“Communicating the diversity of Japanese food and spirituality to the world through the perspectives of mindfulness and food”Part1 Momoe, Founder of ZenEating

Zen and Innovation : Kouji Miki
9 min readOct 4, 2021

Table of Contents
●Greetings and introduction of performers
●About the encounter with enmono
●Introduction of
Momoe’s past activities
●The great adventure of a small-minded person after attending zenschool Tonomachi
▶Continue to Part 2
▶Video of the interview

Greetings and introduction of performers

Miki: The 197th Mindfulness Business Story has begun. Today we have Momoefrom Momoe cooking to talk about her approach to mindfulness and cooking. Thank you very much for your time.

Momoe: Thank you very much.

●About the encounter with enmono

Miki: Last year was the third Zen2.0 international conference on Zen and mindfulness in Kamakura, and this year is the fourth year. I would like to thank you very much for your participation in helping with the conference last year, and for your support in advertising, sales, and connecting Zen2.0 with the outside world. Thank you very much.

Momoe: Thank you very much.

Miki: How did you come to know about Zen2.0?

Momoe: My sister has been participating in Zen2.0 since the first year, and I was definitely interested in it, so I wanted to meet you someday.

Miki: Thank you very much.

●Introduction of Momoe’s past activities

Miki: I would like to ask you to introduce your background and what you have been doing.

Momoe: I have been working in Japan and overseas with the keywords of food and mindfulness. Recently, I have been adding “adventure” as a keyword to my life. I’ve been living in India for a while, and I’ve seen different aspects of the country from what most people imagine, so I’ve been uploading the richness of the people’s spiritual life and food culture that I’ve seen there, calling it a great adventure. The first activity is to upload the rich aspects of the people’s spiritual life and food culture that I have seen on YouTube. I also grow bean sprouts and fermented soybeans, and recently I’ve been thinking that it would be interesting to make something that has been familiar in Japan for a long time, but that I don’t know how to make, so I’ve been trying to make it, and visiting artisans and listening to their stories about making real natto. This is the point where I started my activities with the keyword “adventure”, using Japanese food culture as a starting point to rediscover the original charm of Japanese food culture on YouTube.

Miki: Before you started your current activities, you were working in another field, right?

Momoe: Yes. I had a different job.

Miki: What kind of work did you do?

Momoe: I worked in the editorial department of a travel magazine for about three years, and then after graduating, I worked for a company called Hoshino Resort, where I helped start up a new inn in Tokyo called Hoshinoya Tokyo.

Miki: It’s an amazingly beautiful house. Was that in Yurakucho?

Momoe: It’s in Otemachi. It’s near Tokyo Station. There, I was working to provide invisible experiences such as Japanese culture and time, so I was doing branding work, thinking about how to make that time more attractive. After that, I moved to India to do some spiritual exploration and learn how to cook…

Miki: So you suddenly moved to India?

Momoe: Yes, I did. I had been to India many times before, but I really wanted to live there, so I moved. After I came back to Japan, I worked for Cookpad for a year, making cooking videos. At the same time, I was also making and serving dishes that I wanted to express myself by opening cafes and teaching Japanese cooking classes to foreigners.

Miki: When did you first become interested in food?

Momoe: I have been interested in food for a long time. I have been excited about cooking since I was in kindergarten, but I only started teaching in the last two years.

Miki: What kind of cooking do you mainly do?

Momoe: I focus on healthy Japanese food, healthy food of any kind. For Japanese food, I focus on dishes that don’t use too many chemical seasonings, dishes that are simmered slowly to bring out the flavor of the ingredients, and dishes that take time to enjoy the time spent cooking, such as miso soup or broth.

Miki: What is the connection between the food activities you are doing now, focusing on Japanese food, and India?

Momoe: On the surface, it may not seem like there is a connection between India and me, but I think there is quite a bit of a connection. The main reason I went to India was for philosophical exploration, but I had been to India several times and had experienced how Indians cherish their daily lives, so I wanted to live there and experience it more. My experience in India was to live with people who live their lives with great care, and when I returned to Japan, I looked around and realized that in Japan too, cooking with great care and respect for time is very suitable for Japanese cuisine. As I learned more, I realized that Zen temple meals, vegetarian cuisine, and mindfulness and food have been important to the Japanese people since ancient times, and I have been projecting that into my food. I call it mindful cooking, and I also do activities such as mindful eating when I cook and eat.

Miki: Did you spend about two years in India?

Momoe: Yes, less than two years.

Miki: When you were in India, was it like a homestay?

Momoe: When I was in India, I basically lived in my own house. I was living in Delhi, the capital of India, and this (background photo) is the garden of the house where I was staying, but I went out to various areas and did surprise homestays.

