Important Covid-19 Update. Our client’s safety is important to us, and travel will resume when the travel ban (including the 14-day quarantine) is lifted both in Japan and the United States. Next Spring, we will offer two “off the beaten track” tours to escape the large cities and to enjoy the rural parts of Japan. First, is Textiles of Kyushu, a unique opportunity to experience Japanese culture and textile in the southern island of Japan. Second is Edible Japan, which will be a modified version of the original Culinary Tour with an extra day in the Shinshu region with sake brewery tour, miso making and knife shop visits. Stay well and be safe.

October 2019 Newsletter

Tanpopo Studio Newsletter October 2019

Hello Friends,

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful fall days. I have just returned from the much anticipated Textile and Traditional Arts Tour to Japan with Textile Center and can not tell you how much fun we had together. Please read the recap to learn more about this trip.

We also have an exciting announcement about our upcoming Spirits of Japan, Southern Alps & Kyoto Tour. This trip is a collaboration with Sam Haislet from Alexias Vineyard, the oldest and most award-winning winery in Minnesota. An avid Japanese sake and whisky fan, Sam is currently an acting consultant at Kowalski’s Wine Shop in St. Paul.

Lastly, our hearts go out to those who were hit by the recent typhoon in Japan. We wish them a safe and swift recovery.

Spirits of Japan Tour | Tanpopo Studio

Spirits of Japan, Southern Alps & Kyoto

Registration Now Open!

Registration is now open for the Spirits of Japan, Southern Alps & Kyoto Tour this spring. We are planning on hosting an informational meetup for those interested in joining us. Please email for event details.

Trip Highlights

  • Welcome Dinner
  • Tour of the Tsukiji Fish Market and have sushi for lunch
  • Visit Yebisu Brewery
  • Experience Zen Culture at the historic Zenkoji Temple in Nagano
  • Tour Matsumoto Castle, Ishii Miso Brewery and the Museum of Art
  • Visit Shichikan Sake in Yamanashi
  • Suntory Hakushu Whisky Distillery Tour
  • Soba Making Workshop
  • Farm stay in Yamashi
  • Visit Komagadake National Park
  • Tour of the famous Gekkeikan Brewery in Kyoto
  • Kyoto Sightseeing
  • Kaiseki Dinner and Maiko Performance

2019 Tanpopo Studio Textile Tour

2019 Textile and Traditional Arts Tour Recap

After over a year of planning and coordination with Textile Center, this fiber arts focused trip kicked off on September 29th with 13 travelers!

This group of humble and talented people made this tour extremely special and memorable. We traveled to big cities and countryside towns alike, and visited many small studios and shopped tons!

We had many unscheduled events that surprised us throughout the trip including the Antique Flea Market, Allan West Studio, SAORI Weaving workshop and the Little Indigo Museum.

I have more pictures and details from the trip on my Instagram feed. Check it ou!

If you are interested in joining us next year, please contact

What’s Cooking

Salmon Nanbanzuke
This month over at our food blog we have a recipe for Nanbanzuke using king salmon from Sitka Salmon Shares and it is delicious. Nanbanzuke is often made with fried fish (sardines and mackerel) with sliced onions and marinated in a sweet vinaigrette with chili pepper. The word Zuke means to marinate.

Nanbanzuke Style Salmon with Celery and Onion



Kowai Weaving Studio, Textile Tour


September 2019 Newsletter

Farm Taable | Tanpopo Noodle Newsletter

Happy September,

I cannot believe it is September already. The end of summer means starting of the harvest season, and I have been keeping busy at the Frogtown Farm harvesting vegetables and preparing samples for the market on Saturdays.

I’ll be booking my tickets for spring tours soon as IACE travel is having their fall Mega Sale on Saturday Sep. 29th from 9-4 pm only. Give them a call as I have purchased many affordable tickets to Japan from IACE.

Japan Art + Culture Tour, April 2019

This is a 7 day tour from Tokyo to Matsumoto with an additional extension to Kyoto. Matsumoto is a hotbed of arts, is also the birthplace of several well known Japanese artists including Yayoi Kusama. It’s also home to one of Japan’s finest feudal era castles.. Read more about Matsumoto and this tour on our blog.

