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

1 comment:

Newton Avelino (Artista Plástico) said...

Your blog is wonderful, I really enjoyed ... very beautiful ...

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