Already within one month of being active in business we were asked if we could be interviewed about our new business venture in Montevideo. We just had opened our doors for catering for authentic Japanese food and a weekly pick up menu. For sure we did not expect that the second largest newspaper in Uruguay would notice us so quickly, even less to contact us. For the curious ones, let me add the link with the article, but notice the article is in Spanish (but google translation does a good job)
We are for sure honored to be interviewed and furthermore receiving now so many wonderful feedback and advice about our food. More details can be found on
our Facebook site
our Twitter page
For sure we can give you as well some good laughs about the Spanish language mistakes we do on social media. Well we are still diligent Spanish learners.
Overall we are a very, very happy couple in Uruguay,
Sibylle & Kazuo Ito
Step by step we are adjusting to our new life in Montevideo in South America. End of last month we have moved finally to an unfurnished apartment. I must say our first apartment had been rather a disaster, but it had been a reasonable choice as a furnished apartment, when booking it from abroad. Now living in a better part of Montevideo our mood has improved, especially when finally our long awaited container had arrived. Thank goodness everything went smooth and we could neither find damages and luckily not even scratches. My huge compliment to the packers in Japan (more can be seen here).
For those who do not know it yet, my husband Kazuo Ito and me have set up this March a company in Montevideo with the goal to bring authentic Japanese food to Uruguay. The good news we have today is that since yesterday pequeñITO – our company focusing for the moment solely on catering – is up and running. At a later point when we have found the right location, which truly reflects our needs, we will set up a restaurant focusing on udon, sushi, curry and other Japanese soul food.
In case you are curious, we are happy to provide the information about our website with the menu details, our facebook account and our twitter account. We can only be grateful for the online response we have gotten so far. We can expect several bookings to come in soon, which certainly lifts our mood even further.
Basically long story short: We are truly happy here in Punta Carretas.
For sure we are a happy couple in Uruguay,
Sibylle & Kazuo Ito
There is a rather big gap between the last post in October and today. It all makes sense considering what we have done after long consideration: We have made a rather big step in our lives after planning it for years. End of January we have left Japan, but only after quite some hands on preparation and diligent study for our new life abroad. We want to make sure that we fulfill our dream abroad: Early February we have arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay. A lovely city in the heart of South America, where we plan to build up Japanese food service.
These days are filled with settling down, learning more Spanish and starting to get used to our environment and culture. For sure we are in a completely different environment compared to the places I have lived before. Of course the punctuality and cleanliness of Japan is gone, but for sure the Uruguayans are at least as nice and smiling as Californians, whose optimism I had enjoyed in Los Angeles. Furthermore connected to my upbringing in Switzerland, Montevideo is reminding me of an old era in Europe, when I had not been born yet. Overall it feels new and homey at the same time.
The first steps for our visa are behind us and in the meantime we are happy to say that our company got registered in Montevideo. Yes, so far we are content with the proceedings in our new adopted country. For sure we are working on fulfilling our dream. We expect soon to set up the website for our catering business for Japanese food, when we will set up at a later stage a Japanese take out shop in Montevideo.
While I cannot say anymore that I am reporting from within Japan about Japanese business culture and related topics, I am for sure still deeply connected with Japanese culture and food. Furthermore I am more than ever connected with udon due to all the training and work last year, plus with sushi through my husband, who is a fully trained and experienced sushi chef. Because our airfreight has arrived in the meantime, we are now ready to experiment and adjust Japanese cuisine with the local available ingredients. We will be for sure busy, but for sure we will announce when our website, facebook and twitter accounts are ready.
I hope you are excited as we are for our next big challenge in our new life in Montevideo.
Brought to you by a happy couple under the South American sun: Sibylle & Kazuo Ito
Since I have started my part-time job at a Japanese Udon chain, I am now exposed to a much more Japanese environment than ever before. So far I have worked at foreign owned companies in Japan or then at a very American style local employer. Even though I have worked for more than 11 years in Japan, these days I am learning a lot about different behavior and rules. Of course one can argue that now because I work in the food industry, which has very little in common with life science and chemical environment that I have been active so far, therefore my observations only seem to be new. I personally doubt, because my husband is doing the same observations.
