1.Where do you live and why did you choose to live there?
During the week I live in Shibaura, in Tokyo, and on the weekends I return to Hayama in Kanagawa Prefecture. My home is in Hayama but my restaurants – and my work – are in Tokyo so I stay there when it is convenient for work. Since I was born and grew up in Hayama, I have many old friends there. And as my hobbies are surfing and fishing, Hayama is a place that I particularly love.
2. Do you have a local haunt in Japan? A café or bar? Somewhere you go for comfort food or just a chat with the proprietor?
In Shibaura, I often go to a soba restaurant called Kakashi. The couple who own the place are friends. The husband makes the soba and the wife cooks the other dishes. Her cooking is delicious and goes so well with sake.
In Hayama, I go to a fish restaurant called Najima. The main reason I go there is that it’s right near my house, but they do serve really fresh local fish.
I also go to places that serve set meals in Kamakura, such as Nakanosaka and Sahan. The elderly chef at Nakanosaka makes meticulously prepared dishes with ingredients he carefully selects, so you can enjoy excellent food, which is a rare treat in Kamakura, because it is very touristy. The food and tableware at Sahan are sophisticated and high quality. The woman who owns the place cooks everything herself and it is all very original and delicious.
3.Do you have a favorite store (for food, clothes, etc.) and what kind of clothes/accessories/interior goods etc. do you like to shop for?
Nowadays, we mostly shop for our daughter. That is when I take the opportunity to buy things for myself. We sometimes go to Odaiba in Tokyo or Yokohama Bayside Marina. For food, there is the Sajima fishing port, which is a short drive by car from Hayama. There is a fishmonger there called Maruyoshi Shoten, where we buy freshly caught fish to cook at home. Sometimes we use a whole fish to make an acqua pazza-style dish. I also recommend the fresh wakame seaweed and hijiki seaweed harvested in the spring.
4. What is a favorite pastime in Japan and where do you like to pursue it?
In Hayama, if the waves are good, I go surfing. If there are no waves, I might go fishing. Recently, I have been enjoying stand-up paddling with my daughter. On my days off, I usually walk to the beach with my family and spend time relaxing there. I also love cooking, so when I am at home I cook, sometimes for a party with friends.
5. What do you like to do on a nice day in Japan?
These days I go by motorbike with friends to surf in Chiba prefecture. Along the way, we take our bikes on the ferry to the other side of Chiba where it is so much fun to ride our bikes through the fields or along mountain roads and the coast. On a sunny day, I make it a point to drive my motorbike rather than my car.
6. On a day with perfect weather where would you choose to go for a walk in Japan and why?
The beach in Hayama. It never tires me because the sea looks different depending on the season or the time of day.
7.Do you have a favorite museum (or any other cultural spot)?
Nogi Shrine in Nogizaka, which is near Roppongi. I often walk past the shrine on my way to work and back, so sometimes I stop there to rest. It’s so full of lush greenery that it’s hard to believe it is in the middle of a big city. There is the house that Count Maresuke Nogi and his wife lived in and it tells the story of their tumultuous lives but nowadays it is also a hangout for a girls’ idol group called Nogizaka48.
8. What is your favorite Japanese food?
I like traditional Japanese home cooking.
9. Where would you go for a special meal in Japan?
Nowadays I go to La Canca in Roppongi Hills. It’s a Chinese restaurant that isn’t well known yet so it’s a hidden gem.
10. Do you have a favorite onsen ryokan, resort, etc. in Japan?
I go to Ishikawa Prefecture two or three times a year to pay my respects at my father’s grave, but each time I visit I go to different onsen and ryokan. There are nice ryokan and onsen in Yamanaka Onsen and Yamashiro Onsen but my favorite is Yuyado Sakamoto, an onsen ryokan on the tip of Noto Peninsula. The food is just fantastic.
11. What is a favorite thing you bought recently in Japan (if possible, something related to Japan)?
According to the Chinese concept of “The Four Pillars of Destiny,” (a type of astrology) this is an extremely lucky year for me so I bought a new wallet, briefcase, new curtains and other personal effects. It was really a good feeling to have all these new things.
12. What book/film about Japan would you recommend?
“The Total Philosophy and Practices of Nobuzoh Mori.” It helps you understand what Japanese people are really like.
13. What would you take from Japan to a friend overseas as a gift?
Karinto (deep fried Japanese sweet made with brown sugar) from Ginza Tachibana.
14. What places in Japan would you recommend to friends from overseas?
My top three would be Hayama, Noto Peninsula, and Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
What do you like about living in (visiting) Japan?
The fact that you can enjoy all four seasons. Especially since fresh food constantly changes with the seasons and it is possible to taste ingredients when they are at their best. For that, rather than living in cities such as Tokyo, it’s better to be near the ocean or mountains. And to travel. Because even in Japan the kind of fish you can catch or the vegetables that are grown differ from place to place so there is a lot to discover when you go to different places. The difference in food culture, the varying ways in which food is cooked, or seasoned, the sake that people drink with their food and even the tableware is different. I think traveling in the country, which enables you to experience the cultural depth of Japan, is a wonderful experience.
Keiji Mori’s restaurants are :
Ginza Maru : https://maru-mayfont.jp/
Maru Bengara : https://maru-mayfont.jp/store-information/maru-bengara/