Chef / Naoko Tanijiri


Chef / Naoko Tanijiri

There is a restaurant in Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku that is open only on Fridays.  The restaurant is called "Hitotema" and run by Chef Naoko Tanijiri.  It is a restaurant that is different than others because it is only open once a week.  You feel an unexpected clam as you enter the restaurant, located along a somewhat noisy street.  The reason why you get that calming feeling is due to the wide counters with various dished lined up and the excitement of what to choose.    It was three years ago when her husband, Makoto Tanijiri pushed and supported her to open the restaurant.  At the time, she was the mother of a newborn baby and quite busy as a mother, wife and cook.  This dignified woman wears ARTIDA OUD, "Raw Beauty = the natural beauty of a woman", and tells us about the path she has walked.  While enjoying a slightly sweet hydrangea tea, we listened to her thoughts about fashion and food.

From the world of fashion to the world of food

―――We understand that you used to work as a fashion stylist. 

I spent one year at a school for interior design.  I liked clothes and started working at an apparel store.  After that, I saved up my money and went to London to study English.  While there, I met stylist Shinichi Mita and he asked me to help him.  That’s how I got started.  I came back to Japan and stopped working as an assistant, then started working independently when I was 24.  I was involved in the launch of the Alexander Lee Chang brand and have worked with the likes of Masatoshi Nagase, Kumiko Aso and Kenji Kohashi.

―――What was it that made you switch from fashion to become a Chef?

I think fashion is something I will like even when I become a grandmother.  But when I was about 30, I started thinking that instead of chasing after the new collections, I wanted to focus on my passion.  I come from a family of 8 and from the time I was young, I loved to cook.  I believe that if you like something when you are little, that is something you will still like when you are 70 or 80 years old.  I also had a great time working with food artist Ayako Suwa.  I was fascinated by reading her article and approached her.  For almost two years, I worked on PR projects with her.  That was what got me to make the change and become a Chef. 

―――What is the concept of your restaurant, “Hitotema”? 

The theme is “homemade food of the modern era”.  Of course, we ask our customers if there is something that they don’t like, but in general, instead of taking orders from the customer, we take the approach of “here, eat this”, and serve seasonal dishes as if your mother had cooked for you.  We try to prepare food in an ingenious way that will help people overcome their dislike of certain foods by the way we use certain ingredients and by the way we prepare it.  We want customers to leave and say “wow, I didn’t know I could eat so many vegetables”. 

―――When putting the menu together, what inspires you?

I start with one ingredient and build from there.  It’s similar to clothes in that way, you choose a one piece dress and find something to go with it.  I also try to make all of my own spices.  The ingredients themselves have their own sweetness, bitterness or texture etc. so I build and create food while believing in the power of the ingredients.

We prepare food while taking into account what’s good for the “brain” and “gastrointestinal tract”

―――Are you careful about “food” when thinking about beauty?

There are a lot of things I am careful about but in particular, I eat vegetables first, whether eating at home or eating out.  Also, I only want to use genuine ingredients.  You can be satisfied with what you eat without taking in too much extra salt or sugar.  I ferment sugar and use fermented syrup as often as possible.  I also often make miso soup with lots of ingredients. 

―――”Food” is something to enrich the mind and body, but some women can’t really enjoy “food” because they are dieting. 

I think that taking into account what’s good for the “brain” and “gastrointestinal tract” is important.  What the brain wants is different from what the gastrointestinal tract needs.  Eating junk food is a result of stress and is what the “brain” wants.  The gastrointestinal tract cares about the body and wants nutrients.  When you eat chocolate, it’s important for you to stop and ask yourself, “is this food my brain wants? Does this have the nutrients my gastrointestinal tract needs?”

―――Tell us about the things you want to achieve going forward.

There is so much, but basically just living is a challenge.  The restaurant and my son are both 3 years old now.  It was tough in the beginning but I am used to it now and have managed to be able to raise them both (laughs).

Looking into the future, I would like to work on a nursery room and try to start a stylish family style restaurant using my vegetarian experience, child rearing experience and overseas experience.  In addition to that, I would like to make a deeper connection with other Chefs through the popular food network “food fan club” I am involved with where you can create things with other Chefs or attempt to “do it yourself”. 

Raising a child, being a wife and working is like being an actress.

―――Being a mother and having a family, has your thinking changed with regards to “food”?

