From Japan, Ryoko Ozasa shares traditions of her native cuisine

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Aug 17, 2011 - 04:56 PM

Photo: Ryoko Ozasa can create gourmet Japanese dishes whether she is in her American kitchen or the kitchen in her homeland. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day.

Ryoko Ozasa can create gourmet Japanese dishes whether she is in her American kitchen or the kitchen in her homeland. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day.

Photo: Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu

She grew up in Japan and learned to cook from her father. "Dad always cooked in my family, but often it was Chinese cooking. That was his favorite. He always had good food for me." Today living both in Japan and in this country, going back and forth, Ryoko Ozasa can fix in her kitchen what her father did in his. She can also bring the Japanese dishes, the ones a gourmet always requests, to the table anytime, anywhere. She did this recently while visiting in Mathews for a couple months.

Ryoko is married to Drew Richardson, a Mathews County native who was sent to Japan to teach English. That’s where they met and lived for several years before returning to the United States with their sons Cole and Ashe, now 11 and 8 years old. They lived in Williamsburg then in Portland, Oregon, before returning to what they refer to as "our Island, Yoron, Japan," where they started their own school, The American Center of English. "The boys will have the opportunity at age 20, I think, to decide which citizenship they wish to maintain."

It’s here that Ryoko’s cooking reverts mostly to the dishes of her native land. "Everything in my kitchen is the same, but no oven. I have a microwave that also is used as an oven. Japanese dishes are simple where the Chinese have more additions to their dishes. I love cooking, but love to eat more. We have a store and a lot of local vegetable stalls and local seafood. If necessary we can go to Okinawa which is about a five-hour trip, but only do this about twice a year. We don’t need things on the Island. It’s a family island where everyone looks after each other."