My Japanese journey probably began when a small shop opened up in my hometown of Nottingham
I bought my very first pair of hashi (chop sticks). It was around this time in 1986 that I became vegetarian.
I studied illustration and business at Cambridge University after doing a two-year course doing a diploma in art and design. After this I started a greetings card business and did freelance for companies such as Greenpeace, then I started a jewellery retail store in 1996 visiting India and many other countries to buy stock. All this time I still had a love for Japan, even making our home and garden Japanese themed but never actually ever being able to go there.
I always had a goal that on my 40th birthday I would go. This was my first trip and it was everything I thought it would be but I had done no research on food to eat and even though I was only vegetarian at the time I really struggled, I didn’t read or speak any Japanese and I was so hungry. The hotel breakfast was my saviour, that and Inari.
When I came back I set out determined to go again but this time make sure I researched where to eat and made a point of learning some Japanese. My next visit was for the cherry blossom season in 2013, I was a lot more organised this time and it was one of the most memorable times of my life. The Sakura (cherry blossom) memories in Tokyo and Kyoto will stay with me forever. I came home and started to plan my next trip we went again next year July 2014
In the winter of 2012 was when I became vegan. It started off with a food allergy and at this point I only decided to eliminate foods from my diet and reintroduced them but I felt so good I never did. Then I started to research more about veganism and the whole ethical way of life. I really don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.
I thought like many that being vegetarian was enough and that animals were not harmed for milk and eggs and wool etc ( I was so wrong! ) After watching many documentaries like cowspiracy and forks over knives there was no doubt in my mind that becoming vegan is the right choice ( not just for animals but for our environment)
In May 2013 I started Instagram and that’s when I started to get an interest in cooking, as my Instagram progressed and my trips to Japan more often I found that I was missing Japan. I found that making Japanese food was my way of keeping close to Japans seasons and traditions. With me having a vegan diet I set out to make vegan Japanese inspired food and this is where I am today. I’m not a chef or a teacher I’m just someone who uses my creative background to now make vegan Japanese inspired meals. Over the past few years visiting Japan and being on Instagram I have formed some amazing friendships and with those friends we do food swap parcels which is a great way of being able to get ingredients from Japan that are hard to find in the UK.
I hope that one day I might be able to live in Japan for a while and yes I still have that first pair of chop sticks though now very worn out.
I have also put a travel section on my blog . If you are thinking of ever visiting Japan I hope you may find some inspiration of places to visit.
Contact Me:- Justine@tokyopony.com