Someone’s class project….

Apparently, some English class at a Japanese university is exploring the Anglophone Blogosphere in search of pen pals and practice. (This is the closest thing to a meme you’re probably ever going to get on this blog.) This was mine:

Dear Jonathan Dresner

Hello! My name is N.M. I’m a Japanese student. I’m going to school to K. University in Japan. I found your e-mail address in your blog ( Now, I’m researching about Japanese food in foreign country. I thought you might be able to help me. I want to ask you three questions about Japanese Food. I’m sure you’re very busy, but could I ask you questions? It won’t take long.

1. What Japanese foods do you like?
2. What image do you have of Japanese foods?
3. Why and how has Japanese Food Boom occurred in foreign countries? If you know, please tell me.

I hope to hear from you.

N. M.

And here’s what I wrote back:

Dear Naoki,

I’ve lived in Japan for over three years, altogether, and I just took my family out for sushi tonight, here in Hilo. Hawai’i has a large Japanese immigrant population, and lots of Japanese tourists, so there is lots of great Japanese food here.

1. What Japanese foods do you like?

Sushi, obviously. Our favorite sushi shop here has a spiced tuna roll with macadamia nuts which is excellent, and lots of rolls with avocado, which grows here. I’m also very, very fond of unagi.

I’m also a great fan of okonomiyaki, but there’s only one okonomiyaki restaraunt that I know of in the United States. Fortunately, it’s in Honolulu, so I’ve gotten to eat it recently.

I never turn down tempura, or katsu, and we make Japanese-style curry rice at home about once a month. Here in Hawai’i, we combine a kind of futomaki O-nigiri with Spam to make “musubi.” I miss umeboshi onigiri, though.

2. What image do you have of Japanese foods?

Lots. I’ve been in dirty little noodle shops and shiny yakitori bars and beautiful tempura places and chanko-nabe restaraunts with tegata on the walls. I’ve eaten satsumaimo from a cart and roast corn at a local festival, and Mosburgers. I’ve eaten fish fresh from the ocean in ryokan and cool tofu at Kiyomizudera.

3. Why and how has Japanese Food Boom occurred in foreign countries?

People like variety. New foods are fun! Japanese food has some very new and different tastes. Some foods, like Sushi and tempura, are very adaptable, very easy to enjoy. I’m still hoping for an okonomiyaki boom, though.

Best of luck with your English class!

I’m not sure if that was the kind of response he was looking for….


  1. It’s sort of a 21st century version of being accosted on the subway with “Can I practice English with you?”

    I just hope they’re not being graded on whether or not someone writes back. On the other hand, a “thank you” note would have been nice…. Maybe that’s next semester’s lesson.

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