From mountain biking and mountain climbing to sea kayaking and surfing, Junji Kosuzume enjoys the open air to the maximum.

“You only live once, so I thought it would be fun to try many things,” says the 48-year-old outdoor activity coordinator.

In recent years, his occasional destination has been Alaska. He made his first visit about 10 years ago when he was working for an outdoor-gear manufacturer. A colleague invited him to join a rafting tour down a river in a rubber boat.

After some time, a man who had been working as a guide for the Alaska tours at that time retired and Kosuzume, who had experienced the Alaska tour a few times by then, took over. As a tour guide, he took people on kayak and hiking trips.

Kosuzume stresses that the appeal of the outdoors is being able to experience the extraordinary.

“Car camping is relatively easy, and you can experience the extraordinary that is close to the ordinary. On the other hand, in Alaska the sky is huge, the mountains are high and the vegetation is different from that in Japan.

“Sometimes you go to places that are cut off from communications. Such life just fascinates me.”

In the outdoors, things often do not go as planned. You may not catch the fish that was to become your meal; or if it starts to rain, it becomes colder than expected, and so on. When that happens, Kosuzume takes a flexible approach and switches from making sandwiches to some warm rice porridge.

“Even coming up with an alternative plan is fun,” he says.

The sardine bowl is a backup menu he has in mind in case he cannot catch salmon in Alaska. He buys canned sardines in oil at the local supermarket. This time he uses “arufa-mai” (instant rice) that is ready to be eaten by rehydrating with water or hot water.

The sardines are cooked with onion and seasoned with soy sauce and sugar, which create a soothing sweet soy sauce flavor.


(Serves one)

1 bag (100 grams before rehydration) instant rice

1 can sardines in oil

1/2 medium-sized onion

1 slice garlic

1 to 2 tsp each of soy sauce and sugar

100 cc water

Black pepper


Bring water to a boil in pot. Pour the boiling water into the bag of rice as instructed.

Finely slice onion and place in frying pan. Add garlic, some oil from can and sautee over medium heat.

Add water, soy sauce and sugar and simmer for about 1 minute. Add sardines and cook for another minute.

Serve rice in bowl, place sardines on top. Sprinkle with black pepper.

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From The Asahi Shimbun's Watashi no Ryori column