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.

March 2018 Newsletter

Cherry Blossoms | Tanpopo Studio

Happy March!

March is a month of celebration in Japan starting with Hinamatsuri (Doll/Girl’s Day) on March 3. It’s a day to wish and pray for girl’s wealth and happiness. March is also a month to celebrate early arrival of Spring. Cherry blossoms can be seen in many parts of Japan and it’s a reminder that Spring is just around the corner. Mizuna, bamboo shoots, udo, burdock and strawberries become available. How about sakura wine from Yamanashi prefecture?

Here is what is happening with Tanpopo Studio this month.

Tanpopo Studio Monthly Meetup

The first monthly meetup was a delicious success talking about all things ramen. Thank you for all the people who came and contributed to the meeting. This month’s meetup is scheduled for March 20th from 7-8pm at Quixotic Coffee Shop in Highland Park, Saint Paul. The topic is Travel Japanese. Learn some essential Japanese language skills for traveling. All are welcome. No experience necessary.

It is free, but space is limited. Please send us an email if you are interested in attending.

Upcoming Tours to Japan

June – Culinary Tour of Japan
Tsukiji Fish Market is planning to move this summer and this might be your last chance to see it all. Hope to see you there as this is a great time of the year to travel to Japan. On the 4th night of the tour, we will be relaxing at a traditional Onsen Ryokan, and enjoy a kaiseki style dinner.

June – Tokyo Ramen Crash Course
We still have room for this one of it’s kind ramen adventure. Bring a friend along and learn the “know how” of ramen.

Please send me an emai, if you are interested.

Make A Reservation Online
Or send an email to

Classes and Workshops

Sake it to me!
March 9th at 6pm at Cooks of Crocus Hills, St. Paul

Spring Sushi
March 17th at 6pm at Seward Coop Franklin Store, Mpls

Crash Course on Ramen
March 31st at 4pm at Seward Coop Franklin Store, Mpls

Happy Travels,

Koshiki and Benjamin Smith

ニュースレター:2018 年3月号















Visiting Tsukiji Fish Market

Visiting Tsukiji Market

The last week of October, I spent about three days in Tokyo meeting restaurant owners, going to cooking schools  and checking out ramen shops. I spent the last day of my trip  hanging out at Tsukiji – the world’s largest fish market. The day I visited Tsukiji, it was unusually warm, pleasant and sunny.  I found myself relaxed and carefree as I strolled through the market admiring the shops and soaking up the spirit of the market.

On Monday, Tsukiji was bustling with energy, and everyone was preoccupied with their day’s business and driving their turret trucks at full speed. Tourists are everywhere.  The coolers at food stalls were filled with catches of the season such as snow crab, pike fish, squid, salmon, mackerel and shelves with green tea, seaweed, bonito flakes, miso, pickled vegetables, wasabi roots and much more.  As a matter of a fact, “Food Town” is a word used in Japanese to describe Tsukiji as one can find nearly everything you need for making  traditional Japanese food.  This is also where world class seafood auctions take place surrounded by a maze of retail shops and all kinds of restaurants.

Food at Tsukiji
Food at Tsukiji

I had a morning meeting with Mr. Noguchi who assisted me with planning a sushi workshop at near by restaurant for our guests during our tour.  I was in luck that day as Mr. Noguchi treated me to a  private, behind-the-scenes  tour of the market.  As you might know, due to its  years of heavy use and also to make way for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, Tsukiji’s inner market is moving this summer to Toyosu, a man-made island near by (if you sign up with us for our April and June trips, you might still be able to see the inner market as a group).

Fish for Sale at Tsukiji
Fish for Sale at Tsukiji

One of the must to do thing at Tsukiji is to shop and eat at one of the many restaurants serving the freshest sushi you can buy. After my meeting with Mr. Noguchi, I squeezed myself into a counter seat at very busy sushi restaurant and indulged on some of my favorites at the market; charred fally tuna, sea urchin, sardine, mackerel and salmon.

Store at Tsukiji
Store at Tsukiji

Hope to see you in Japan.

Happy Travels!

Tanpopo Studio

November 2017 Newsletter

Dear friends and family

Happy November!

We hope this letter finds all of you well and we apologize for not reaching out to many of you in recent months. We were fortunate to have this summer off to see many friends and family that we have not seen for a long time.

It has been 4 months since my husband and I departed from Tanpopo Restaurant and many of you might be wondering what we are cooking up for our next life. Today, please allow me to send this email to share some of my thoughts with you.

Over 17 years ago, Ben and I opened Tanpopo Noodle Shop to serve healthy, casual and affordable Japanese food to people in Minnesota. As you all know, I grew up in Japan and it was always in my best interest to be a bridge, sort of speak, between the two countries.

Seventeen years passed very quickly and during that time, there were many things we could not do because we were running the restaurant and raising small children. However, while at Tanpopo, we got the idea to do culinary tours to Japan and started making plans and now with our children older, we decided to take this opportunity to make it happen.

Ben and I just finalized our first five trip itineraries and wanted to share them with you. Our upcoming trips are posted on and online registration for the public opens November 15th for our trips starting this spring.

We are also keeping all food related post on Instagram and occasional blog post on our website. You can see some of pictures of Koshiki Island on our trip back to my home town last summer on our blog. Please check them out and signed up for our newsletter for all upcoming exciting events.

Happy Travels!

Koshiki & Ben Smith

TanpopoStuio LLC

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