Tag Archives: honey


Java Plum Blossom honey

The day  before we bought our house in Hawaii, we went to a farmer’s market in Hilo, where a pleasant young man was selling organic honey, and not just any organic honey. It was hard to get my head around the concept of Java Plum Blossom organic honey. Do such things really exist outside of fairy tales?

We had discovered organic honey a few years ago. There’s a store nearby that specializes in it, all different sorts from all over Japan. It is impossible to describe how wonderful it tastes, especially if you try it side-by-side with supermarket honey, which by comparison tastes like engine grease. It’s not unlike the difference between the joyous explosion of citrus magic that comes from a lemon and the chemical-infused gunk that comes out of a plastic lemon, despite the adorable packaging.

So we brought our treasure back to Tokyo and savored it over the next months, parceled out from the mother ship into my Peter Rabbit Kewpie mayonnaise jar.

I’ve never met a rabbit that eats mayonnaise, or honey for that matter, so I’ve never really understood why Kewpie chose Peter. It makes about as much sense as a bunny bearing chocolate and colored eggs at Easter, but like the plastic lemon, the jar is just so darned adorable that I’ve kept it for years and years.

And now I’m packing up and moving halfway across the Pacific Ocean. I don’t want to carry the honey back to where it came from, so I gave it away. But I couldn’t give up Peter.

I am astonished at the things I feel I have to keep. I’ve painlessly given away so many things, but am faced with a pile of special somethings that just don’t want to fit into my suitcase: the plastic, now-retro toothpick dispenser, the coffee can I’ve been using forever, the miniature whisk we used to make kitten formula when Plato and Dana were babies. It’s really just a bunch of junk but it feels like leaving these things behind will be leaving little pieces of me scattered across the trash heaps of Tokyo. I’ve had six long months to come to terms with this loss, and have been vehement about not wanting the lovely Hawaii house to be cluttered, but here I sit, paralyzed with indecision.

Just as I don’t want to abandon my bits of nonsense, I find it difficult to let go of Tokyo Tales. This will be the last one, the tail end of the tales, if you will. It has been a journey full of both delight and distress, a source of invaluable catharsis for me, and I thank each and every one of you for sharing it with me.

With a bit of effort and a dusting of luck, we will begin again, a new home, a new life, a new jar of honey.

Aloha and mahalo.

Love You, Honey

My mother raised me on whole wheat sourdough bread, which she baked in an old juice can so it was round and had a mushroom cap. She would make me round school lunch sandwiches with that bread, homemade mayo, and lettuce from the garden. Naturally, I was jealous of the girls with their Wonder bread/ketchup sandwiches.

Remember that this is the same dope who smoked for nearly 35 years. But I seem to be recovering from all those years of inhaling poison and still have low blood pressure, normal cholesterol, better-than-normal bone density and almost all my own teeth. I wonder how the Wonder bread girls are doing.

I do find myself with some of the normal complaints of someone my age, the worst of which so far has been belly pain. Two internalists found nothing wrong and shrugged it off. Another doctor suggested that it was merely gas. I tried medication but it had unpleasant side effects. So I tried organic coconut oil. The Shamen and Witch Doctors and New Agers and Voodooists were right. The pain is gone and the plumbing works fine.  ♫ Just a spoonful of coconut oil helps…

So while I was allowing myself to indulge in homeopathy, I stumbled across some other left wingers touting the virtues of organic honey. While it is not possible to get a decent cheeseburger in this neighborhood, we do have a shop that specializes in honey.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAWe were told that honey bred from the feathery shoots of the delicate acacia flower produces the best honey in the world. The ones in the middle and left are acacia, from Aomori and Iwate Prefectures, respectively. The one on the right is ordinary supermarket honey. According to the honey lady, the supermarket varieties are 4th tier mixed breeds not worthy of recognition. To be exact, she scoffed, “Hah. That’s mizu ame (sugar water).” To use a car analogy, the first is a Toyota Lexus, the second a Nisan Infiniti, and the third a Suzuki Rice Burner.

If you infuse a bottle of white wine with a handful of parsley, a little wine vinegar and some organic honey, you get Parsley Wine, the world’s healthiest sleeping pill, which also helps the liver do its job and strengthens the respiratory system. Yeah, it’s expensive, but to quote L’Oreal, I’m worth it.

The other night, I was invited to a fine dining experience in celebration of finishing a project.


My colleagues warned me that it is difficult to find the restaurant. It wasn’t, but when I got there, the name was only written in kanji. I didn’t want to walk into the wrong restaurant, so I approached the man at the veggie stand across the street. There was the usual moment of panic on his face when he saw mine, but then I said, “Is that place called Sugata?” Big smile, bobbing head. “Oh, yes. That’s Sugata.” “Thanks,” says me. “I couldn’t read the kanji.” He looked genuinely surprised, which seems so odd. He didn’t expect me to be able to speak Japanese, yet somehow did expect me to be able to read it.

Fine dining doesn’t often cross my path, so I was delighted to accept, but wary. I’m a fairly picky eater and fancy Japanese food generally involves parts of sea critters I am not comfortable with, among other things. I am not a big fan of raw fish and never eat eggplant, but there’s a reason this stuff is so expensive. I ate and truly enjoyed all the sashimi (except for the squid shiokara: Wiki definition: small pieces of meat in a brown viscous paste of the animal’s heavily salted, fermented viscera. Can you blame me?) Other than that, it was dish after dish of the finest, freshest seasonal specialties, lightly seasoned and gently teased into palatal perfection. I honestly loved the octopus; the lumps of eggplant in a crabmeat laced soup even went down fairly smoothly.

My point is, just what is the best? Is it the world’s finest honey? The freshest sashimi? A Toyota Lexus? Or bread with love baked right into its mushroom cap?

P.S. Then there’s this: