Food, Life & Lifestyle, Travel

Nicoletta Goes To Japan (part 1)

Nicoletta March 6, 2019

Nicoletta Goes To Japan, or, how your dreams can come true. I got to travel to Japan, invited by a local Tv, all expenses covered for 8 days, to shoot an episode of a show called ‘Who Wants to Come to Japan‘! All of this, because of my passion for Japanese culture and, in specific, Dorayaki.

Song of the day: Lost in Japan – Shawn Mendes

Nicoletta goes to Japan

[Disclosure: I traveled to Japan in December 2018 in order to appear on the TV show ‘Who Wants to Come to Japan‘!  I was invited by the producers and my travel and costs were covered. I was not asked to share any posts about it with my readers.  I’m doing so because it was an amazing adventure, and I want to tell you all about it!]

That life can be unpredictable and reserve surprises, I was already a firm believer. Now, I have proof.

 

 

I’m on the Japanese TV show ‘Who Wants to Come to Japan‘!

The end of 2018 presented me with the opportunity of a lifetime. Traveling to Japan, invited by a local Tv, all expenses covered for 8 days, to shoot an episode of a show called ‘Who Wants to Come to Japan‘! I couldn’t say anything until the show was on air in Japan in order to keep TV secrets. You can’t believe how hard it was to withhold from sharing my excitement with the world!

The episode aired in Japan on March 4th, 2019, so I can finally tell you all about the once-in-a-lifetime experience I had!

Overall, the program offers trips to Japan for foreigners with a passion for a specific aspect of Japanese culture. The subjects vary broadly, and the participants come from all over the world, with the requisite that they haven’t traveled to Japan before.

The show takes the entertaining approach of making everything a surprise. They come to your home to film you, then they leave you hanging for a bit until they knock at your door filming your astonishment when they reveal you were selected to go to Japan. Then, when you land in Japan, tired and jet-lagged, they meet you at the airport, start filming you from there, and you go where they take you on a wonderful adventure.

Nicoletta goes to Japan

Things started in late 2017

Things started in November 2017 with an unusual email that I received.  They were contacting me because they were recruiting people with an interest in Japanese culture for a Japanese Tv show that launched the year before. They were interested in learning more about me and my love for Dorayaki, and Japanese culture in general. After a few back and forth exchange, when things were getting more serious and emails longer and more detailed,  I dropped the email exchange and let it go. 2017 was a very heavy year for us and by the end of it, Loreto and I were drained, exhausted, and I was not ready for adventure. Little did I know that destiny was not to give up and would persist!

Things got real in 2018

I forgot all about it until one year later, in October 2018, I got a similar email but from a different person, the lovely Kyoko, contacting me because they were interested in featuring me again as one of the candidates they would like to invite to Japan. When the Universe knocks twice at your door, you start to pay attention and so I did. A pretty long email exchange started and this time ended with their request of a profile video followed by the incredible news that somebody was coming to Edmonton to film me in our house making Dorayaki and also going to our local Asian store where I usually get the ingredients to make them. Pretty exciting already, isn’t it? Well, that November day started cold and snowy and the director, a cameraman and a translator, Aimi, Seiji, and Yoichi, arrived from Japan and the US and knocked at our door. I was a bit nervous, but having Loreto by my side always relaxes me and in the end, I was able to show my passion and love for Japan and its culture, and also my skills at making Dorayaki. I got to go with Loreto and the crew to our local Asian store T&T to buy some ingredients, go back home to make the anko (azuki bean paste) filling, and the “pancakes” from scratch. Then, we invited over some family and friends to share the experience and the snacks. They had a great time sipping Loreto’s tea, eating the Dorayaki, and being interviewed by the crew.

Dorayaki, a door to Japan

Thank you, blog, and thank you, Dorayaki. I believe the producers found me through our blog and the post on Dorayaki, the popular Japanese “wagashi” (confectionery) I like so much. Well, actually I have 2 Dorayaki posts, one with the regular anko filling, one with a chocolate hazelnut spread filling. Dorayaki is probably the most well-known and popular Japanese sweets and traditionally it is made of two small round “pancake-like” cakes, sandwiched together by a sweet azuki (red bean) paste called anko. However, Dorayaki is not a pancake, the texture being more like a sponge cake.

After this experience, I am ready to review the recipe with the tips I learned from the best.

Nicoletta goes to Japan

Legend has it that the first Dorayaki were made when a samurai named Benkei forgot his gong (dora) upon leaving a farmer’s home where he was hiding and the farmer used the gong to fry the pancakes (the yaki part of the name means “cooked on dry heat.”), thus the name Dorayaki.

They are the favorite food of the Japanese anime character Doraemon, a blue cat-robot who loves dorayaki. He regularly gets into all sorts of trouble because of his obsession with the round cake, and in every episode, he tries to eat a pile of them, usually disturbed by some occurrence.

Nicoletta goes to Japan

A Skype call
The filming went well, we were all pretty happy about it, now it was time to wait. It seemed that they were discussing whom they should invite to Japan in early December for the next episode, among candidates from Europe, US/Canada, and Russia.

They did ask me if I could make a week to 10 days available in early December if I was selected, and, of course, I said I could. Then, another email arrived, saying that the producer was planning to do a 30-minute video call interview with the candidates. They stressed the fact that they wanted to do a Skype call and we had to use our computer at home because it would give us a stable screen and a stable connection! Oh, they also requested both me and Loreto to be home for the interview.

