Once again we awoke with alarm! This time the only thing shaking was our excitement as sleet fell over the ground just outside our door! Everyone had wished for snow during our stay here in Tokyo and the desire was too strong to withhold it from us. We very quickly realised that today is going to be a day of cooking and snow.
Time to grab the umbrellas and off we go! Just the two of us today journeying to a cooking class we signed up for in the beautiful Futako-Tamagawa district. We had a slight idea of where we were headed judging by google maps before we left our wifi range. A very quick decision to board an express train at the station left us with fingers crossed it was going to stop where we needed! It was a good thing we got on that train because it took us right where we needed to go within about 6 minutes! We had planned around 30 minutes for normal trains. Thankfully these 6 minutes gave us a lot of much needed cushion room (I’ll get more into that soon).
With a big smile we disembarked this lovely express train at Futako-Tamagawa station. This station looks pretty neat! They had started decorating the station for Christmas with a gigantic Christmas Tree. Enough festive eye candy for now though, we have got some exploring to do! Off we went on a walk through lovely streets that brought a very natural and thoughtful feel to this area of Japan.
The place induced us with a calm and friendly approach to life. We wandered and wandered with our hands freezing not really sure where we actually were relative to the location we needed to be. After some helpful hand gestures from a road construction worker we were off on our way and soon recognised some street names and visually pin pointed our destination!
Alright we arrived a bit late and you know, felt slightly guilty because of that! Lucky we caught the express right!? We were warmly welcomed by Aiko, our amazingly talented and very friendly cooking instructor. We were offered a cosy place to get the feeling back in our hands and some delicious warm herbal tea before being run through the cooking plan for the next few hours. The TV was on airing the local news. It was of course showing snow in all different areas of Tokyo, some very dense snow in areas! A quick announcement was made that even non Japanese speakers could understand. First snow for Tokyo in 54 years!! I looked at Katie and thought, “this is a miracle trip. Earthquakes, snowing, toilets with more than one button, cooking class… What other things had I secretly wished for to experience for the first time on my first Japan trip?”
Alright time to cook, immediately I got nervous. I do enjoy cooking and I am getting better all the time though I have to admit, among Katie and Aiko, I felt overwhelmed with what was to come.
Aiko’s classes are all vegetarian (mostly vegan), but all of her classes can be made vegan. She has three to choose from and we chose the Shojin Ryori class, which is buddhist vegetarian cooking.
We started by making some delicious Sesame Tofu as that needed to be set in the fridge – funny thing is, there’s no tofu in it at all, it’s made out of other ingredients – but it looks like tofu when it sets, and it has a texture almost like silken tofu, but with a sesame flavour!
Up next was the rice dumplings and later on a sweet soy sauce to drizzle over. After that we began on the deep fried Kyoadofu and simmer, which was freeze dried tofu, eggplant and lotus root deep fried and then cooked in a delicious thick sauce. Moving right on to the Soba Noodle Sushi!! It was the first time we had seen sushi done without rice. The soba noodles make for a delicious taste and a fascinating texture to these hearty mouthfuls. Finally we ventured into the magical realm of tempura and a nourishing soup with burdock, carrot and kombu stock.
We used some weird and wonderful ingredients we haven’t used before, including kuzu root starch, burdock, and kombu soup stock. Aiko also had printed off all the recipes for us to take home (a copy each!) and some further info on Kuzu, Soba, Mirin and Soy Sauce.
We very excited to go back to Tokyo and try Aiko’s other cooking classes! You can find her on Facebook and Instagram. If you are a vegan or vegetarian and you are travelling to Tokyo, it is well worth going to one of her classes!!
Our stomachs were rumbling as the plate grew ever more colourful as we added everything together in an artistic manner. Aiko has some really amazing food presentation experience and our plates were no exception with her help. Then we ate. Oh we ate..
It wasn’t too many chews until I had decided that the food and experience was easily up there in my most cherished moments. This still reigns true today. We had made so much food that we didn’t quite finish the plate and I can easily tell you, I was super hungry! With words full of gratitude between the three of us we said our goodbyes and went outside to brave the cold once again only this time with satisfaction and extreme joy written all over our faces 🙂
“Josh look!!!!” Oh, my, gosh! Another miracle as we stood still watching the most beautiful sight of snow falling lightly over the empty streets. We both left some heart beats forever beating over and over in that moment of everlasting magic. We gracefully walked through this incredible experience giggling and realising that life is more magical than you could ever possibly imagine. You know what, I don’t even think we were focused on getting back to the station, we just kind of ended up there. “Hey look at those stairs!” Hey they look pretty cool, got a photo too. The stairs were illuminated and animated. The colour scheme of these stairs along with that blue Christmas tree really resonated well with this area and weather. We boarded the train to headed back to Harajuku.
No words would ever convey what we felt that day, only a glance into the eyes of each other where we can see the magical experiences together still swirling around in that dark void of the universe’s reflection. If this day meant anything other than Japanese food being amazing, then it would be: people will come together to share their passions and interests with you as long as you are radiating it from your heart centre. I will always strive to remember this and be here to share it with you.