27 March 2012

Our Japanese Kitchen

When we moved, one of the things I was most excited for was our new kitchen. In our old apartment, the kitchen was one of my least favorite elements. It had charm, for sure, but it also had drawers and cabinets that wouldn't close, a fridge that literally sat on the countertop (and lacked a real freezer and didn't -- truth be told -- keep food all that cold). Its walls were dingy white; it had an exhaust fan that had a bird's nest in it, all the drawer handles, no matter how many times you screwed them on, were somehow always loose. The one redeeming quality was the porcelain farmhouse sink. That sink! Oh, it was a good sink. Well, until the pipe cracked and created a rust stain. Even that couldn't completely ruin the charm.

A sink, even that one, can only keep you going so long. After four years, I was ready to move on.

my grandfather's rolling pin and a hand carved cake stand we received as a wedding gift

When we were house hunting in Japan, I was pretty picky about the kitchen space. I didn't need huge sizes or massive cupboards; I was used to smaller spaces and wanted to keep it that way. I wanted space on the countertops, a good flow, and to not be cut off in a galley.

While the kitchen in our new place isn't perfect (it's a little narrow for two people to comfortably work, unfortunately), it's more than manageable and I'm smack dab happy with it. All the drawers slid shut gracefully and quietly; the countertops are smooth, spacious, and easy to clean; the sink, while not porcelain, is large and roomy enough to wash dishes; the breakfast counter and window flows to the living room; the fridge sits squarely on the ground. I confess to a content little sigh every time I walk into it.

We brought over an IKEA butcher block island for the one wall that didn't have anything on it. I looked at Natori and other Japanese shops and couldn't find what I was looking for. IKEA had it for $199 and it fit within inches. Some things are meant to be.

I don't know if I mentioned it before, but rental apartments in Japan lack all appliances, right down to the light fixtures. Renters buy them and move them with them as they go. It's annoying from our perspective, as we only plan to rent one Japanese apartment at this juncture of our lives, but I guess it makes sense from a long term rental perspective. At least it prevents crappy appliances from 1970 marring an otherwise decent apartment. Perhaps? I don't know; I don't make it a habit to ask too many questions of why things are done they way they are here. They just are, I accept, and we bought new appliances, including a new refrigerator. Oh, our refrigerator. Happy sigh.

It has an upper part, full of drawers and shelves, which is big news for us when you consider what we're coming from. What's more, it has a whole pull out crisper drawer for all the vegetables my little heart could ever want (and that Amos could ever stomach). It has an ice (!) maker (!!), a quick freeze drawer, and a pull out freezer. It's full of fancy buttons that we've labeled in English and whose function I only vaguely understand. It's only full of beer, peanut butter, eggs, and jam at this moment, but I have big plans for its future. Wait for it.

We don't have a dishwasher or garbage disposal, which after so long without one, I hardly even notice. Non issue for the two of us; we're not hard to impress at this point in our lives.

The only real downside to this beautiful kitchen of ours is the oven... or lack thereof. Every single place we looked at only had a fish grill, which is to say a teeny-tiny little broiler oven used to cook a fillet. That's it. I was used to half sized ovens, but even this is beyond my experience. We could have purchased an oven/steamer/microwave as an additional appliance, but they are rather bulky. In the end, Amos and I opted for the counter space instead. After all, we did recently get a toaster oven that does have degree settings up to 450. Between that and the fish grill - and some creative thinking and appropriately sized dishes and pans - I think we can make it work.

See the little thing to the left, under the stove? THAT is our oven...

I'm moving forward with optimism and bravado on that count. Get ready.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man. Our Turkish kitchen is much the same - we've got what is essentially an easy-bake oven balanced on top of the fridge. Which, aside from being way too small for most things I'd like to use an oven for, can't possibly be all that excellent for the poor fridge.

    And yet we soldier on... I hope your toaster did the trick.


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