We did not think that was a trick at the time. When the morning of the video call arrived, we were all ready to go with the computer set up when, instead, the doorbell rang. Yoichi was standing there holding up a sign inviting me to come to Japan and two cameramen were filming our astonishment and excitement.

They had lied to us about the Skype video call interview to do the surprise…. And what a surprise it was! At this point, both Loreto and I were in tears of joy!

Nicoletta goes to Japan

Photo courtesy of SovdiMedia

Nicoletta goes to Japan

Nicoletta Goes To Japan
I had less than a week to prepare myself, pack, and mentally digest the whole thing. Especially that I was going alone, not with Loreto, my rock, my support. But I was going where I had always wanted to go. To Japan, and with a customized experience for me. The opportunity of a lifetime!
I set off for Tokyo on Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 and my amazing experience began. One that will stay with me forever!
Nicoletta goes to Japan

Hang on, it’s not over yet. There will be part 2 and most likely part 3 of the saga “Nicoletta Goes To Japan”!

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30 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Sabrina March 6, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Amazing! What a fantastic experience! Thanks for sharing, I absolutely love experiencing different food cultures and now I’m curious to try the dorayaki 😋 and I’ll be trying your recipe.
    (I’m on the edge of my seat for part 2!)

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 6, 2019 at 11:38 am

      Thank you! Today I finally watched the episode and it felt less like a dream. I actually did it! An unforgettable experience, stay tuned for the sequel 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Kylie | Midwest Foodie March 10, 2019 at 9:41 pm

      I’ve never been to Japan but I’d totally LOVE to! Can’t wait to try this recipe – my family will love it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Diane Galambos March 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    What a story!! There must have been moments when you wondered if it was a scam. Am amazed that such things can happen. So happy for you to have such a dream come true. can’t wait for part 2!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 7, 2019 at 12:22 am

      Thank you, Diane! I actually never thought it was a scam They were both written by a Japanese person and they have a way to present things, very polite, very precise, I don’t know how to explain, that you trust them right away. In part 2 and 3 I’ll delve into the Japanese culture!!

  • Avatar
    Reply Milena March 7, 2019 at 9:40 am

    I am so happy for you! Sounds like such a great experience. Cheers to dorayaki and the path it laid in front of you:)

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 7, 2019 at 9:56 am

      Thank you, Milena! I still have to pinch myself. When I watched the episode the other night, I actually shed a few tears 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Katherine | Love In My Oven March 7, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    WOW!!! Good for you. What an adventure! I went to Japan in 2011 and it was amazing. I would love to go back! I can’t wait for Part II of your trip!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 10, 2019 at 12:02 am

      Japan is amazing! I can’t wait to go back with Loreto! Thank you

  • Avatar
    Reply Danielle Wolter March 8, 2019 at 4:57 am

    omg what a super cool experience! that sounds so awesome. i just love japanese cooking and dream about getting to japan one day.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 10, 2019 at 12:03 am

      Yes, super cool 🙂 ! Japanese food is incredible!

  • Avatar
    Reply Anna March 8, 2019 at 5:34 am

    Wow! Sounds like such a great adventure! Japan has been on my bucket list for years, and I hope I could go there one day too!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 10, 2019 at 12:03 am

      I hope you do, it is such an amazing place to visit!

  • Avatar
    Reply Tammy March 8, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Ahhh how exciting!! And I love the song choice too ;D Looks like you had a one in a lifetime experience…Japan is on the top of my list of places to visit. I’m just totally fascinated by the food and culture…so exciting!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 10, 2019 at 12:05 am

      Great song, isn’t it? 😉 I had an incredible experience, feel so blessed.

  • Avatar
    Reply Carrie | Clean Eating Kitchen March 8, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Wow! What an amazing adventure you had! I’d love to visit Japan! Look forward to reading more about your trip!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 10, 2019 at 12:06 am

      Japan is a wonderful place full of culture, amazing people and incredible food. I had the best time ever!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jennifer March 9, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Sounds like such a fun trip!!!!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jenni LeBaron March 9, 2019 at 10:26 am

    What a fantastic experience! I can’t wait to see all the delicious food you got to learn about in your next installment.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 10, 2019 at 12:08 am

      Fantastic indeed! I was invited to learn more about Dorayaki, and to eat them there, not about food in general.

  • Avatar
    Reply Veena Azmanov March 9, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    All the best. Everything sounds so very interesting. Have fun and enjoy all the delicious and yummy flavors too.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 10, 2019 at 12:09 am

      Thank you. I had fun, it was in December, and I learned a lot about a wonderful culture.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sara March 10, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Oh my gosh, Nicoletta! What an incredible opportunity! I hope you ate all of the incredible food, and I can’t wait to see the other parts of your journey! Japan has been on my list of places to see forEVER!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2019 at 4:36 am

      Thank you, Sara! I ate incredible food and I got to delve into the culture. Amazing!

  • Avatar
    Reply Lauren March 10, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Wow! It’s funny how things just seem to work out! What a fantastic experience. I need to find me some doriyaki to try them!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2019 at 4:43 am

      Fantastic experience indeed! One that will stay with me forever. Thank you! Hope you try some Dorayaki, they are sooo good!

  • Avatar
    Reply Julie March 10, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Wow — what a cool adventure! How serendipitous that a blog post lead to a dream TRIP TO JAPAN!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2019 at 4:51 am

      Exactly that it was, Julie! A dream trip! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Michelle March 11, 2019 at 4:28 am

    What an amazing experience Nicoletta! How lucky are you to get such a fab trip, and I think it says a lot about your blog that the makers of this programme found! I’m not surprised at all that they picked you! So happy for you x

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