Chojiya is a restaurant specializing in "tororo" (grated yam) dishes located in Shizuoka city's Suruga Ward, an area that retains the feel of Mariko-juku, one of the many stations of the old Tokaido route.
The establishment replaced its symbolic thatched roof this spring and continues to attract many visitors from Japan and abroad, yet Kaoru Shibayama, the 64-year-old proprietor, says, "Our business had hit rock bottom at one point."
Nutritionist Susumu Matsumaru was a bit disappointed with the answers he received to his question posed to elementary school pupils in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward.
"You all know that there are great places and delicious dishes around Japan," he told the children. "What do you like about Tokyo, your hometown?"
Cherry tomatoes and powdered cheese in miso soup may take some by surprise, and all the more so if the process begins by cooking "shimeji" mushrooms in water instead of making soup stock with dried kelp.
"These ingredients happen to release the umami (savory) elements," says Sally Hiramatsu, the 28-year-old "science-based cooking expert," who has a talent for conveying the mechanisms of how tastiness comes about through cooking from a scientific perspective.