Category Archives: Food

Japan trip photo album

I’m back from my vacation in Japan! And, it was awesome ❤

It’s hard to choose our favorite moments from this trip, but here are some of the highlights!


I almost always book hotels that include breakfast buffet because Japanese breakfast buffets are THE BEST. There are usually a few different kinds of rice, several veggie dishes, meat and fish, pickles, soups, condiments, pastries, fruits, coffee, tea, etc. etc. We ate SO well while we were there.

We stayed in Ryogoku, Tokyo for the first couple of days. Ryogoku is the Sumo capitol of Japan. They have these portraits and hand prints of sumo champions at the station.

Seriously big hands!

Nagano & Obuse

After Tokyo, we took a bullet train to Nagano.

We accidentally joined the underground tour at Zenkouji temple, where you walk in a pitch black darkness for like 20 minutes (it felt like an eternity) guided only by feeling the wall next to you.

The idea is you find a “key to heaven” mounted on the wall but it’s so sacred, you’re not supposed to see it. Your eyes never get used to the darkness and there is no going back, so you just keep going forward even if you’re freaking out… It was surreal!

(And, yes, we found the key to heaven!)

Lotus in the pond.

It was the height of the chestnut season in Japan. We tried to eat it in all forms possible. Here we’re enjoying mont blanc soft serve (by the way, the Japanese LOVE their soft serves. If you see a sign for “ice cream,” 99% of the time, it means “soft serve.”) and regular mont blanc.

We spent a day in Obuse, which is a little town 30 minutes outside of Nagano city. In Obuse, we stopped at their folk history museum.

Museums and other recreational facilities are super cheap to get in there. This one was only 100 yen per person to go in (that’s about 88 cents). The most we paid to get in to a museum was 1,200 yen (about $10.50) for Hokusai Museum in Tokyo, where you can see the Hokusai originals – but still a really good deal when I think of going to an exhibit at Seattle Art Museum!

Kanazawa & Noto Peninsula

Then we traveled to Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture, and met up with my parents! They’d driven for 6 hours that morning from home to meet us there… (Also, I’m impressed with Dave’s selfie skill. No selfie stick needed!)

Of all the things we saw at Kenroku En Japanese Garden, I was most attracted to moss and lichens 😀 I just love their textures so much.

After our walk in the park and a visit to a ninja temple, we stopped for tea and treats. My dad and Dave got a sweet bean soup and they got to roast their own mochi!

Another superb breakfast buffet at the hotel in Kanazawa… It makes me drool even now!

We made our way out to Noto Peninsula the next morning. We got to drive on the beach at Chiriga Hama Beach Drive. The ocean was so calming…

After going to Wajima morning market and having our lunch, we stopped to see the terraced rice paddies. It was overcast but still quite a view!

This region is known for its salt. We stopped at a salt farming demonstration site where they harvest the salt from the ocean using a traditional method.

We took a hike up to see Rokko Saki light house in the afternoon. Simply stunning.

Selfie time!

We stayed at a quiet inn overlooking the sound. Gorgeous view from our room at sunset.

Shirakawa Go

On our way back to Himeji, my hometown, we visited Shirakawa Go historic village.

They’d moved these super old houses from a nearby village to preserve the culture and educate the public about traditional ways of living. I have no idea how exactly they’d moved these houses here, but some of the houses have been converted into a living museum so you can go in and check out the inside of the house and see the old tools etc.

Pretty much every region of Japan has a “thing” they’re known for. I tried theirs for lunch: soba noodle and beef steak rice bowl! Delicious!


We got back to Himeji, where I grew up, and visited my brother’s cafe, Kamada Kura No Coffee! Weee!

My brother opened the cafe about 2 years ago. It had been his dream for a long time, and I was beyond impressed with what he’s done!

Kura is an old Japanese storage house, and he’s converted the building into a modern cafe. Much of the original structure is still there, including walls and beams that are 150 years old!

It’s a really chill space, and Dave and I were there every day while we were in Himeji 🙂

Dave says my brother’s coffee was the best he had in Japan!

Oh and I designed their logo. It was nice to see how everything fit together.

I even hosted a block printing workshop there 🙂 Now I can check off my goal to teach overseas on my goals list.

While in Himeji, we visited the Himeji Castle – it’s a pride of every Himeji person (Himejian? Himejilite?) Ask anyone in Himeji about the castle and they’ll tell you it’s the BEST in Japan 😀

Last couple of times we were in Himeji, it was undergoing renovation, so we weren’t able to see the inside.

