Today we’re happy to interview the author of Kakikata, The “Japanese Wellness” blog!
Tell us a little bit about yourself to start! What do you do? How would you describe the purpose of your blog? How did you come up with the idea of creating it?
Hello! I’m a writer on Japanese health and lifestyle, at kakikata.space and kokumura.medium.com. I was born in the U.S. (Dallas, TX to be specific), and then raised in New York and Tokyo. My life has been a constant balancing of these two identities, but I have ultimately found it to be a blessing.
In the past, I struggled with both my physical and emotional wellbeing, but I have found that by adopting a healthy lifestyle, I have worked myself into a positive feedback loop– a healthy body supports a healthy mind, and a healthy mind builds a healthy body. Using the lessons I’ve learned and experienced in both my Japanese and Western upbringing, I hope to share what I’ve discovered about living well with others, for I strongly believe that good health is not only beneficial, but incredibly essential to living a fulfilling and rich life.
How did you get in tune with the Japanese way of pursuing wellbeing?
I had the privilege to spend a lot of time with grandparents and parents, who showed me the more traditional aspects of Japanese life and values of society. In addition, I found that just living in Japan had made me healthier–I began losing weight, becoming more fit, had more energy–and discovered that while daily life in Japan was not drastically different from life in the U.S., the small differences made big changes to my wellbeing.
What is your number one piece of advice to start following Japanese wellness principles?
Start small, and start with a change that you’re excited about adopting! Living well shouldn’t feel like overhauling one’s identity, and it shouldn’t feel like a chore–if it feels in line with your values and who you want to become, it’ll become sustainable, which is the ultimate indicator of success.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned from the Western lifestyle? And from the Japanese?
Hard question! I think I’ll skip on the ‘most valuable’ part of this question, but recently a Western perspective I’ve really come to value is the lightheartedness and playfulness it can have towards life–like any journey, health journeys have their ups and downs, but ultimately expecting and embracing the process with a playful attitude is what makes the experience worthwhile and enjoyable.
As for a Japanese perspective, one I’ve come to really appreciate is moderation–extremism in anything is toxic, and to find joy and appreciation in moderation is something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
When you first approached the Japanese diet, what food did you most enjoy? Which one did you like the least?
I grew up with Japanese food, even while in the U.S., and it is hard to say any one single food–but as a child I distinctly remember loving TKG (tamago-kake gohan) or egg with rice, topped with shiso-wakame furikake or natto as being a favorite.
When it comes to foods I didn’t like, I wasn’t that picky of an eater, but I really didn’t like kohaku namasu (daikon and carrot Japanese pickles) as a child. It wasn’t so much the vegetables, but I just wasn’t a fan of the sweetened vinegar.
Your blog about the importance of kitchen tools and their quality got me thinking. Is there an appliance that anybody that wants to start pursuing Japanese wellbeing should get?
Rice cooker! And get a nice expensive one–I use it all the time, and it saves you so much time and energy. I used my last rice cooker for nearly 15 years, and the reason why I got rid of it was because I was moving and had to get rid of some stuff, not because it wasn’t useful anymore (I gave it away to a friend).
What is the biggest obstacle for Western people to overcome in order to adopt the Japanese way of wellbeing?
I don’t think there’s any big obstacle for Western people specifically–maybe growing up with a mindset that a healthy lifestyle looks like some form of extremism (eating only salads, equating meaningful exercise with working out at a gym for many hours, cutting out sugar, etc.) can be a bit of a mental barrier, but with an open mind, there is no culture-specific obstacle to it.
What would you suggest as a first step to start the journey towards wellbeing?
I’m probably repeating myself, but find a lifestyle change that is small, and a change you’re excited about adopting. Don’t try to change your identity overnight–maybe try a simple Japanese breakfast instead of your usual breakfast, a new recipe, or recalibrate your idea of a single serving for dessert. It shouldn’t stress you out!
Last but not least: what is your favorite comfort food? And your favorite cheat food?
I don’t really like using terms like ‘cheat’ because it implies something that shouldn’t be eaten (and I don’t think food should be viewed like that) but some Japanese comfort foods I love: oyakodon, sukiyaki, katsu-sando, Japanese curry, grilled unagi, okonomiyaki, just to name a few! Some Japanese desserts I love include taiyaki, dorayaki, sakura mochi, anything matcha, anything sweet potato, and fluffy Japanese cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu.