be frequently reminded of the necessary sanitation precautions, such as wearing masks and removing them only when they are not required throughout the tour.

Masks are deemed unnecessary when locations are not crowded, while bathing in spas, or when participating in outdoor activities. In situations where people converse in close proximity, however, masks should be worn even outdoors.

Medical insurance: Travelers are required to take out medical insurance to cover any costs of treatment or care in the event they contract COVID-19.

In addition, they are to be chaperoned by tour guides throughout their trip. Guides are required to keep an itinerary to track close contacts in …continue reading


Japanese airport’s international gourmet vending machines has netizens clamoring for them everywhere


Vending machines in Japan are known for conveniently being just around every corner, but they might as well be known for carrying just about everything as well. While standard beverages go without saying, recent years have seen vending machines in the country dishing out drinkable ramen broth, pizza, and even fancy French gourmet meals.

Twitter user Hirotaka (@tabi_gari) recently stumbled upon a vending machine in a surprising place that has many clamoring for it to be installed throughout the country. While visiting Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Hirotaka found a vending machine that dispenses international airline cuisine!

Source: @tabi_gari
Source: @tabi_gari
Source: @tabi_gari

While at Haneda airport, I went to check out the “in-flight meals of the world” vending machines that launched this month. You can get a total of five different meals for 980 a person, including Coq Au Vin from France, Paella from Spain, and Gapao rice from Thailand. It’d be great if you could warm it up right there and eat in the airport. Then you could feel international even on domestic flights.


— Hirotaka (@tabi_gari) June 7, 2022

To the surprise of many on Twitter, Haneda Airport has a specific vending machine that dishes out international themed airline food. While airline food may not top many Michelin lists, something about the novelty of gourmet options from different international flights such as Coq Au Vin (France), Paella (Spain), Gapao rice (Thailand), Massaman curry (Thailand), shrimp with yuzu black pepper and cream sauce (USA and Japan) being available in a vending machine to take home has gotten a very positive response.

The vending …continue reading


Genderless makeup artist Zutti Mattia wows with amazing makeover videos


Affiliated with the creative agency PPPSTUDIO, Zutti Mattia is a Japanese creator and makeup artist who promotes genderless beauty.

With a background as a former beauty consultant, they post videos on makeup and fashion on their YouTube and TikTok channels.

Zutti Mattia is particularly known for their amazing makeup transformations.

For example, in this video, they demonstrate how they can transform themselves to get a ハーフ顔 hāfu-gao, a look that emulates mixed-race features.

Using their favorite makeup products, they give themselves a gorgeous look. Crucial in this video is the eye makeup that highlights the eyes by carefully layering colors.

There’s also a video where Zutti explains the “cut-crease” method in more detail.

Viewers left comments such as: “So beautiful! and “It looks great on you,” as well as “I’m attracted to your friendly personality.”

In addition to makeup products, Zutti also has a wonderful collection of wigs to make the transformation complete.

The following video shows their collection. You can see how a wig can make a big difference in the impression created!

You can tell that Zutti is emotionally invested in each and every one of them. They’ve customized many of the wigs, dyeing them, adding hair, or arranging them in other ways.

Other popular videos include Zutti achieving “the face (of who) I want to be.”

For example, in this video, they create the unique look of the actors who play male parts in the Takarazuka Revue, Japan’s famous all-female musical theater troupe:

Zutti achieved this look through trial and error, trying their best to approach the image they had in mind.

It’s easy to follow along as they explain the process.

…continue reading


Japanese schools to introduce genderless swimsuits with unisex two-piece design


Three Japanese schools plan to introduce new genderless swimsuits with unisex two-piece designs during the current academic year (April 2022 to March 2023), with ten schools currently considering implementing them in the subsequent year.

The swimsuits are made by Footmark, Co., Ltd., a leading provider of swimming caps and school swimwear for school children in Japan.

The long-sleeved top reduces exposure to ultraviolet rays when swimming outside. The bottoms are half-pants that minimize the contours of the body. According to the company’s press release, this unisex design is intended to allow students to participate in their swimming lessons without them (or others) paying attention to gender.


Amidst a growing understanding of and interest in LGBTQ* issues in Japan, some schools have been adopting new initiatives such as allowing students to freely choose their school uniforms.

However, although there have been changes in the shapes of swimsuits for men and women in the past fifty years, Footmark explains, “gender-specific designs have persisted, and many of these swimsuits highlight the differences between genders.” Other companies have also sold swimsuits that hide the contours of the body, but there have been no unisex two-piece swimsuits specifically designed for schools.

As you can see below, Footmark’s school swimsuits, following the general trend in Japan, went from one-piece swimsuits for girls and swimming briefs for boys in the 70s to swimming legsuits for girls and medium-length shorts for boys in the 2000s. Then in 2004, they introduced a two-piece swimsuit for girls and long swimming trunks for boys. In 2010, they introduced their “Shine Guard” tops to protect students from ultraviolet rays.

Swimsuit design

Numbers added by grape Japan as reference for description below

Footmark paid particular attention to the material and fine-tuned the pattern to create …continue reading


Shiba Area Guide – Discover This Relaxing Neighbourhood In Central Tokyo

Shiba Area Guide - Zojoji Temple Gate

Today, we will visit together one of my favorite area in Tokyo: Shiba! Don’t get confused, I’m not talking about Chiba prefecture but Shiba district that is located in central Tokyo!

What I love above anything else here is the relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere. Despite the fact that we are in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, you feel calm and in peace when you hang out in Shiba. This is probably thanks to all the beautiful parks that you can visit here.

