Dec 04, 2021
[Column] Adult "add-learning," opportunity is just right there

Monthly column in Asahi Newspaper Hokkaido version
December 4th, 2021. Noyuri Mima


 Thanksgiving is a holiday that is considered more of a family gathering than Christmas in the US. I have been staying with my friends for more than 30 years during this vacation. Their children are now independent, and the couple lives by themselves.

 The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives significantly, and so has this family. This couple works in Silicon Valley, and they both work remotely. They have become accustomed to this way of living and have found its advantages, and they will not change the style even after the pandemic is over.

 What I found changed from before was they are both very passionate about cooking. They have mastered some cooking methods, such as the sous vide, and the full-sized oven is now used every day. They are very conscious of foods, cooking methods, and flavors contributing to their health.

 They taught me about cooking utensils and food storage methods that I had not seen or even known existed in Japan. I shared with them some of the know-how I had accumulated on preserving the quality of seasonal foods and seasonings that have become popular in Japan recently, such as Shio koji.

 They are big fans of Japanese cuisine, but since they couldn’t make it to the restaurant due to the pandemic, today we will go grocery shopping together, and I will make some Japanese home-style dishes.

 They never miss their daily hour-long walk, and yesterday I joined them for a two-hour walk through the vast wetlands bird sanctuary nearby. As we walked, we talked about various things, from art, movies, and books to work and our children who have now grown up, and it was like a time to bridge the gap of 20 years.

 Their daughter, who loves to read, started a book blog about two years ago as a hobby while working. In the past year, it has grown to have 30,000 followers. It’s called “Bookstagram” because it introduces books with photos. (

 She came over for dinner and told me that more than 80% of her followers are girls, which you can see from the pictures. She said that she doesn’t get much income from this, but she is happy to have received over 300  new books from publishers. The growing popularity of these blogs is probably because while we cannot go to bookstores due to the pandemic, we have more time to read.

 I have recently referred to adult learning as “add-learning” rather than “re-learning.” “Re-learning” means learning again what you have learned before. Even adults want to learn new things. That’s why I think it is more appropriate for adults to call it “add-learning.” The place doesn’t have to be a school. Just like this family, the opportunity to learn is always there.