present joys

Aya Yamasaki


Words by:

Aya Yamasaki

Aya Yamasaki is the Social Media Manager of Hightide DTLA, one of our favorite spots in the city to stock up on stationery. Simply put, Aya is a lovely example of style plus substance. She has a knack for instilling beauty in the everyday–from the outfits she assembles to the meals she makes–and also contains the most kind and curious spirit. Read on for Aya’s latest joys!

Nana's Crescent Cookies

A holiday tradition my husband Ryan and I share is to bake crescent cookies from Ryan’s Nana, using a straightforward recipe with just five ingredients. Every time we bake these cookies, we think of Nana dearly and reminds me how she laughed. Love her!

Car Curtain

A lovely surprise and a detail I encountered the other day in a rideshare car: a decorative plastic curtain was hung between the backseat and the front seats. This made my short ride quite enjoyable as I looked through the floral motifs.

Seikatsu Forever by Naomi Terai

Sometimes I treat myself to buy interesting sounding books from this independent book shop called On Reading, based in Nagoya, Japan and Seikatsu Forever was one of the books I recently picked up. The book is a full of humorous and sincere Tanka poems and essays about Naomi’s mundane life that makes you chuckle. 

Naomi Terai also works under Habotan and she hand crafts these adorable clay dolls, in the US, my friend Oitama sells her dolls - you should check them out! 

Xmas Nosh-Down

Since we do a family get-together holiday on Thanksgiving, for Christmas, Ryan and I have this “lock-in, nosh-down” event at our humble home. Basically, we just snack and sip beverages all day in a lounge wear—a very care-free way of spending Christmas, I think. We’ve been enjoying this event so much, these past years (post covid, ofc), we invited our lovely friends and it was so much fun! Our Nosh list always changes, but regular faces are charcuterie & panettone from Mario’s Italian Deli & Market in Glendale.

The Color Red

This holiday season, I was all about the color red, which became almost a color therapy for me. We usually don’t have a Christmas tree or any special holiday decorations, but this year, I felt like having some cheerful colored things like these red & white flowers—I don’t know what they are called.

Making a Casual Osechi

One joyous thing I do every new year is to prepare a casual version of the Osechi (Japanese new year meal).

This year, I made Ozoni, a light dashi-based soup with mochis, spinach, carrots and a grilled shrimp, which symbolizes longevity in Japan. I also made some decoratively-cut pickles, shaped like the mum flowers. The last dish I prepared was a simply sliced Kamaboko, fishcake, topped with generous amount of the soy-marinated Ikura! The way to start your new year right…with good-looking symbolic food.

Volunteering at Little Tokyo Library

I started helping a children’s librarian prepare kids’ craft classes in 2022. I usually go there once a week or so. There is this perfect team work in place. Usually the librarian brings all the photo-copied papers that need to be cut, and I come in and cut them out one by one. It is a very rewarding moment for me as I love this Little Tokyo branch and I could give back a little! I cut out a bunch of illustrated dragons for the new year’s zodiac on my recent volunteer visit.

A few more joys from Joyce and Michelle...

Has my hibernation mode been exacerbated due to my new Letterboxd membership? Maybe, but I am entirely okay with it. It’s been so fun to watch more films and go down different internet rabbit holes–something that feels increasingly rare (but desired!) these days. Recent recommended watch: The Making of Tampopo

The Case for Criticism

Enjoyed this episode of Critics at Large, namely Vinson Cunningham’s perspective of criticism as a way to engage in and extend our lives.

Found Vinyl

We’re going to see The Rite of Spring next month at The Music Center so I was excited to find this Stravinsky on vinyl on a recent trip to Battery Books.

Feed App

Very into the idea of any kind of food as gift, so I was excited to see Sharon Brenner’s Unique Finds Box on the feed app. I’d love it if there was a post-partum option for all the new moms in my life, but perhaps I can customize my own. (BTW if you’re in LA, try and catch an Athena Dinner, it’s delicious and a nice way to meet new people).

Speaking of Babies

Liana Finck’s new book “You Broke It!” will be added to all post-partum gifting.

Low tech tech

Been enjoying using my Fitbit lately. It’s the perfect balance of getting baseline data on fitness, but not being to intrusive into my daily life. Looking to find more ways to lower the impact of technology in my life—barring the eight-ish hours I spend on the computer everyday of course. This also reminds me of technology shabbat which is maybe another way of honoring this desire.

Rooms in conversation

Perhaps this is a very “Intro to Interior Design” kind of idea, but I’ve been thinking more and more about rooms as animate spaces that have personalities and can speak to one other. I imagine how one space might question the other and how acting on these imaginary interactions could make our space feel at once more cohesive and curious.

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