The tsunami was on my mind this week while I was in Tokyo on business. On the surface, Tokyo is the same as ever – an exciting, eclectic city, filled with wonderful people and the weird and wacky things that make Japan so unique. Taxi drivers with their white gloves and immaculate crocheted covered seats. Shops dedicated to making and selling just one thing: crackers, say, or egg omelettes. The tiny restaurants and cafes that serve completely fresh and seasonal food as a matter of course, their popularity measured by the long and patient lines of patrons waiting to be seated.
But deeply, fundamentally, something has changed in Japan. As one person described it to me, “Meaningful experiences matter more than ever, especially with our families. And making a difference for others has never been so important.”
Making a difference was on my mind this week, too. The Twittersphere was full of a call to action; a communal gathering to comfort, to offer succour, to try and assuage another deep and fundamental wound. When Jennifer Perillo lost her husband suddenly and cruelly a few weeks ago, friends and strangers alike responded with the deep need to help make a devastating blow bearable in whatever way they could. From making peanut butter pies to launching a donation fund, to creating the most amazing online auctions, we’ve tried to gather Jennie in our arms. I’m sure you’ve read about this and, like me, have marvelled at the generosity of people.
I wanted to do my part to help, and with the perfect opportunity to pick up some wonderful Japanese products, I’m launching my own online auction for Jennie. Made in Japan features items you’ll be able to bid on that have come with me direct from Tokyo this week, and represent a wide variety of Japanese goods to surprise, delight and enjoy.
Included in the Made in Japan auction:
Sugimoto, a company that has been making knives since the 1830s. The tiny shop at Tsukji Market is worth seeking out. I bought two knives from Sugimoto last year and am a big fan. The auction features a stainless steel Western style 6” general purpose knife and a 4” single edge honed traditional Japanese carbon blade, wood handled vegetable knife (for right handed cooks). Also from Sugimoto – a pair of fish tweezers for picking out the fine bones from your next salmon fillet.
Yagenbori, a company that has been in business since 1625. They make the delicious seven spice blend known as shichimi togarashi, which is blended to order with every purchase. This blend is the “medium” version; my favourite way to use it is in sautéed kale, and the set includes a wooden holder for the spice
The value of the auction items is $450. Bidding starts at $100. To bid,
leave a comment below with your bid amount. Bidding will end on Friday, September 2 at 11:59 pm Eastern time – just before the stroke of midnight. NEW: I will include shipping for anywhere in continental North America.
As the Japanese say, hito wa itawari atte ikite ikanakereba narimasen: people have to live by caring for each other. Bloggers Without Borders is still accepting donations to A Fund For Jennie, with the proceeds going directly to Jennie and her two girls. Click here to give whatever you can; every dollar counts and helps.
Arigatou gozaimasu – thank you very much, and good luck!