Mr. Itazura and I have gotten back into bento lately and have been needing/ wanting some new supplies. We’ve made several purchases of things on Ebay, but we are always looking for ways to support our community by shopping local. After some whining and complaining (mostly to myself) that I’m sure there’s no shops around here that sell bento supplies like baran (divider sheets) and food punches, I got on the stick and hit up my best friend. Google. I was pleasantly surprised to find there is ONE bento supply in the area- Happy Japan in Nashville! That’s just a few hours away, not a big deal, we can hit up Sonobana’s grocery while we’re there for resupply on things like rice, furikake (seasoning for rice and onigiri) and ogura an (sweetened red bean paste and quite possibly my favorite thing on Earth.) And so you have it, a jaunt was planned.

Happy Japan was very easy to find and surprisingly easy to get into and out of, considering the busy road in front of it! First things first- Yuki, their mascot, is so cute! She was designed for the store by Ryan Zanfei, an independent artist/ owner of Tasty Peach Studios in Indiana. Ryan also designed a super cute set of hair pins that sport one lone winking onigiri.

Since she is an artist, I have of course asked and received permission before posting the photo- artists have their work stolen quite often and that’s just rude, I prefer to ask permission- besides, it lets them know you like their stuff! :) If you would like to see more of her work (and maybe buy some??? She does commissions! Valentine’s Day is coming up! You know you want to!! Hehe! :3) check out her DeviantArt page, Tasty Peach Studios or her Etsy page.

As for the rest of our loot! We came back with three packs of baran, a tamagoyaki mold, two monkey mayonnaise containers, six furikake stencils, one set of piggy hashi (with carrying case that states ‘Happy Lunch Time!’) an egg mold, the aforementioned onigiri hairpins, the Kawaii Bento Boxes book and one pack of coconut pocky (the Mr. is addicted.) While we did find that the prices on the bento boxes are a bit higher than we are used to seeing- even for some that were identical to what they had- the pricing for the smaller things is on point, or close to, what we are able to find sourcing it online- AND we didn’t have to pay shipping. AND it went into local pockets. The staff was very friendly, greeting us when we walked in the door and attentive (but not annoying!) while we browsed. As we checked out, she made sure that we knew how to use our egg mold and let us know that they offer sushi and bento classes, which we thought was pretty cool, especially in a bento desert like Nashville!

We stopped at Sonobana as planned, restocking our supply of furikake, snacks, Mochiko (my recipe for my easy hax version of mochi that uses this sweet rice flour will be posted soon) uruchi-mai (standard Japanese white rice) and mochi-mai (Japanese sweet rice typically used for, you guessed it, mochi!)

We had a great time relaxing, shopping and just enjoying a day where it wasn’t so bloody cold. Well, that’s all for now! Bai- Bai! :3

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