Ultimately, I think there are only two things that can support healthy living, they are exercise and diet.  Making food for children is very difficult, but making things that satisfy both your children and yourself is a fun challenge on a daily basis.  For example, children like sugar, but I really don’t want to give my child sugar so I think about how to solve that dilemma.  This kind of experience also connects to how I prepare food at the restaurant.

―――Raising a child, being a wife and working.  How do you balance all of that?

I live life like I am working as an actress (laughs).  In front of my son, I am playing the role of mother and am giving my best performance.  After work, if my husband gets off early, we have a glass of wine and go home, so on those days I am on a date or playing the role of the lover or wife.  When we go out on a date, it’s fun to dress fancy.  Lately, it’s becoming harder and harder to play the role of the lover so I think to myself that the director is telling me to “be more cute!” (laughs)

―――When do you feel most at ease?

When I go on a trip, I like to get into the pool.  I purposely close my eyes while I swim.  When I go underwater, it’s nice to see various things that look different from that view.  Outside of that, I do yoga once a week.  Every Sunday morning, I ask my husband to watch our son and that’s been going on for 15 years.  Do I have a favorite restaurant? … That’s a secret (laughs).

―――Is there anything you keep aware of in order to keep your work professional?

As much as possible, I always continue to learn.  Something I learned from my husband who has been working as an architect for 20 years and inspires me is that when he doesn’t know something, he says “wow, I didn’t know that “.  I think it’s important to have that sensibility to be so honest.  Last year, I took an intensive course on French confectionery and learned how to be a fermented food specialist.  I hope it will be useful in my everyday cooking.  I am grateful that my husband trusts me and is cooperative.

When I don’t know what to do, I think about how to make the special people in my life happy

―――The theme of ARTIDA OUD is “Raw Beauty = without decoration, the natural beauty of a woman”.  With that in mind, is there a woman that you consider to be beautiful? 

One of my friends who is a communications director, Nahoko Takahashi.  She is a very soft and delicate type with keen sense and is always thinking about how she can make people happy.  Her name is written in the same character as my name, but her name is pronounced “Nahoko”.  The meaning of the character means “straight or direct”, but she is a person who makes people feel comfortable.  She teaches me a lot.  Also, Masami Nagasawa.  Her ability to concentrate rubs off on me, and I think she is just amazing.

―――Internal maturity is a big factor in bringing out personal appeal.  Please tell us about your favorite movie or favorite phrases.

I love movies and so I find it hard to choose, but I really like “Night on Earth” and “My Blueberry Nights”.  “Night on Earth” has a cool story where the main character rejects the invitation to become a Hollywood actress.  It is a very interesting movie with blind women and black taxi drivers along with as social element to it.  My favorite phrase would be some of my favorite pins on my Pinterest page.  For example, “You don’t have to be prepared.  You can start walking even when you are scared.  While you are walking, you’ll be proud of the path you’ve walked thus far.  Whatever you do, don’t stop walking.  Believe in yourself”. 

―――Do you have a favorite ARTIDA OUD item?

I love earrings, so I love that there are so many attractive kinds.  The Baroque Pearl with an irregular shape is wonderful.  My company is called “HAI ILO”.  The sky turns into a grey color when the night turns into morning.  So I thought the “dawn” series with the light of dawn as a motif was very nice.  The ring overlay is also very cute.  Jewelry tends to be bought one piece at a time so it’s hard to imagine what you would coordinate with it, but on ARTIDA OUD’s Instagram, there are lots of examples to look at making it easier to imagine how it would look.  I look at it as if it is a jewelry advisory page.  I don’t have long nails due to the nature of my work, so I’m happy with a ring that has a shine.

―――Please send a message from you to all of the hard working women in the world.

Life has lots of waves to it.  I was once in a very low energy state of mind, but in retrospect, I was on the other side of the mountain.  If you go to the opposite side of the mountain, there will always be people who are envious of you and can’t bear to look at you.  When that happens, I think that people should think about things on a smaller scale.  Can you make someone happy no matter what other people think of you?  When you don’t know what to do, that is something you should think about.  Instead of thinking on a wider scale, I think people should narrow their focus.  That way, the way you feel and your focus will become clearer. 




Chef.  She runs a restaurant in Tomigaya, Shibuya called “Hitotema” that is open every week only on Friday.  The concept of her restaurant is “homemade food of the modern era” and her specialty is that she makes food as if she is making it for family. 
She does Kintsuji, (the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with powered gold silver or platinum) and is working on a project to spread food culture.
Learning and experiencing something new every day.

Here is for the reservation of “Hitotema”.