My Japan Menu Huyen do

Japan most valuable resource is their human beings.

Those words of my 5th Grade Geography teacher still echo in my mind until now. Having been to Japan twice, once with my family and once in Sakura Exchange Program, I confidently confirm that the statement cannot be more true.

I believe that everyone can be drawn to Japan by its peculiar attraction, only in different ways. I, an amateur self-taught cook, usually consider Japan a unique menu, with flexible taste that will appeal differently to different people. This is a glimpse into my Japan menu. Bon appetite!

  1. Appetizer:

I got to know Japan when the Fukushima disaster happened in 2011. At that time, many people in my country considered Japan the worst place to live in. I was a little 12 years old girl, frightened by the news about the diaster, but, surprisingly, it was that earthquake which brought me closer to Japan. It piqued my interest on how Japanese could continue their lives normally after such an awful event so I followed the news closely and searched for information about Japan.

It turns out that Japan has been copping with natural disasters since many years ago, and among those disasters, the best features of its citizens are brought into light, like silky molten chocolate that oozes out from the center of lava cakes. If I had stopped at looking at only volcanoes eruptions, tsunami or earthquakes, I would have never been able to witness an admirable Japanese spirit. People manage to behave so calmly, orderly and warmly towards each other, which can hardly be seen in many places in the world. I came to admire the Japanese culture and spirit and found my motivation to research more about this amazing country.

2. Main dish:

A perfect blend of modernity and traditions
Photos taken in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto

No wonder Japan is known as one of the most developed countries in the world. Still, its cultural and historical heritage is well kept amid skyscrapers. When I first visted Tokyo in 2015, I was impressed with how many old architectures like Asakusa-kanon and Meiji temple or lifestyle like Kanda old books street blends peacefully with a rapid pace of life in a city like Tokyo. Compared with I have read in "Lost Japan", a book about vanishing Japanese ancient buildings and values written by Alex Kerr in 1972, I realize that the Japanese government and people have made efforts to preserve them.

The harmony of nature and humanity
Photos taken in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nagasaki

When I came to Japan for the first time, I was taken aback how Japan manages to preserve such beautiful nature as well as developing its economy and technology so well. Then, I discover it is the Japanese awareness of how to protect their environment that helps Japan do so. In last July Sakura Exchange Program, we had a chance to visit Shimabara Geopark, where, according to the guide, the Japanese preserved post-eruption remnants to remind their successors of the importance of disaster defense. I feel that my country and I too, still have many things to learn from Japan.

Living in a tropical country, I do not have any chance to see all 4 seasons. Luckily, I have been to Japan to experience spring with “sakura”-cherry blossom,

Sakura at Kiyomizu-dera

and Summer with orchestras of crickets,

And cool cool streams of water.

I would like to experience autumn with yellow ginko leaves and winter with white snow too. At the moment, I will just read my favorite picture book “Imagining Japan” by James M. Vardaman. This book provides detailed information about every parts of Japan with lively pictures.

In my 2 trips to Japan as well as various Japan-Vietnam students exchanges at my school, I made some observance of its people. In my opinion, the Japanese is a little bit quiet and reserved, but they are very energetic, dedicated and responsible. . Sometimes, I relate Japanese people to “taiyaki”. Their inner self is deep with many layers of emotions and thoughts, which makes famous writers like Dazai Ozamu ( my favorite) or Haruki Murakami.

Photos taken in Nagasaki and Ho Chi Minh city

They are also eager to learn and willing to improve themselves. Many Japanese students who have come to our school are not so good at English, but they always try their best to communicate and blend into the new environment. I think the Japanese spirit is highlighted on the background of beautiful but fierce nature while Japan’s nature is protected by its people.

3. Dessert

Japan of uniqueness
  • CuisineJapan has unique cuisine, a blend of Asian and European, but keeps their own food identity on the world food map, from world-famous food like sushi to street food that sold at yatai late at night or yakisoba, takoyaki, okonomiyaki or ringo ame in local festivals.
Curry rice, bento, manyaki, okonomiyaki and Tokyo Banana Pie bought in Sakura Exchange 2016
  • Manga and anime:This is probably one of the most famous industries of Japan. Actually, I have learned a lot about Japan via anime and manga( cuisine, traditions, festivals and some basic words and sentences). This source of entertainment also gives me a lot of stamina and motivation when I encounter hardship with well-structured and meaningful manga and anime.
My favorites!

4. Aftertaste:

Japan of Personal memories

I am fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time exposing myself to Japanese culture and people. My first trip to Japan is a family trip, mainly including “been here, done that” sight-seeing activities. Although in the first trip, I had already impressed by Japan’s beauty, elegance and development, not until the second trip-Sakura Exchange that I could really have a more complete view of Japan and create precious memories with the people here.

Sakura Exchange with Nagasaki Nishi High School, Nagasaki

During my stay in July, I was warmly welcomed and taken care of, as well as being able to interacting with friendly Japanese students and families. I did even build a long-distant friendship with my home-stay buddy, who still talks to me every day now via “Line”. In the beginning of December, she came to my school for an exchange program and we had a wonderful and memorable reunion!

Japan of motivation

In 2014, I went across an ice-skating video, featuring Hanyu Yuzuru competing in Grand Prix Cup of China. He was heavily injured but still determined to complete his free-skating program, with blood and tears shed. That image of him made him my idol and motivation, and I have started watching his performances since then.

Hanyu Yuzuru in Grand Prix Final 2014, 2015 and 2016

Back then when I began baking, I did not usually pay attention to the display of my creations, as long as they were edible. Watching Hanyu-senshu’s both technically accurate and elegantly refined skating urged me to rethink and therefore, I now focus on both the taste and look of the food I make. ^^He is one of my sources of motivation when coming up against challenges.


Knowing and being capable of exploring Japan is a blessing to me. This country always gives me a very heart-warming and familiarly comfortable feelings whenever I think of it.

Thank you for reading my story!

Most of the photos here ( except for Hanyu Yuzuru' photos I saved from Twitter) are taken and edited by me. Photos taken from the Internet have their links at the caption.

The videos are on my personal Youtube channel.

For any inquiries please contact me via :

Created By
Huyen Do


Please pay attention to my credit notes at the end!

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