Hiroko Shimbo is a native of Japan and received American citizenship in 2017. To understand Hiroko and the genesis of this book it is important to understanding her family background. Hiroko was raised by her mother and father first in Western Japan and then from age seven in Tokyo. Her father Hiromu, descended from a Samurai family, and was a physician who operated a small hospital-clinic on the ground floor of their home in Tokyo. He was a surgeon who performed procedures in the operating theater of his clinic, and with nursing staff. In later years he also provided psychological counselling for many of his patients. Hiroko’s mother, Tokuko, was born and raised, as was her father, in the small town of Takada City, Niigata Prefecture, on the Western Japan Sea side. Tokuko’s life was enriched by a long family history with many tales of the past including stories of cooking and exposure to Western culture and cuisine.
Tokuko enjoyed a privileged upbringing as the youngest daughter of a gifted father who was a physician, a traditional poet, generous landlord, food lover, an adaptor of the best of Western culture and practitioner of democracy in all aspects of his personal and professional life. These characteristics nurtured Tokuko in childhood and she grew up to be an open-minded and independent woman who cared for others, loved to cook, enjoyed every kind of good food and showed appreciation to all beings and things that touched her life. When Tokuko became the wife of a doctor in Tokyo, she played multiple roles in a busy life; wife, mother, manager of the clinic, and most importantly a cook who prepared daily meals for family, nurses and the in-patients staying at the clinic during recovery after surgery. Hiroko received all of her mother’s life lessons in her body and mind, especially those related to food and cooking.
After graduating from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo with a BA in education and working for a stint as a secretary at a Tokyo branch office of an American securities firm, Hiroko headed to her passion of educating and connecting people and nature through Japanese food.