In Japan, the new year is actually celebrated twice a year: One is on January 1, of course, but the other is at the beginning of April. April in Japan marks the start of the new school year, as well as when new graduates start their jobs at many companies nationwide. It is a time when the flowers come into bloom — particularly Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms — making it a beautiful season for new beginnings.
Five years after we began Dining with the Chef in 2012, we’ve decided that this April would be the perfect time to launch our newly redesigned website.
We’ve added a new feature that lets you easily make your own list of recipes you’re interested in (link). We also have a new monthly column, where the show’s staff and hosts can share their messages and essays with fans.
And if you try making one of the recipes we’ve shown, we really hope you’ll take a picture and share it with us at the link below (link)! You might even get a comment on it from Chef Saito or Chef Rika!
If you use the recipes and techniques from Dining with the Chef as a guide, you may find that your cooking will start to look and taste better than ever — our staff members and even our hosts Yu Hayami and Patrick Harlan have been practicing at home with what they’ve learned from the show. If you don’t have all of the ingredients that we call for, feel free to try making your own substitutions. We hope that you’ll give it a try too, and if you do, please take a picture and share it with us!
We hope to keep sharing Japan with the world, through this web site and social media, and we want to do it with our cooking. If you have any questions or requests, we want to hear them! Feel free to ask us anything, whether you’re looking for a recipe for a food you tried in Japan and want to make at home, or even if it’s just a food you saw in manga once, and you’d like to try it for yourself.
Dining with the Chef Starts April with a Trip to Kumamoto.
The island of Kyushu, at the southwest end of Japan, is home to the prefecture of Kumamoto, which was ruled by a powerful samurai commander in medieval times. Kumamoto's unique history and culture give it a distinctive feel today, as well. Even as the city continues to recover from the serious damage caused last April by the region’s strongest earthquake in centuries, which affected Kumamoto and the neighboring prefecture of Saga, Kumamoto remains a popular destination for visitors. Whether it’s the natural beauty of the grassy highlands and hot springs of the active volcano Mt. Aso, or the beautiful medieval castle that serves as a symbol of Kumamoto city, Kumamoto Prefecture has plenty to see and do. The prefecture’s charming mascot, Kumamon, has come to be famous recently not just in Japan, but even throughout Asia and beyond. Of course, Kumamoto also offers plenty of unique and delicious local cuisine, made with outstanding ingredients from both land and sea and exceptional water — Kumamoto City features an incredibly unique water supply system, which provides the entire city with underground water.
Our host Yu Hayami will be visiting one of Japan’s preeminent food researcher, who happens to have married into one of Kumamoto’s traditional samurai families, to learn about cooking that uses Kumamoto’s local ingredients. We’ll learn about local recipes that use ingredients like akazake, a type of sake made only in Kumamoto and used in high-end cooking throughout Japan and even abroad. We hope that two-part installment in our Cook Around Japan series puts Kumamoto on your list of places to visit and foods to eat in Japan! (Link to Kumamoto episode page)
Spring marks the start of the new year in Japan, so join us at Dining with the Chef as we ring it in with delicious cooking!