Some of you may remember the photo above. It was the first Tokyo Terrace header. Four years ago, I was sitting in my tiny apartment in Tokyo, Japan preparing to post my very first entry on my very first food blog. Over the years, I was able to document many of the wonderfully strange, difficult, and beautiful moments during our time in Tokyo. I was still wading out of a sea of culture shock, and that first blog post symbolized my attempt to channel all the confusion I felt about living (and cooking) in a new country. This would eventually help me find a sense of normalcy in the midst of so many unfamiliar aspects of our life in Japan.
Today, during a very brief trip away from Denver, I am sitting in my parents’ house in Minnesota. There is a roaring fire in the fireplace and snow piling up outside the window. It’s so cozy and familiar and completely foreign, because it in no way resembles the way I’ve spent the past four winters. It doesn’t sound like much time, but it is amazing how much those four years impacted my life. I often reflect on the beginning of our time in Tokyo, remembering the awkwardness of going through the checkout at the grocery store or trying to ask someone for help finding the correct platform at the train station. I was in a perpetual state of culture shock. Still, Japan became home for me. I may not have learned to speak or read the language fluently, but I could get around on my own. I grew to know more about the food than I ever thought possible, and I started to anticipate the changing of Japan’s seasons based on the featured foods at the market.
Just as things seemed to become second nature, we moved away. In June of 2012, we left our beloved Japan and became Coloradans. Strangely enough, I have been feeling the same overwhelming confusion and general culture shock. Culture shock was not something I anticipated experiencing after moving back to the country where I grew up. I speak the language, I know which side of the road to drive on, and I’m back to shopping in the grocery stores I longed for when we first arrived in Tokyo. And yet, I miss the artificial sakura branches that adorned the aisles of every grocery store this time of year, and the explosion of seasonal foods all across the city of Tokyo as the leaves changed from summer green to autumn’s blazing red and orange. I miss the huge selection of hot pot ingredients as the air turned crisp and cold in winter. Each season brought something completely unique and wonderful. I will always miss those little things that gave Tokyo so much character.
Beginning this blog was the best decision I made during those first months in Japan. It provided more than I ever expected, bringing new friends and opportunities to my life. As I navigate my way out of the haze of reverse culture shock, which has, in some ways, been more difficult the second time around, I find myself seeking a similar outlet. As a result, a new food blog has been born: Set the Table. At Set the Table, I will share recipes easy enough to serve to your family on weeknights, along with simple ideas for entertaining your friends and family. And, for those of you who have been missing it, Cocktail Friday will make it’s triumphant return. No matter where your home may be, the most meaningful moments often happen while sharing a meal around the table. And the first step toward these special moments is the simple task of setting the table.
Tokyo Terrace just isn’t right outside of Japan, but it will not disappear completely. I will put the occasional post here on this site, but the majority of my stories, photographs and recipes will have a new home. It’s a cozy little corner of the food blogging community that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I already do!
While this certainly isn’t good bye, I would be remiss if I did not say thank you to all of you who have given me the confidence, the community, and the motivation to continue blogging. Whether you are a faithful reader or a fellow food blogger-turned-friend, I want to say that I could not, would not, do this without you. There is no way for me to express how much all of you have helped me through so many life transitions. So now, we “set the table” and gather around a new place where old friends are honored and new friends are discovered.