This time around, most of the construction was done so we go to see view from the top of the castle.

We had a great time there and wish it was closer – like an hour drive – so I could visit my family and friends more often.

Thanks for letting me share my photos with you! Maybe you’ll make it out there some day 🙂


Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot


How to Get Inspired by What You Eat

I love to eat. And I love to draw what I eat! Surprise!

One of the creative business podcasts I listen to is Seanwes podcast, and he said in one of the episodes that to grow an audience, you need to curate what you share.

He says if you’re an illustrator, don’t be posting a bunch of pictures of your lunch. Instead, you should be drawing it!

That advice stuck with me, and I only shared the drawings of what I ate on Honeyberry Studios’ social media accounts for a long time. (I do share a ton of food photos on my personal account, though!)

I noticed as I made more drawings of food, I became more connected with what I ate.

When you draw what you eat, you take the time to notice the details of what’s on your plate. The ingredients, steps you took to prepare them, the texture, the aroma, the portion of your meal, and of course, the happiness you feel on your tastebuds.

On top of that, food journaling automatically gives you something to draw!

No more staring at the blank page when you’re feeling un-creative 😀 You do eat something every day, don’t you?

Here are some of my more recent food drawings:

vegetable sticks and peanut butter illustration

Veggie sticks and peanut butter. A simple and satisfying snack idea!

zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce with salmon with vegan walnut pesto illustration
Zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce and salmon with vegan walnut pesto. What a refreshing and tasty lunch!

BTW, you can check out the illustrated recipe for the zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce here 🙂

Japanese breakfast kale natto miso rice illustration
I have these phases where all I want to eat is Japanese food. All. the. time. Here is one simple meal I enjoyed the other day.
Oh, this Avocado Chocolate Pudding is so decadent and amazing...!!
Oh, this Avocado Chocolate Pudding is so decadent and amazing…!! My dairy-loving husband approves, too.

Oh man, these drawings are making me hungry… 😀 I better go feed myself now!

Do you want to learn how to create your own food journal? I created a tutorial for Sakura of America and you can watch it on their YouTube channel here.

Eat well and happy creating, my friend! xo


Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Watercolor food drawing tutorials!

I recently made several drawing tutorials for Sakura of America, and my watercolor food drawing tutorial series are now available on their YouTube channel!

1. Let’s Draw Vegetables!

2. Let’s Draw Berries!

3. What’s on Your Plate?

I hope you check them out and let me know how you like it!

If you share your work on Instagram, please tag me @honeyberrystudios so I can enjoy your beautiful work!

Do tell me in the comment below what tutorials you’d like me to work on next! I’m always looking for ideas 🙂

Thanks friend! xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

My Food Journal Drawings from Japan!

I just got back from my Japan trip on Friday, and it was awesome ❤

I doodled while I waited for my flight to Japan :D
I doodled while I waited for my flight to Japan 😀

In this visit, I didn’t actually go home. Instead, I visited my parents in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, where they spent the summer this year.

my parents by the Lake Mashu. It was the most beautiful and peaceful lake I've ever seen!
my parents by the Lake Mashu. It was the most beautiful and peaceful lake I’d ever seen!

Hokkaido is so big and spacious!

They have a huge commercial agriculture and farming industry up there. I felt like I was in Montana or somewhere in the midwest half the time 😀

This was a typical view while we drove around.
This was a typical view while we drove around.

The nature was absolutely breathtaking. My parents took me to see some of their favorite spots.

Lake Mashu, Ashoro, Hokkaido
Lake Mashu, Ashoro, Hokkaido
A Garden at Takushin Kan, Photo Gallery, Biei, Hokkaido
Beautiful cosmos at Takushin-Kan Photo Gallery, Biei, Hokkaido
Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido
Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido

Pretty magical, isn’t it??

And another highlight of my Japan trip was, of course, the food! Hokkaido is known for many foods, like potatoes, corns, beef, pork, and seafood to name a few.

I ended up drawing what I ate every day during my stay. Here are some of my favorites!

