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Great history and even more interesting gift giving protocol...Isn't it interesting how in Japan the gift giving is in reverse of those traditions in the US. We have the traditional "Welcome Wagon" for those new neighbors who move in. Gifts of food are given to the new comers not the reverse..ha ha....Wonderful to see that you're starting the cooking process once again in the new abode...


Congrats! You've officially moved and cooked your "first" meal!

I like the story you dug up. When I first moved in, I brought lots of small gifts from my country to give to the neighbours, but I didn't realise that I was moving into a block with only small apartments i.e. fits only one person. More than a year later today, I have hardly seen any of my neighbours!

Oh, speaking of devil's tongue, please share with me how you cooked it. What seasoning did you use? Konnyaku is really tasty but I have yet to attempt a dish with it.


So interesting. And now I feel like a barbarian because I didn't know about any of this when I got my Tokyo place arranged.

You know, I really miss my Tokyo pad. Not so much because of the apartment itself, but because of the great efforts it took to arrange everything: the key money, the registration with the local government, the bowing, the transfer of the telephone, on and on... that is a lot to just give up after jumping through all the necessary hoops.

I guess the California equivalent for hikoshi soba is hikoshi Chinese food, eaten straight out of those too-cute takeaway boxes. Eaten on the floor, of course. I have very fond memories of doing that in quite a number of different locales. :-)


what a fantastic post--history, customs, and just a hint of trauma...? ;) congratulations on your new move!


It is interesting how all the pressure is on the new neighbor, and during such a busy time. I guess the idea is that moving causes inconvenience to the neighbors, so it's up to the person moving to make the first move.

Many younger single people don't care about the old customs and want nothing to do with their neighbors. Such a shame you had to waste all those gifts on them.

I know exactly how you feel. After all the effort (and money) it took to get here, I want to stay here for ever.
I'm in awe that you did all that yourself. And at a time when landlords and real estate agents discriminated freely against foreigners. Before I got married I stayed lived in Gaijin Houses or company-arranged housing only- the thought of renting my own apartment was too daunting.
Chinese takeout would have been nice. In Canada we just order a pizza (while sending someone out for a beer run, of course).

Thanks! We're over the trauma and everything is fine, but I'll post about it soon.


Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Tabehodai, here's your recipe. I copied it from a group I belong to; the recipe was kindly supplied by a fellow foreign lady who runs a sushi shop with her husband.
The recipe doesn't mention it, but I like to boil my konyaku for a few minutes first- it firms it up and removes some of that konyaku stink.

"Chikuwa and Konyaku Itame

Four small chikuwa or two large sliced diagonally in about 1/4 inch slices
One block of konyaku
Three tbls. soy sauce
Three tbls. sake
Three tbls. sugar
Shichi mi (seven spice chili powder)
Sesame oil

Score the konyaku on both sides, rub with a bit of salt and rinse well,
drain. Cut into bite sized chunks. Heat about two to three tbls. of salad oil in
a fry pan, and add the konyaku, brown slightly on all sides, and chikuwa and
brown slightly, add soy sauce, sake and sugar, and cook over a medium flame
until the liquid is almost all gone. Sprinkle liberally with shichi mi and add a
touch of sesame oil. That's it.
For four servings, it costs about a hundred yen, takes about five minutes
to make, and makes a good addition to bento."


Thank you so much for the recipe!

I've had just simple konnyaku with sliced chillies at an izakaya but I had no idea how they could make it so tasty. I'm gonna try it soon!

By the way, I kinda fried natto n kimchi in rice the other night n it was really tasty. Actually I did it the lazy way. so I did everything in the rice cooker. Basically cook rice with a clove of lightly fried n fragrant crushed garlic (I just crushed the garlic, added a little oil, pop it into the microwave on high for a min) as per normal, then just before all the water dries up in the rice cooker, add kimchi, natto and some minced pork (lightly marinated with soy sauce n pepper if u like), cover the rice cooker and let the rice continue to cook completely. When the rice is done, mix everything well and let it stand in the rice cooker a little while. The "fried" rice was great and fuss free to make. I guess if I had cooked the rice and then separately fried it with the other ingredients in the pan, then everything will be crispier?


Congratulations on the move! A few years ago when I moved I tried to take a little present to my neighbors and they wouldn't open their door for me...I had to do my aisatsu through a closed door! That was quite traumatic.

Good luck with the unpacking/settling in.

P.S. I have the same blue and white bowl (the one on the left in your photo). :-)


That rice sounds great, Tabehodai! I'm love recipes that are tasty, healthy and above all EASY, so I'll give this a try soon.

DrH, That's awful. Did your neighbors ever warm up to you?
I once had a complete set of these dishes, but I've pretty much broken them all...

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