Miki: A surprise homestay (laughs). What was it like?

Momoe: I went to the area by myself and asked someone I had made friends with if I could learn how to cook from her mother. I asked her if she would let me learn how to cook, and then my mother told me to stay with her for a few days.

Miki: Was it Indian food that you learned to cook?

Momoe: I learned to cook Indian food. I can also make Indian food.

Miki: What kind of Indian food is it?

Momoe: My favorite region is Kerala in South India, where rice is the main food, so I learned to make non-greasy soups and curries using rice and spices similar to Japanese rice. I learned a lot of home cooking, so there were a lot of things that I had never eaten in Indian restaurants in Japan. For example, rice flour crepes with potato salad seasoned with cumin and other spices are delicious.

Miki: How do you find a house to stay in?

Momoe: People I meet introduce me, or friends of friends of friends.

Miki: That’s amazing. That’s a lot of raiding.

Momoe: It’s an assault. I follow my connections. So it’s between safety and challenge…

Miki: Did you stay there by yourself?

Momoe: Yes, I did. It’s surprisingly safe.

Miki: Is Kerala what you call rural?

Momoe: It is rural. There are coconut trees like this.

Miki: I’ve only been to the countryside once or twice in India, but it’s really nothing but a coffee stand that looks like a shack in the middle of nowhere…

I don’t know why I’m in such a hurry, but when I’m in Japan, I feel rushed for some reason. I’m interested in slowing down my sense of time and not rushing too much while living in Japan, which is why I’m doing things like growing miso, natto (fermented soybeans), and bean sprouts as I mentioned earlier. I think there is a connection between India and the activities I am doing now, because I feel that there are things I can do in Tokyo that will allow me to enjoy the relaxed life that I felt in the eternal India.

Miki: India and Yamagata don’t seem to be directly connected, but in your mind they are, aren’t they?

Momoe: Yes, they are. For example, learning to cook at a homestay in India is a pretty big adventure, and I think it’s quite exciting, but I’ve been feeling lately that whether the excitement level is big or small, in terms of playfulness and challenges, it’s the same with small everyday challenges. I’ve been feeling that the same is true for small challenges that we can take on in our daily lives. I think, “Let’s try this! or “Oh, the bean sprouts are coming out! I’d be happy if I could be that kind of energizer, and that’s why I’ve recently started sending out messages.

●The great adventure of a small-minded person after attending zenschool Tonomachi

Miki: Momoe, you also participated in the Tono-machi version of our zenschool, didn’t you? What was the reason for your participation?

Momoe: The reason why I joined was because I had been trying to start a business for more than half a year, and I was wondering what I should do. At that time, Mr. Miki was looking for a course, so I read the description of zenschool and thought that it would be possible to create an innovation or a business that would make a breakthrough by taking out something intrinsic, so I applied.

Miki: What were your expectations after you actually participated in the program?

Momoe: I think it was good in two directions: one was that it was very good in the same direction as my expectations, and the other was that it was very good in a direction I hadn’t imagined. I felt that things that I never imagined could happen. It wouldn’t have been interesting if things had turned out the way I imagined, so in that sense, I’m very happy.

Miki: What were some of the good things that you didn’t imagine?

Momoe: The part where I meditated in zenschool and took out the things that excited me as a child and used them as the core of my idea to build a business. I originally thought I wanted to create a more sophisticated mindfulness platform, but that was probably just something that came out of my brain…

Miki: So you think it would be profitable?

Momoe: That’s right. I thought it was necessary for society, but before zenschool, people didn’t really see me as someone who would do it. That’s something I never imagined. The activities in India and the rediscovery of Japanese food that I mentioned earlier were things that were contradictory and scattered in my mind, and I thought I needed to sort them out. But I found the keyword “adventure” at zenschool, and I feel like I was able to connect them easily. I named it “The Great Adventure of the Impatient” after that.

Utsunomiya: Wasn’t the word “adventure” mentioned as a keyword?

Momoe: It was not mentioned at all.

Utsunomiya: You mean it was mentioned if you go back to children?

Momoe: Yes. Strangely enough, I never thought of it.

Utsunomiya: You didn’t think of it when you became an adult?

Momoe: I never said “I’m an adventurer” in my mind, because I’m not an adventurer who goes to Antarctica. I’m not an adventurer who goes to the Antarctic, but going to India was an adventure.

Utsunomiya: That’s nice.

Miki: Thank you very much.

▶Continue to Part 2

▶Video of the interview

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Zen and Innovation : Kouji Miki

A school of innovation based on the Zen philosophy that overcame unemployment and depression through zazen. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikikouj