Harumi Kurihara, Queen of Japan’s Housewives and Cooking/Lifestyle Coach, elevates domesticity into an art form

I first heard of Harumi in 2004 when I was consulting for a hotel in Kyushu. A popular Japanese food celebrity with her own line of cookware, television shows, magazines and restaurants, we thought it would be a great marketing ploy to have her come to our hotel for some programs. I was so busy working that I didn’t understand her popularity at that time. Her business empire and restaurants are called “Yutori no Kukan” (a space to relax). I recall seeing one of the restaurants at Canal City in Fukuoka. There were Japanese ladies in line, waiting to partake at Harumi’s buffet…lots of fresh vegetables and seasonal items. Healthy and tasty.

There was an article about her in the Honolulu Advertiser in 2006. Titled the “Martha Stewart of Japan,” Harumi denied that she was anything like Martha, an entrepreneur, but a regular Japanese homemaker with a husband and two children who enjoyed cooking for them. Having grown up in a very traditional Japanese family in Shimoda where her mother cooked all the family’s meals from scratch and still lives, she adopted her mother’s habits and did the same for her own family.

My husband started bringing back her quarterly magazine in 2007. He would buy it at Narita Airport at the end of his business trip. I could barely read her recipes at first. It was just too much of a hassle to read the Japanese much less change the grams to ounces, etc. You know what I mean. But the magazines are so well done, so classy and elegant. The pictures are beautiful and the themes are so heartwarming. Her recipes combine Japanese and western cooking and are very easy to understand. Her ideas are innovative, functional and practical. I like the concurrent topics in each magazine...something about her family, cooking with her mom at her Shimoda home, gourmet trips in Japan and abroad, gardening (flowers/plants/herbs), home decorating, dishes and cookware. The articles about her family are very personal and sometimes make me cry. Her recent article about her dad who passed away a few years ago really touched my heart. Her lifestyle magazine haru_mi celebrates the regular life of a typical homemaker in Japan. “Futsuu no kurashi ga tanoshii.” A regular lifestyle is enjoyable. I think that she motivates housewives to have fun and take pride in cooking and taking care of their families. She has elevated domesticity to an art form. Her concept of “yutori no kukan” or “a space to relax” is not a physical place but a state of mind, an attitude. I am at that point in my life where I can understand and appreciate that concept completely. Maybe that’s why I have connected with Harumi. I feel like I know her.

Traditional Japanese cooking and then...


Her family's favorite yakisoba (fried noodle dish) with komatsuna, shiitake and pork.

Harumi's mom at her traditional Japanese style home in Shimoda making saba no oborozushi (mackerel sushi).

I will be blogging some of her recipes as well as some of her recipes that I have altered to adapt to my liking in the future. She has cookbooks out in English too. I believe she visited Hawaii in the fall of 2007 which included a luncheon event at the Halekulani. I hope that she comes back soon.

The floral bouquet clearly depicts the beautiful colors of autumn in Japan.

Harumi's cookware

Simple and yet beautiful presentations

Harumi's potato salad, a part of her teishoku (complete meal) including pork ginger, sashimi, pickles, soup and rice.

Harumi's potato salad made by yours truly!

Harumi’s Potato Salad
This goes well with pork ginger. Her husband loves the blend of flavors when combining the two dishes. (These comments about her family...that's what makes the articles vivid.)

Ingredients (for 4)
4 potatoes (about 420 grams or 1 pound)
2 cucumbers
¼ round onion
2 slices of roast ham
powder bouillon, salt, pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise

1) Peel potatoes, cut in quarters. Soak in water, drain. Place a sheet of paper towel in bowl and put potatoes on top. Put plastic wrap. Nuke for 5 ½ minutes. (I had to nuke mine twice that time. Best to test.) Take towel out of bowl, mash up and sprinkle instant bouillon. Chill.
2) Slice cucumbers 5 mm (real thin). Put in bowl, sprinkle salt and let sit till tender. Drain.
Slice onion in half and in thin slices. Soak in water and drain.
Slice ham in small bite size.
3) Mix in bowl: potatoes, cucumber, onions, ham. Salt and pepper to taste.