(I had plenty of meat-y dishes, and they were all good. But I want to highlight more seafood dishes here because I think turned out prettier :D)

My parents and I had dinner at New Chitose Airport the first night I arrived. I had to try their seafood donburi. It was delish!!
What I enjoyed the most was a simple meal with rice, grilled fish (here I had Hokke) pickled veggies, and miso soup. I appreciated they offer a wider variety of fish in Japan!
We stayed at an onsen (hot springs) inn in Ashoro. Onsen inns typically serve you dinner and breakfast that consist of seasonal local foods in tiny dishes. I love these tiny dishes ❤
Here is what we had for breakfast at the onsen. So simple and delicious ❤ I wish we could’ve stayed there longer!
My mom and I went shopping in Asahikawa and ate at the same restaurant I had the simple grilled fish earlier. They’d started serving Sanma, which is a very common fish you get in Japan but not in the states. Sanma had just come in season, and it was GOOD!
We had sushi at the airport before I left. Yes it was at the airport and it was the conveyor belt sushi (the conveyor belt sushi is actually pretty good in Japan) – BUT we thought it was the best sushi we ever had. WE ATE SO MUCH. I was high from all the glorious sushi for hours afterwards.

I can’t believe how quickly 10 days went by. It’s always so hard to say good bye at the end of my visit. My mom and I usually can’t get too many words out of our mouth because we’re crying… 😦


I also noticed we’ve gotten closer as we got older.

Maybe I’ve become more mature? and am more compassionate towards them… I think my daily meditation practice also helped me stay calm every time they pushed my button 😀 Oh parents.

I hope we all stay healthy and get to enjoy many more visits together! Thank you for the lovely vacation, mom and dad! ❤

xo Yuko

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Behind the Scenes: How I create my recipe illustrations

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I love to cook and eat simple and healthy meals.

I enjoy sharing the recipes I love, and illustrated recipes are a great way to combine my two passions! 

I shared this Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Sauce recipe last week and documented my creative process for the Instagram Story (BTW, I’m really enjoying this feature a lot!)

It was fun to share the process with my followers and thought you might enjoy a little peek, too!

Zucchini pasta recipe creative process
I usually work with pen and ink on paper. Here is the lettering for the title. I’m using a Pigma Micron pen (black, size 01) and Canson Mixed Media sketchbook here.
Zucchini pasta with avocado sauce illustrated recipe process
I have a rough layout in mind when I draw my recipes. Recipes that don’t involve a ton of ingredients and steps are easier to create. And those are recipes I love to cook anyway!
Zucchini pasta with avocado sauce recipe illustration process
I hand write all the texts. I try to make it legible and easy to follow.

Coloring the drawing with my favorite markers: Sakura Koi Brush Pens!

Zucchini pasta with avocado sauce illustration recipe process
Coloring done! I like to use only a handful of colors to keep it simple. For this illustration, red and orange tomatoes look great against the green tones.

Then I scan the image in to edit/manipulate it in Photoshop. This is why I don’t stress too much about layout and mistakes when I draw my recipe on paper. Thank you Photoshop 😀

And it’s ready to post! Hooray!

Hope you enjoyed my behind the scenes creative process today 🙂

p.s. I’m leaving for Japan tomorrow to visit my parents for two weeks 🙂 I’ll be taking a break from my blog next week but will give you my travel report  when I get back!

xo Yuko

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Illustrated Recipe: Zucchini Pasta & Creamy Avocado Sauce

The day has finally come.

I’m a proud owner of a spiralizer!!

I’d been dreaming about having a spiralizer for a while now. I try to avoid refined carbs as much as I can, and a spiralizer would make it easy for me to substitute pastas and noodles and add more veggies to my dish.

Dave got me this spiralizer from Paderno as an early anniversary gift! And I’m so in love ❤

Oh spiralizer, how I longed for you…

I saved this Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce recipe on my Pinterest a few months ago and decided to make it the next day I got my new toy.

It’s been super hot here, and our apartment overheats really easily, so I’m happy to have recipes that don’t require me to turn on the stove after, like, 10am.

It was really easy to assemble and use the spiralizer. Making my zucchini noodles was a breeze!


This recipe is so simple. I was eating my zucchini pasta with avocado sauce within 10 minutes.

Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce. It’s a light and tasty dish perfect for summer lunch!

I had a bunch of cherry tomatoes and basil from our gardens, and they made a nice addition to this cool summer dish.

So refreshing and healthy!

It was so good, I practically inhaled it!! 😀

There will be more spiralizing happening in my future for sure! Do you have any favorite spiralized vegetable recipes? If so, please share in the comment 🙂 I’d love to hear!

xo Yuko

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Illustrated Recipe: Raw Zucchini Hummus

I love to cook with seasonal fresh ingredients. During the summer, our gardens provide us with abundance of summer veggies, like cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, and of course,  zucchinis.

Eat a Rainbow summer vegetable watercolor illustration
Summer is here!! Eat your rainbow every day 🙂

I’m always looking for creative ways to eat zucchinis because they usually come in such abundance.