Culinary Guide to Japan Tour, June 2019

I’ve been fortunate to lead several Culinary Tours this year, and have received some kind words from travelers. Thank you! We start in Ginza, Tokyo with a fish market tour and sushi class and make our way to Nagano for a temple stay and introduction to vegetarian cooking. After a morning visit to the Zensoji Temple, we tour a wasabi farm in near the Japan Alps, and stay at a traditional hot spring Ryokan for a kaiseki style dinner. The next day we learn how to make hand-made soba noodles and tour the scenic Suntory Hakushi distillery. The last night we stay at Shuji Tanka’s historic inn and community garden in the quaint mountain town of Yamanshi.

Chicken Kara-age

What’s Cooking in September

Fried chicken known as Kara-age is a popular dish in Japan. Deep fried but not greasy because the word Kara comes from a word empty, meaning there is no batter, just a simple combination of garlic, ginger, soy, sake, sesame oil and cornstarch.

Amish Buggy on Road



今回訪ねたのはミネソタ州に隣接する酪農やチーズ作りで知られるウィスコンシン州にあるウェスビーという地域です。私の住んでいる町、セイントポールから車で約三時間、オーガニック・ファーミングで知られるこの地域に集落で暮らしているオールド・オーダー”というアーミッシュを訪ねる旅でした。”オールド・オーダー” とはアーミッシュの中でも特に昔からの規律や伝統を重んじている保守的なアーミッシュです。もちろん電気製品や電気の使用は厳しく制限されているので各家庭の敷地内には風車やバキーがあり馬が飼われています。彼らは自然の多いこの地域で昔ながらの伝統を守り、農業、クラフト、チーズやメープルシロップ作りなどで生計を立てています。もちろん彼らの作るキルトや果物のビン詰めを購入することもできますよ。朝バギーの音で目がさめる、そんな開拓時代にタイムスリップしたかのような2日間した。



August 2019 Newsletter

Farm Taable | Tanpopo Noodle Newsletter

Happy August,

I hope this newsletter finds everyone well. TanpopoStudio slowed down a bit as we all enjoy summer activities outside. Our family had a wonderful time picking gooseberries and making jam to preserve for the winter ( personally, they are so delicious they will not last until the winter….). We have been visiting the countryside, kayaking and canoeing at more than ten thousand beautiful lakes we have here in Minnesota.

Starting next month, I’m going to be helping out at the Frogtown Farm, a certified organic city farm in St. Paul providing educational setting for kids and adults alike. I will be making samples using seasonal and local vegetables with touch of “Japan” as well as be a part of farm events. We will have more on this, so stay tuned.

Speaking of farms, we are starting a new series on introducing some small farmers and business owner’s who we meet on our tours to Japan. We asked people five questions to share their values and opinions. This month, we are featuring the owner of Izumi En, a community garden and inn in Yamanashi prefecture.


What’s Cooking in August

Summer is a time of abundance and we have a delicious recipe using cabbage this month. Okonomiyaki is not only yummy but healthy and easy to make.

Japan Art + Culture Tour, April 2019

We’ve just opened this for registration. This is a 7 day tour from Tokyo to Matsumoto with an additional extension to Kyoto. Matsumoto, a hotbed of arts, is also the birthplace of several well known Japanese artists including Yayoi Kusama. It’s also home to one of Japan’s finest feudal era castles.. Read more about Matsumoto and this tour on our blog.

Classes and Events

Ramen Know How
Thursday, September 20th at 6 pm at Cooks of Crocus Hill, Saint Paul. Getting ready for chilly Minnesota winter by learning how to make your own Ramen and Dumplings with us.

More classes to come at Seward Coop in September. Stay tuned!.

August Monthly Meetup

Thursday, August 23 at Quixotic Coffee Shop. Free event and everyone is welcome but seats are limited. Please R.S.V.P to to reserve your seats.

Happy Travels,
Koshiki and Benjamin Smith


American Pie










July 2018 Newsletter

Culinary Guide to Japan, Izumi Inn 2018

Happy July,
I have been back in the US for about two weeks now after finishing another round of our Culinary Tour of Japan. Weather was perfect with lush of greens and signs of summer everywhere. Food was delicious as always and we enjoyed freshly fried tempura, seasonal seafood, lots of Japanese sweets and local sake and wines. We also took time to explore a depachika or the basement of a department store as this is a much different experience in Japan. These areas are packed with food vendors of all kinds selling delicious things such as desserts, fresh vegetables, pickles, seafood, tea, ice cream and lots more.