It's so easy to make and has a "Japanese" taste to it. Itadakimasu!

Honolulu Festival

Harumi's Yutori no Kukan

The Contemporary Museum (TCM) at First Hawaiian Center

The Honolulu Festival Foundation board meetings are held every other month on the 30th floor of the First Hawaiian Bank in downtown Honolulu. Before our meeting I was able to spend some time at The Contemporary Museum (TCM) at First Hawaiian Center. TCM in Honolulu, located at the bank and at the primary campus in the former Cooke-Spalding house and gardens in residential Makiki Heights, is the only museum in Hawaii devoted exclusively to contemporary art. The exhibits rotate frequently.

Hiroki (Earth Cycle)

Setsuko (acrylic and ceramic)

TCM at First Hawaiian Center opened in 1996 and showcases art by current or former resident artists of Hawaii. The galleries are located in the banking area on the first floor and on the second floor. What is so nice is that you can visit TCM after your banking and view the beautiful works of art. The works of the Morinoue Family of the Big Island are being displayed from now until January 9, 2010. They represent the works of the father Hiroki, mother Setsuko and daughter Miho. The colors are vibrant and the themes are very earthy. I am clueless when it comes to appreciating art but I felt very comfortable and peaceful viewing the Morinoue family’s treasures. Each artist is unique and yet there are similarities. I enjoyed each artists' work but liked Miho’s paintings focused around bed, bedroom and sleep. Isn’t it wonderful that the Morinoues can enjoy so much talent all in one family?

Miho's work

Please take some time out of your busy schedule and stroll through the TCM at First Hawaiian Center. Consider it a treat for your soul and mind.

I am an American (Hiroki)

I am a Male and Female

Honolulu Festival

The Contemporary Museum


Likeke Trail, enter from the parking lot of Ko'olau Golf Course

I had the opportunity to hike Likeke Trail recently with a group of friends. The leader of the hike is my cousin’s friend Debbie. She was kind enough to invite me to join her group. Debbie is also the same person who got me to go up Makiki Trail a while back. What I like about her “tour” is that she studies the importance of the area and its relevance to the Native Hawaiians ahead of time and tells us her stories as we hike. She also prefers light hikes and shady areas…right up my alley! I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

It was a moderate paced two hour hike (that includes time for breaks) and we were able to stop along the way to view the plants, trees, flowers, Kane'ohe Bay and the Ko'olau and even the Pali Road. What impressed me the most was walking on part of the Old Pali Road (I didn’t grow up in Hawaii and have only heard about it so it’s a big deal), walking through the jungle of hau trees, the beautiful views of the mountains and bay, stopping at the Hi'ilaniwai Falls and honoring the heiau of Chief Maunahuia that was surrounded by the largest mango trees that I have ever seen.

I enjoyed the kukui, awapuhi, yellow ginger plant that looks like a candle/beehive, African tulip, the cobblestones and the streams of water trickling down the paths.

Many parts of the hike seemed like we were walking through a jungle. The hau trees form jungle-like thickets and grow everywhere. I have been told that the wood was once used to make outriggers for canoes. The creeping thickets are also great for wind-breaks.

About thirty minutes into the hike you can hear the sound of water. The sound gets louder and louder and you can see water trickling down the path. And pretty soon...it's the Hi'ilaniwai Falls, so soothing and wonderful. People go into the water to cleanse and heal themselves. It is supposed to be good for your soul, washing away all the bad things physically, mentally and spiritually. I must remember to wear my bathing suit next time. So awesome! Really the best.

We ran into a Hawaiian tour guide who was kind enough to share some of his stories about the taro patches that once surrounded the waterfalls. He also spoke of the heiau and how babies were sacrificed at this heiau.

Here are some of the other beautiful views.

I’d like to go back soon so that I can familiarize myself with the trail so I will be able to take others on this beautiful hike. Mahalo Debbie.

Honolulu Festival