This restaurant is a New York City gem. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s special. On Sundays, children from the nearby Ukrainian Church come to eat their lunch. It feels more like Eastern Europe than the east village. I recommend the apple filled donuts. Shot for New Yorker, the article is here.


The Rise of Modern Ikebana

About a year ago, after finishing my Kikuchiyo-san book, I Used To Be You, i was finding it hard to be excited about anything. In hope of getting inspired, I went to a lot of bookstores and museums, but nothing much was happening in my mind. But one day I was flipping through a thick second hand Ikebana book at Mast book in East Village, and strangely it gave me a big rush of adrenaline. Ikebana and adrenaline doesn't seem to be a likely combination. Maybe I had too much coffee that day, but I felt excited again. After that, I enrolled in an ikebana class for six months. It turns out that ikebana has many rules to learn. I tried to follow the rules and create something meaningful at the same time, but my teacher finally told me, “Maybe you're not really cut out for ikebana”. Even so, I sometimes miss the class. In the small night classroom in midtown we were experiencing the tiny spring arrival fiddling with early cherry blossoms. The lovely (so I thought) Ikebana I made with cherry blossoms were eaten by our cat by next day. The chewed up cherry blossoms seemed like a reminder of the gap I sometimes experience between the art I want to create and my current chaotic everyday life. Okay, side tracked here again. Big thanks to T Magazine, and the great flower artist we got to work with, Emily Thompson who also had created massive Ikebana. You can read the article for this shoot here.


Novel taste of Old Food

My oldest memory of sea urchin is rather violent. It was in the summer, way back when I was 5 or 6 years old. I was walking on a rocky beach in Kujukuri Chiba Japan with my mother when she found something between some rocks and cracked it open. Then she held it out to me and told me to eat it. It was a sea urchin. I love sea urchin now, but I still remember the shock of sea urchin being cracked open right front of me, the orange flesh appeared in the perfect container that nature designed for it. It felt violent especially coming from my very sweet and polite mother. I also remember that it was fresh, tasted like butter, and that I felt guilty that we killed it. The article for this shoot which, by the way, has nothing to do with my story, is right here. 



Surrealism on a Plate

Most fun shoot and it is a miracle that any of the Wedgewood pieces didn’t break. Thanks to T Magazine, an incredible stylist Linda Heiss we worked with, and our Lady Amherst Pheasant bird who carried the tower of ceramics on her back perfectly and patiently… I’m so glad we shot that silly duck against rococo as well pushing ourselves after the epic ceramic jenga situation. You can read the article here. NYtimes Style Magazine, Luxury and Design Issue.



Long absent from Tumblr…After having a strong cup of coffee, I’m attempting to try to catch up today! Here is a fun collaboration with Labo.Art, a clothing company based in Milan. Their clothes we've photographed reminded me of origami papers for some reason, maybe the shapes, maybe the way the fabric fold, and maybe the minimalist aesthetic we talked about. Big thanks to the A/D/O space in the hood for allowing us to shoot there and super sweet team, Ludo and Ludovica! Check out more styles here;

Scotland's Love Affair With Seaweed

Until now, I didn't know that seaweed has been foraged and eaten on the coasts of Scotland for generations. I've never visited Scotland before, and the country remains somewhat like a beautiful fairy land to me, which is infused with landscape images from The Game of Thrones (yes, I love the show even though I wonder about the attraction of its violent content -- sorry I'm side tracked here). So, opening the box that arrived from T Magazine full of fresh seaweed foraged in Scotland was a sweet treat. I breathed in the ocean smell, and went, ooh, ahh. You can see the article here in T Magazine. Smoked Dulce seaweed is probably not meant to be eaten with a bowl of rice, but I'm a Japanese person so I couldn't help the temptation. After the shoot, the remaining seaweed was happily eaten by my 4 year old son (last picture) and myself. 

The New Age of Traditional Mexican Mole

The most vivid thing I saw during this shoot was the thick, black, prickly, bristly hair coming out of the pig’s foot. The crab was still alive when we photographed him and he sat still for us holding a mound of wet seaweed on top of his head. The sense of guilt is always present when I do food shoots like this, knowing that unfortunately we might have to toss them after the shoot even though we try hard not to waste anything. At the same time, I'm amazed by how amazing and incredible these ingredients look and probably taste when chefs do their magic. I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. Maybe I need to thank those quiet ingredients for the pictures. 

Thanks to Carter Love from T for sharing his enthusiasm, and to our stylist Carin Scheve for preparing such amazing ingredients. We had really great time creating these sculptural images in a studio full of complex aroma and colors. 

Shot for NYtimes Style Guide, you can read the story here.

Fermentation, a Love Story

It was a great pleasure to visit Hudson Valley and breathe in the fresh air and the complex fragrant smells from the very special fermentation jars Jori Emde was creating. The story is here in T Magazine.