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Originally published at https://holatomorrow.com on July 16, 2020.

It’s a strange and humbling feeling — to be able to hear but not see.

This was the sensation I felt in lockdown while looking out the window of a 23rd-story apartment in Hong Kong.

I could hear the haunting chants of pro-democracy protesters echo from the streets below, but the raised umbrellas and pain remained hidden from my view. I wondered, ‘What am I not seeing? What am I not doing?’

At the same time, growing demonstrations against police brutality were gripping my home country, the United States, and I started…


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Waste not, want not: Mariko Shinju’s Mottainai Grandma character teaches children how to avoid being wasteful and to be respectful of other people and the environment. | © MOTTAINAI GRANDMA PROJECT

When author and illustrator Mariko Shinju’s son was 4 years old, he left food on his plate. Like many Japanese mothers, Shinju said to him, “ Mottainai.”

“What is mottainai, Mom?” he asked innocently.

Although she grew up hearing her mother and grandmother say “mottainai,” she couldn’t find the right words to explain what it meant. It was just something that was said to express disappointment at a waste of food or other things. So instead, she picked up a pen and began to draw.

What emerged on the page was the story of Mottaianai Baasan, “Mottainai Grandma” in English…


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Originally published at https://holatomorrow.com/face-mask/ on May 21, 2020.

I vividly remember my first time in Tokyo: the scramble of black and white masks dotting the Shibuya Crossing in the warm rain. As an American, I had not grown up in a culture where wearing masks in public was common practice, and this scene made a strong impression.

In a sense, the ubiquity of face masks in Japan and Asia was a mysterious quirk. …


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Originally published at https://holatomorrow.com/ on April 9, 2020.

One of the first friends my husband Julien and I made after moving to Tokyo was the caring and creative Miica Fran. After meeting her at our co-working space, she invited us to her first pop-up restaurant called “Eat Provence” — an intimate series inspired by the slow food and cozy lifestyle of her experience in the southeast region of France.

That was almost three years ago. Miica has since traveled throughout Europe to research how to have a zero-waste kitchen and she now hosts her own experimental zero-waste kitchen “Bio Labo…


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Originally published at https://holatomorrow.com/ on January 20, 2020.

Hola humans of the future! I welcome you to take a comfy seat at our table, taste our delicious food, drink our sparkling sake, and get to know the brave and beautiful women of Japan. Yes, I’m still daydreaming of the first of a series of delicious, intimate lunch gatherings we hosted in Tokyo last summer.

Let me introduce you to Miica, a talented food creator currently traveling the world; Juri, the chef at the Tokyo restaurant Udo; and Kyoko, my young “Japanese mom” who connects me with Japanese culture in all…


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Local partnership: Miica Fran runs Bio Labo House out of aVin, a shop specializing in bio wines in Tokyo’s Meguro neighborhood. | JULIA MARINO

Food creator Miica Fran is on a mission to save the planet through her “special healing power” of salvaging and savoring vegetables.

Fran runs an experimental zero-waste kitchen, Bio Labo House, out of aVin, a wine shop and bar specializing in bio wines from Rhone and Provence, on a cozy street in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward.

Despite the ubiquity of Japanese concepts like mottainai (“what a waste”), the Environment Ministry reports that the average amount of food thrown out per person, per day “could fill up an entire rice bowl,” even though Japan’s food self-sufficiency stands at a paltry 37 percent.


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A new ‘do: Julia Marino’s husband took this picture at Lake Miyagase to show off her new hair. | COURTESY OF JULIA MARINO

A year ago I visited a doctor in Tokyo and heard the words nobody wants to hear: “You have breast cancer.”

These words are crushing in any language. As an American living in Japan, however, there was an additional twinge of anxiety as to how I would deal with my diagnosis in this foreign country.

My husband, Julien, and I came to Tokyo in 2017. Though we spoke no Japanese, we were committed to embracing uncertainty and a home here. But facing cancer was an unexpected and unwelcome challenge.

At first I thought little of it, a lump in my…


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Food Innovation Program fellows participate in Edgeof’s Future Champions event. Photo by Beatriz Jacoste.

We walk through the doors of the creative clubhouse Edgeof in downtown Shibuya to discover a sensory space filled with soothing scents, technicolor lights, and a soft, ethereal soundscape. Glowing white chairs and lamps illuminated intimate corners as guests gathered around the “vision bar” to take a cup of tea or sake, and a card that illustrated their archetype.

We are welcomed by our hosts Daniel Goldman, co-founder of Edgeof, and Scott Levkoff, founder of The Mystic Midway of California, and brought into the fantastical “leadership funhouse,” the idyllic setting for Future Champions, a series of 2-hour immersive journeys that…


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It begins in a circle. An infinite, natural and magical thing, we find the circle in the the sun rising above the horizon, a table where we bake and share bread, our cups running over, the lens from which we see and make art.

The circle is also the shape of the safe space we created during the Future Food LexiconLab, a 3-week immersive storytelling project featuring participants from around the world, and directed by Douglas Gayeton, co-founder of The Lexicon, and our host Tarek Soliman from the Future Food Institute. Our common goal? …

Julia Marino

Let's make the world better, one step, one breath, one bite at a time. life designer. food lover. nature explorer. Seeing beauty in the imperfect.

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