I have a few go-to zucchini recipes, but I get bored of them after a while… 😀 And before you know it, your crisper gets so full of them! You can’t fit anything else in there, and when you try to jam in your lettuce, they end up getting smushed by the firm zucchinis. I’m sure I’m not the only one who occasionally resents how prolific they are!!

During the summer our tiny apartment gets overheated due to the big west facing windows and the subpar insulation. We try to cook outside on our BBQ grill whenever possible so we don’t have to turn on the oven or the stovetop.

I was delighted to find this raw zucchini hummus recipe on The Detoxinista because 1) it uses the zucchinis raw and 2) I love hummus!

(BTW, I love The Detoxinista so much! Probably my #1 favorite cooking/recipe blog right now. Everything Megan posts there is pretty easy to make, and it gives great options to accommodate many food allergies/sensitivities!)

Bean-free raw zucchini hummus recipe from
Bean-free raw zucchini hummus recipe from

I have allergy to several kinds of beans, and chickpeas, depending on how they were prepared, are sometimes hard to digest… so this zucchini hummus is a great bean-free alternative!

It’s light and refreshing and goes great with your favorite veggies and crackers! YUM.

And I love how easy it is to put together. Just chop up the ingredients and blend them together! That’s my kind of cooking… 😀

What’s your favorite zucchini recipe? Tell me in the comment below and help me keep up with our zucchini production this summer!!

xo Yuko

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Illustrated Recipe: No-Bake Metta Balls (Gluten, dairy & egg-free)

I’m back!!!

(OK, not really – I’m writing this post before I left for my 10-day meditation retreat…and am just about done and getting ready to come home when this post comes out :))

Anyway, I’ll tell you more about how my meditation retreat went next week. I promise.

For now, you can assume it was ________________ (fill in the blank: life-changing, awesome, terrible, hard, boring, enriching, deeply insightful, painful, healing, waste of time, so worth it, tiring, etc. etc.)

Since I don’t have much to say about my meditation retreat yet, I wanted to share a recipe for Metta Balls today! 

What’s a Metta Ball, you ask? Metta is a term used in Buddhist teaching, meaning “loving kindness.”  Metta Ball is a no-bake, nutty and sweet treat that is super easy to put together and of course, so very good.

Meal time is definitely a highlight of the meditation retreat when all you do is sit and try to observe your inner chatter all day long.

And every once in a while, they serve you a dessert. Metta Ball is one of their dessert options.


At the time I’m writing this post, I’m really hoping they serve it at the retreat! With my current dietary restrictions, this is pretty much the only dessert I can eat out of all of their options.

I know I’m supposed to let go of my desires and wishes during the meditation… but desire for a good dessert is probably the last thing I’ll let go of 😀

Be warned – it’s addictive.

When I made these a few weeks ago, I kept peeking in the fridge and reaching in the tupperware, like every 20 minutes. This little treat goes perfect with milk. Or rather, you need milk to wash down the peanut butter that sticks all over your teeth 😀 He he.

I hope you enjoy!

xo Yuko

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Illustrated Recipe: Beet & Walnut Hummus (Gluten-free, vegan)

While we were on our regular grocery shopping trip, I had a craving for a good dip. 

I just wanted to cut up a bunch of vegetables and dip them into something yummy… So I started looking through what they had on their dip and spread shelf.

I’m currently on a gluten, dairy & egg-free diet (Oh and some beans are out for me, too… sad.), and many pre-made dips had one or more ingredients I can’t have.

Yes, I could eat chickpea hummus, but that’s my typical dip of choice, and I wanted to try something new.

And there it was, I saw this gorgeous, creamy, magenta goodness in an 8 oz. tub on the shelf.

And that’s how I met Beet & Walnut Hummus.

Delighted, I picked up the container and read the label closely. And, congratulations! It was made with everything I could eat!

When I was reading the label, I also noticed that the ingredients were pretty much identical to regular hummus (except for the beets and walnut part).

And then I thought, hmmm, I could probably make that at home!

So I did!

Sweet Beet & Walnut Hummus Recipe (Gluten-free, vegan)

I just modified the simple chickpea hummus recipe to create this Beet & Walnut hummus. It’s super easy to make and oh so delectable.

It tastes very much like regular chickpea hummus, but the beets add the slight earthiness, and it’s surprisingly sweet, too.

I mean, how gorgeous is this??
I mean, how gorgeous is this??

Enjoy with veggies, crackers, and anything else you’d eat with the regular hummus!

Enjoy! ❤

xo Yuko

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