My brother Kai joined us in Nagano and Yamanashi and gave us an insider scoop on life in rural Japan as he lives in Yamanashi prefecture. It’s a scenic area with wineries, ski areas, wasabi farms, mountains, and a thriving arts and crafts community. On the last trip, I was too tired to check out public hot spring in Suwa, but this time after dinner I walked to the nearby hot spring to “wash off my tiredness” (this is a Japanese phrase, tsukare wo arai nagasu). The town of ShimoSuwa (Suwa consists of ShimoSuwa and KamiSuwa) itself has over 10 public hot springs and 5 foot springs (not counting private hot springs ), and heavily used by locals.

On my visit, I purchased a ticket, which was about two dollars for an adult, I took my shoes off and put them in a cubby. Then I handed a ticket to a clerk and entered women’s changing room. At 7 o’clock in the evening this place was packed (at least on women’s side) with families with kids, high school girls, grandmas and others, like me. We have a post about hot spring etiquette on our website, to help you prepare for a visit.

In June, I had a wonderful opportunity to spend one-on-one time with people who share same passion as TanpopoStudio has, to help preserve Japanese local food and culture by providing hands on experience to people from Japan and other countries alike. In the August Newsletter, I will introduce some of the creative and talented people we are working with in Japan who have helped make TanpopoStudio happen, so stay tuned.

Here is what’s happening at TanpopoStudio.

Japan Art + Culture Tour, April 2019

We’ve just opened this for registration. This is a 7 day tour from Tokyo to Matsumoto with an additional extension to Kyoto. Matsumoto, a hotbed of arts, is also the birthplace of several well known Japanese artists including Yayoi Kusama. It’s also home to one of Japan’s finest feudal era castles.. Read more about Matsumoto and this tour on our blog.

Classes and Workshops

Don’t forget to join us for delicious and informative Japanese food and sake pairing at Cooks of Crocus Hill. We will be sampling sake from Shizuoka and Hyogo prefecture. Kanpai!

Sake it To Me!
July 21st at 6 pm at Cooks of Crocus Hill, Saint Paul

Happy Travels,
Koshiki and Benjamin Smith




TanpopoStudio June Update

Farm Taable | Tanpopo Noodle Newsletter

Happy June

I’m just about to start the June, Culinary Guide to Japan tour, and very excited about the trip. While I have a few moments, I wanted to share with you some of the good things happening at TanpopoStudio.

We have a new video! from the Spring Culinary Guide to Japan tour. This short film showcases the trip and what it’s all about. A big thanks to Jakfoto Films for making this possible!

Tanpopo Studio Team in Suwa
Kai and Koshiki Taking a Break in Suwa

Culinary Guide to Japan Tour, October 2018

October marks the beginning of the harvest season and this is a great time to visit Japan. Enjoy a fall walk in the Kiso Valley, relax in a hot spring and savor a regional Kaiseki dinner. If you are interested in joining us, you can register online or send me an email. Hope to see you in Japan.

Japan Art + Culture Tour, Spring 2019

If you’d like to learn more about the upcoming Art and Culture Tour this spring, please join us at Wet Paint Art at the end of month for another meetup (with tea and crackers). We’ll be posting the exact date as soon as possible. If you’re interested in attending, let me know and I will update you. We’ve received some great feedback during our last meeting, and a few spaces have already been reserved. So if you’re interested, don’t miss your chance to see Tokyo, Nagano and Matsumoto. We’ve also added a 3 day optional extension to Kyoto on this tour for those of you who would like to stay longer in Japan.

Tokyo Ramen Crash Course

Private groups of 6-8 are welcome. If you have a group of friends who want to learn ramen making in Japan, we can book this according to your schedule and you’ll receive a group discount as well.

We’ll be announcing Spring tour dates for the Tokyo Ramen Crash Course in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Classes and Workshops

The Sushi Smiths
June 30th at 6pm at Cooks of Crocus Hill, St. Paul
Sake it To Me!
July 21st at 6pm at Cooks of Crocus Hill, St. Paul

Happy Travels,
Koshiki and Benjamin Smith

Testing Archive