For me the most impressive new rule is to recite the motto of the company every day in the morning including the guidelines of the company. This daily ritual forces everyone to remember what the goals of the employer are and the expectations for the employees. Due to privacy reasons I am not able to provide the lines that I say every morning, but I have been introduced to Gosei, which is used in some companies in the food industry. The origin of Gosei comes from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, but is presently used as well by the The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). The goal in the past was that every evening the cadets were expected to meditate over the questions below.
Hast thou not gone against sincerity
Hast thou not felt ashamed of thy words and deeds?
Hast thou not lacked vigor?
Hast thou exerted all possible efforts?
Hast thou not become slothful?
I can tell you for sure that my thoughts and intentions at work have changed and my customer focus has increased immensely. I thought I knew how to appreciate my customers, but I think I was pretty shallow compared to now. I am sincerely grateful to have the opportunity to experience my self selected apprenticeship and learn so much daily. My recommendation for you is just to try to recite these lines in the next few mornings. I am sure you will see a difference too.
Brought to you by a happy student,
Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)
P.S. Let me point out even though I am a pacifist, Gosei showed my an option on how to give my best daily.
Let me tell you, for sure I was excited and nervous this morning, because of my first day of my chosen apprenticeship. My goal is to get more hands on training for my favorite Japanese food: Udon. I am truly lucky that not only could I get a part-time job, but at the same time at my preferred store close to home. Actually I am now a new part-time worker at the major udon chain in Japan: Hanamaru-Udon. To make matters even better: I am trained by a true veteran, who has worked for years at 19 sites of Hanamaru-Udon.
Although my first day included only 3 hours of training it was much more challenging and tiring than I expected. Why? I did not expect that already on my first day I could stand in front of customers, but much more I expected to get my first training in the back. No, today I survived the first round of rush hour, when I am told that usually more than one hundred people are ordering their udon sets. To make matters even more intense, some of the customers have multiple orders. I wish I knew how many toppings, dashi or other additions I have supplemented to wonderful udon sold, but my brain went absolutely blank at the end. For sure today was a wonderful experience and I feel deeply indebted to my trainer for the patience and truly advanced skills in teaching. I cannot imagine how much I have learned today. For me it seems not a few hours have passed today, but days.
As a side note, I was happy to see the smiles of the local customers, who recognized me as a foreign newbie, plus I think I was easily forgiven for the slower than usual speed. On the good side, I could help several foreign customers, who did not speak Japanese. I never, ever had expected so many foreigners already coming to this udon shop. Hopefully with my presence we can increase the number of foreign udon fans.
Lets see what new challenges tomorrow will bring.
An immensely tired, but happy
After thinking long and hard, my hubby and I have decided that by end of January 2015 we will be leaving Japan and creating our new home in South America: Montevideo Uruguay. For sure we don’t want to lose the connection with Japan and its culture, which we both deeply about. Our new dream for the next part of our life: We will bring Japanese cuisine to Uruguay and setting up our own business. We will first on catering and then establishing our own shop.
Until then most likely we will be rather busy with final preparation, but please let us know if you think you have any good advice, connections in Japan, Switzerland or Uruguay that will help us with our endeavor. We will keep you posted about the process and when our website is up and running.
While my hubby had been already busy for months polishing his skills in Japanese cuisine, I had left my employer on September 25th. As our final tour of Japan in the meantime we have made a trip starting and ending in Nagoya covering all our favorite sites like Ise Jingu, Nachi, Koyasan, Asuka, Nara.
From tomorrow on I will be starting my self chosen apprenticeship with one major udon chain in Japan.
I fully understand that this might be a surprise, but let me tell you it is a long thought through process that had started in 2011.
Wish me luck on my first part time job in my life starting tomorrow,
One of my most favorite food in Japan is udon, no matter in which form (Sanuki udon, houto, kishimen, Goto udon, Yoshida udon…), cold, warm or hot, traditional or fusion style, I simply believe udon is the best soul food available in Japan. Did you know that most likely the oldest version of udon comes from the island Go near Nagasaki? Consequently it is called Goto udon. Can you imagine that the technique to make udon was imported from China most likely in the 8th century? At first udon was only food for the Japanese upper class, because it depended on having access to fine flour, which was made then with mortars. Only the upper class or monks – who drank as well macha – had a need for mortars. These essential mortars for flour making did not become easy available until many centuries later with the spread of wheat farming. If you are curious and love udon as much as I do, I highly recommend you to have a look at the video below. It is in English and shows a good overview why so many Japanese fell in love with udon.
Don’t you have to rush off to get your own bowl of udon now?
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)