Soba Heaven, Ceramic Bliss & A Taste Of Spring


Best Soba Ever!


On the way to Kyoto yesterday, we stopped for a magical afternoon in Mishima, located at the base of Mt Fuji. I had arranged to meet Robert Yellin, the foremost Western pottery expert in Japan and Jim Molloy who works for my favorite Japanese tea producer, Yamanien Tea. Jim graciously picked us up at the train station and then we went over to Robert’s gallery. It’s like ceramic porn in there! Outrageous!

The four of us went to lunch at Iijima, which is, hands down, the best soba restaurant that I have ever been to. The chef is a true master of the art of the noodle. I had a lunch set of three different kinds of cold soba (!!), plus tempura and assorted goodies. Robert had matcha soba and anago (sea eel) tempura. Welcome to Japan!

Robert, the mama, me, Jim (soba master in background).


Here we are, blissed out after lunch. Check out the soba master in the background! That guy has some serious “Ki.”

One of the highlights was finding a beautiful “yunomi” (tea cup) at Robert’s gallery that felt like an old friend from the first moments. It is a Shino piece made by Tsukamoto Haruhiko…and it is really cool in that “shamanic” sort of way! Robert said that his personal tea cup at home is made by the same potter…and then he took us over to his house to prove it!  I had him send it off to the states so it should be there by the time I return. Deb…watch for the Express mail guy…

Josh's New Teacup


And speaking of tea – what a great pleasure it was to go with Jim and Robert and the mama to Yamanien and drink the most delicious sencha in their tearoom overlooking the garden that has been tended by the family (just like the tea) for the past 400 years! Yamanien tea is like no other and it holds its own with the finest sencha that Japan has to offer. Truly,a taste of spring! They regularly win Gold Medal prizes for their tea and their clients include the royal family of Japan. If the royal family drinks your tea…um, I’ll have what they are having! 🙂 Until recently, Yamanien tea was only available to local residents but Jim has helped them build a website and they now ship their tea all over the world. Get some!

With Goto-San, the Yamanien Tea Master


We left Mishima feeling filled and fulfilled. I can’t wait to come back and spend more time in this beautiful part of Japan.


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