Monday, 14 March 2011

Things I Love About Japan - Yohji's Women - Miso Soup & More

Today, in response to the very distressing news coming from Japan, I started to compile a list of all the good things Japanese I know. The list is already too long to share, and I expect you have a list of your own. So, here are just a few from mine: Politeness. Kindness to strangers. Having posters in the street that remind you when you walk along the street smoking your lit cigarette is level with the faces of children. Wrapping things beautifully. Grace. Cod cheek served on Magnolia leaves. Beautiful gardens. Carp. Maps on street corners in case you are lost. Policemen in boxes on street corners in case you are lost and can't read maps. Unimaginably beautiful hand crafted sweets. Black sesame seed ice-cream. Wonderful stitching. Fabulous textile books. Somewhere to keep your baby safe and near you when you have to pop into a public loo. Great designers such as Yohji Yamamoto whose exhibition has just opened at the V&A. And also a free exhibition Yohji's Women at the Wapping Project, Bankside (in good old Hopton Street where I used to work). Click here for more details for the V&A. Here for the Wapping Project. And just where would I be without my sachets for Miso soup? Sometimes I pick up a whole box of wonderful mixed mushrooms from the market and I come home and sweat them in batches with some nice oil and thyme I picked in the Alpilles. Then I freeze them in small batches, just enough to pull out for a sauce for steak, or for a soup. Here is one of my favourite 5 minute soups for 2 people: Make up half a pint of Miso soup using a sachet which you can now buy in health shops and even supermarkets. Put it in a pan with two handfuls of mushrooms which have been sweated in oil with some herbs (thyme is lovely) and a little pepper. Chop up a small leek or half a dozen scallions (spring onions)and stick that in too. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile make some cheese on toast. Toast a slice of bread in the toaster till just golden, butter it while hot, sprinkle on some good grated cheddar or Jack cheese and give it a quick burst under the grill to melt the cheese. Cut the toast into squares. Half blitz the soup and float the cheesey croutons on top. Yum!
I am so lucky, I have a home, I know where my family is, I have heat, light, fresh water, a stove to cook soup..... I emailed Saho who looks after the Needleprint Japan blog so wonderfully, and luckily she and her family are OK but can only watch with disbelief as things unfold north of Tokyo. I would like Saho to be able to tell the people she knows, that although we can't do much to help, we do care about the people in Japan. I know the Book of Condolences and Comfort has horrible advertising - I can't do anything about that. But I do please ask you to leave a little message that Saho can relay to people in Japan on our behalf.


  1. I do so agree with your words. I too love Japan and have friends there.

  2. Thank you J, for your lovely summing up of Japan, they are such gracious people. Everyone seems to be so calm, and must be so desperate inwardly.
    Hope the RC button gets a lot of hits:))

  3. And quality cars that are worth what you pay for them & that last forever! And sushi! And work ethic and art and...well so many things. Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Japan & their families.

  4. I`m afraid I don`t know much about Japan...mostly just the snippets of their culture gleaned from movies and the press. But that doesn`t matter...what matters is that they are fellow human beings in a great state of distress and need. I am praying and sending wishes for their comfort and relief. Bless them...