Jun 16, 2010

Makiko Itoh of Just Hungry and Just Bento

The time has come - GCB proudly introduces its first food blog editor! 

Makiko of Just Hungry & Just Bento has turned her passion for cooking into a fulltime blogger's career. By explaining Japanese cuisine from the very basics, Makiko has become the online source for help with questions such as 'Which are the 100 Japanese foods I must try?' or 'What is Bento?'.

Follow the link below to find out what Makiko's occupation was before her blogs took off, who of us Drupal is good for, and which other female-edited blogs she's reading for inspiriation.

What's your name, how old are you, and what do you do for a living (or all day, for that matter)?

My name is Makiko (Maki for short), I'm 47 (if you have to mention the age ^_^;), and as of a few months ago I'm a fulltime blogger and writer.

How long have you been blogging? How did you get around to blogging?

I have had some sort of blog since 1999, though I only started blogging regularly in 2001.

What's your blog called and why?

Well, I have four blogs at the moment! My personal site is rarely updated though (makikoitoh.com). My Japanese-language site is updated sporadically (maki.typepad.com). My general food blog, mostly focusing on Japanese cooking and culture (justhungry.com) and my bento blog (justbento.com) are updated regularly.

What are you blogging about? Why?

As you can see, I blog about many things at many places, but I suppose my primary focus is on food and on Japanese culture.

Who's your target audience?

People who read Just Hungry seem to be mostly interested in Japanese cooking and culture, while Just Bento readers are also interested in quick and healthy lunch ideas.

Who designed your blog? How much was that? In case you designed your own layout: Where did you learn how to?

I designed all of my sites myself, since before turning into a fulltime blogger/writer I was a web designer for many years. (I published a book about CSS and Javascript back in 2002.) I learned through trial and error, I guess!

Which software and which host do you use? Can you recommend them?

Except for the language blog, which runs on Typepad, my sites run on Drupal. I can recommend Drupal for people who are planning sites that go beyond the usual blog in structure and complexity, or larger sites, and are comfortable with PHP and generally 'techies'; it's not for beginners though. My personal site actually doesn't need to run on Drupal since it's fairly dormant, but I just use Drupal since I'm familiar with it by now. Just Hungry and Just Bento are busy enough to require the muscle of Drupal.

Again except for the language blog, I have all my sites on a dedicated server.

What role play photos, MP3-files or video clips on your blog? If you use them, would you mind showing us one?

I use photos extensively to illustrate my posts on Just Hungry and Just Bento, less so on the other sites. Here's a recent favorite:


How many readers do you have? How many would you like to have? Does their number matter to you at all?

I do care, especially for Just Hungry and Just Bento, since they are primary sources of income for me at this point :) But beyond that, it's quite gratifying to see that people appreciate reading me, regardless.

Can you learn how to blog? Do you need to know a lot about computers? Do you have any advice for beginners?

I think that anyone can blog - doing it well, or gaining a loyal readership, is entirely up to the individual. You don't necessarily need to know a lot about computers to start a blog - there are several beginner-friendly, ready-to-go blogging platforms out there.

My advice for beginners would just be - if you want to do it, do it! Though if you want to attract readers or even make money from a blog that is another question. To me, a blog is just an easy way to self-publish online; it doesn't have to fit into any preconceived container.

Have you made negative experiences with blogging, too? What kind?

Spam is always a problem. I sometimes get someone sending me an angry, upset, or just plain weird email or comment. But if you put your thoughts out there for public consumption, you are bound to get a little negativity. The positives have far outweighed the negatives.

Do you use twitter, too? Why (not)? What pros and cons do you see when it comes to twitter?

I do use Twitter. I didn't get it for a while but now I do. The positive is that you can share your thoughts with others instantaneously. The main negative - I have a feeling that tweeting random little bits of text as they come to you may drain you of some of your creative or intellectual reserves... and it sure is a distraction during the day! I sometimes catch myself tweeting something at lunch at a restaurant from my iPhone instead of listening to the conversation going on in front of me for example - not good.

Which other female bloggers can you recommend? Why?

I've been following these blogs for years, and they have never wavered in quality. These are my 3 favorites I think -

I admire the elegant writing style (and delicious recipes) of Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini: http://chocolateandzucchini.com

BSAG (But She's A Girl...)  - she has a quiet, straightforward style, and she's a geek like me http://www.rousette.org.uk/

Rebecca Blood is still the queen of blogging; her blog is mostly an old-fashioned link blog, but she has great links! http://www.rebeccablood.net/

In addition -

I collect illustration blogs, and this one is one of my favorites, by Elizabeth Perry: http://www.elizabethperry.com/woolgathering/

Here's another blog with great illustrations - and recipes too! http://kokblog.johannak.com

Elise at Simply Recipes, who has made a fantastic success out of a very straightforward concept: http://simplyrecipes.com

That's it!


  1. She sounds interesting. Will go and read her blogs asap. Thanks

  2. Hi Crystal, glad you enjoyed the interview, hope you'll like Makiko's blog, too! Greetings :)