Here is Maho, at the beach in Santa Barbara

When we first met Maho, she was the best waitress ever. She worked at our favorite Japanese restaurant in Santa Barbara. She used to fold our chopstick wrappers into tiny cranes for us to use as chopstick rests.

She visited Kathy at the Beach Arts and Crafts Show in Santa Barbara and gave her this beautiful flower painting made by her Grandmother. Kathy and Rick have it framed in their home in Santa Barbara. She is holding a little box with a jewelry present from Kathy. We have missed her since she moved to New York to have a different experience. She wrote to us and told us the things we should look for when we went to Kyoto three years ago.

One thing she told us was important was to try OKONOMIYAKI.

It is a Japanese 'pancake' made from a mixture of grated cabbage, potato, egg, and flour. Then, various topping choices are added. (See below.)

The Okonomiyaki are specialty of her home town of Okayama. Okayama. Okayama is located little east from Osaka, one hour from Osaka by Super Express Shinkansen. She said we would find it in Kyoto.
At first we could not find it. But near the end of our stay, a young man, Akira (pictured here with Kathy at the restaurant) found us looking at a map for the Contemporary Art Museum, and offered to show us the way. For two days he came to our hotel, and in exchange for 'practicing his English' he showed us many things we would not have seen otherwise. We asked him about Maho's favorite Okonomiyaki. He knew where to go. It was a specialty restaurant, and all that was served was variations of this dish. It was prepared on each table which was fitted with an individual grill. Our OKONOMIYAKI TOPPINGS were bonito (tuna) shavings and ground pork. We also had a calamari topping.
On each table (you can see the little shakers in the photo above). These were things to sprinkle on top: Dried red chili pepper, dry seaweed sprinkles; in the white bottles: miso sauce, hot or sweet. Okonomiyaki were really not like anything else, and very delicious! We were so glad we found them.

The young man who helped us find them came to our hotel the next day and took us to various places in Kyoto that we did not know about. Before we left he gave us several gifts. One was a package of very colorful origami papers.

When we planned our wedding celebrations later that month, we sent those origami papers to Maho, and she to made them into little cranes for favors at our family dinner.

She was planning to bring them, but when she could not come, she mailed bundles of beautiful little cranes, that streamed out of their packages into our hands to decorate our tables. Our family and friends still cherish them.

Go to our second trip to Kyoto July, 2004
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