With its central location and tranquil vibes, Shiba is a great option for your travel accommodation. And if you live already in Tokyo, go there just to relax and to breath some fresh air while staying in the city.

The 6 Best Things To Do In Shiba

While the best activity to do in Shiba is just to hang out here and there, there are still some places that you shouldn’t miss. Let’s check them out together below.

1. Zojoji Temple

Zojoji temple is the spiritual heart of Shiba and you should definitely check it out at some point. You can’t miss it with its huge red gate (Sangedatsumon) that marks the entrance to the temple.

It’s the head temple of the Buddhist sect “Jodo” and it was originally built in 1393. In 1598, the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (one of Japan’s most influential historical figures) relocated the temple to its current location when he entered Edo (Tokyo).

During Edo period, Zojoji temple was the family temple of the Tokugawa family and you can see there the family mausoleum located at the back of the site.

Zojoji Temple Tokyo Tower

In addition to …continue reading


Instant noodles “modified recipe” becomes a hot topic in Japan; Just add ingredients and boil?

  • “I really want to make this”
  • “It looks soooo good!”
  • “I’m hungry and I want to eat this now!”

Japanese chef and Twitter user 麦ライス Mugi Raisu (@HG7654321) received enthusiastic comments such as these after posting a noodle recipe.

The recipe uses “Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen,” a long-selling Japanese instant noodle product made by Sanyo Foods Co. and available in North America, Hong Kong, and other countries around the world.

Mugi Raisu says, “I made Sesame Soymilk Dandan Noodles with Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen and it tasted like a specialty restaurant!”

Recipe for Sesame Soymilk Dandan Noodles


  • 1 package of Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen
  • 300 ml soymilk
  • 2 tablespoons sesame paste (Chinese or Japanese made with roasted sesame, not Tahini)
  • 2/3 teaspoon Sichuan bean paste (dòubànjiàng)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • A pinch of Chinese hot chili oil (or Japanese rāyu)

First, bring 300 ml of water to a boil in a pot and boil “Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen” noodles for 2 minutes.

Image reproduced with permission from 麦ライス Mugi Raisu (@HG7654321)

Then add the included broth powder, soymilk, sesame paste, Sichuan bean paste, sugar, and hot chili oil, bring to a boil, and voila!

Image reproduced with permission from 麦ライス Mugi Raisu (@HG7654321)

All you have to do is add seasonings and bring it to a boil again, so anyone can easily enjoy this recipe for a modified version of Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen. It also happens to be vegan as well!

You can add bok choy, soft-boiled eggs (marinated in seasonings for a Japanese nitamago), or thinly sliced green onion as toppings to make it more satisfying.

If you’re interested, why not give it a try?

…continue reading


Japanese Tea is Special

Steamed Japanese green tea

Japanese freshly-harvested leaves are dried naturally, and then kneaded and rolled into various shapes until they are completely dry. Leaves for matcha are ground into a fine powder.

Processing this way stops fresh leaves from oxidation and fermentation. Most Chinese green teas are pan-fried.

Japanese green tea is not pan fried. It is steamed to prevent oxidation

This is an efficient method for preventing the oxidation of flavonoids and polyphenols that gives Japanese green tea its unique flavor and health-enhancing properties.

Japan originated shading their plants to make gyokuro

Gyokuro leaves

Matcha comes from specially handled gyokuro leaves (tencha).

Matcha in bowl
Ceremonial grade matcha

More on gyokuro and matcha.

Japanese and Chinese Green Tea Differences

China is the world’s largest exporter of green tea by far. Most of the green tea you see in shops and dining establishments comes from China.

Japanese and Chinese green teas both come from the same Camellia Sinensis plant which is native to Asia.

Japanese green tea has a crisper and slightly sweeter taste due to the absence of fermentation.

…continue reading


Debate: “Leashes make kids look like pets!” Manga artist’s genius rebuttal wins praise online


Even parents can’t predict how their young children will behave.

In addition to their limited physical abilities, their poor judgment makes it more likely that they can place themselves in danger at a moment’s notice.

To protect children from accidents and trouble, kid leashes are becoming increasingly popular in Japan.

The leashes are attached to harnesses worn by the child, and parents, legal guardians, or caretakers can hold the leash to prevent the child from straying away, running into the road, or putting themselves in harm’s way.

On the opinion that “leashes make kids look like pets”

On Children’s Day, May 5th, 2022, manga artist 洋介犬 Yohsuke Ken (@yohsuken) posted an episode from his manga 『反逆コメンテーターエンドウさん』 hangyaku komentētā endōsan (Rebellious Commentator Mr. Endo), in which the titular character appeared in a news program discussing the issue of kid leashes.

His co-host had a negative view…

Our English translation follows below each panel.

Reproduced with permission from 洋介犬 Yohsuke Ken (@yohsuken)

TITLE: Commentator Mr. Endo and the kid leash debate. | FRAME 1: (Co-host) The other day, I saw a mother who had a leash on her kid… I couldn’t help but think to myself: ‘Aw, come on now…’” FRAME 2: “…Just like a pet, don’t you think?… Tied up like that, it made me feel sorry for the kid.” (audience laughs)” FRAME 3: (Mr. Endo) “If it were me, I’d gladly use a leash to protect my kid from accidents. You’re the one I feel sorry for since you’re ‘tied up’…” FRAME 4: “…by old values and notions of common sense.”

Reproduced with permission from 洋介犬 Yohsuke Ken (@yohsuken)

TITLE: Commentator Mr. Endo and the limits of endurance. | FRAME 1: (Co-host) “But…but is it really a good idea …continue reading