Experience the Best of Japanese Cuisine in Your Kitchen

Japanese food and cuisine

Although traveling is not feasible, you can still experience the best of Japanese cuisine in your own kitchen! with Kokoro Care Packages. 

Kokoro was founded by two female entrepreneurs, Lillian Hanako Rowlatt and Aki Sugiyama. Just two friends living an ocean apart, but wanted to share their love of authentic Japanese cuisine! While supporting local Japanese farmers and producers. 

What I love most about Kokoro  is the attention to detail and amount of personality in each curated package!  Each item has been personally chosen and is of premium-quality, all-natural Japanese foods produced in various regions, with various flavor profiles.  (So, not your packs of Maruchan ramen packs.)  These products are only found in Japan!

How to Order Your Japanese Care Package:

Their subscription Care Packages are available in two options: a monthly Nourishing Essentials Care Package and a quarterly Seasonal Delights Care Package. One time gift purchases are also available. 

They also offer Collections Care Packages which are available for order anytime, year round. Their Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package contains all the essentials ingredients you need to create delicious Japanese foods in your own home.

Their recently released  Zuru Zuru Noodles: “Yui” Care Package contains their favorite specialty noodles from Japan.

Your Care Package:

Of course, your package will contain the BEST ingredients that you can’t get unless you are in Japan, but the intimacy of the package is what separates Kokoro from any other company. 

Each product has a story behind it, which is written out in your pamphlet as well as product descriptions and recipes.

I have tried each item and not ONE was a letdown.  Even better, I have incorporated many of the products into other cuisines and dishes like my Shikuchu Cocktail, Sesame Banana Bread, and Thai POW Chicken

Kokoro Website Provides More Than Japanese Products:

If you’re new to Japanese foods and customs, Kokoro has you covered! Under the “Kokoro Community” tab, you can find delicious recipes to try with your care package products! You can also learn about history and culture in these blog entries!

Like most things in Japan, my overall experience exceeded my expectation!  And, because the women of Kokoro are soooo thoughtful, they are giving you a 10% discount on orders before August 31, 2020!! Just use the code IMJESSAGIRL at checkout.  Once you get your package, let me know what creations you come up with! 


Koko-Jess Fusion Recipes

Shikuchu Cocktail

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Shikuwasa Juice
  • 1 shot of Shochu
  • Sparkling water

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan, bring to a boil for 1 min, or until desired thickness. Let cool.

Then add one spoonful to champagne flute, add one shot of Shochu, fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. *For extra fun, coat rim with sugar.

Sesame Banana Bread

  •  3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  •  1/3 cup butter, melted
  •  3/4 cup Kokuto Black Sesame Jam
  •  1 egg, beaten
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for topping if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour an 8.5×4.5-inch loaf pan or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas with the melted butter, then add the Kokuto Black Sesame Jam, egg, and vanilla. Stir well with a large wooden spoon.

Sprinkle the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt over the banana mixture. Stir to combine.

Add flour and walnuts or chocolate chips (if desired), and stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slice into 10 thick slices and serve.

Thai POW Chicken

  • 1 tbls Sunflower oil
  • 7 Garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 Chicken breasts (thinly sliced)
  • 4 tbls Soy sauce
  • 3 tbls Oyster sauce
  • 6 tbls Fish sauce
  • 2 tbls Awamori Chili Paste
  • ½ cup green beans (chopped)
  • 1 bunch Basil
  • 1 bunch Culantro
  • 2 cups rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cucumber (sliced)
  1. Thinly slice 2 Chicken Breasts, mince 7 Garlic Cloves, and chop ½ cup green beans.
  2. Set heat to med-high, then add 1 Tbls of Sunflower Oil in a pan.
  3. Add Garlic. Let it sit for 1 minute.
  4. Add Chicken and Green Beans to the pan. Stir until mixed.
  5. Once Chicken is stirred, add Awamori Chili Paste, Soy, Oyster and Fish Sauce to pan. Stir and sit for 1 minute.
  6. Then, add Basil and Culantro. Stir. While that is resting, plate your cup of rice.
  7. Add mixture from the pan next to the portion of rice.
  8. Immediately fry one egg, over medium, then add to the top of the rice.
  9. Add sliced cucumber for garnishment..

How to Move to Thailand Without $1000’s in the Bank

Ever see influencers that travel the world and wonder “How the hell do they do it?”  Well, I can’t speak for everyone else, but for me to achieve my move to Thailand, it was all about prioritization.

I changed my mindset on what I thought my life should look like, saved as much as I needed for the move, got a job overseas & lived beneath my means to afford one year of living/traveling abroad on my own terms. 

move to Thailand

Why did I move to Thailand? 

I’d always wanted to study abroad to experience culture and a different lifestyle, but never had a free summer to do so. 

It wasn’t until I learned about teaching abroad, that I began to take the necessary steps toward making life abroad a reality. 

I was completely over the Buckhead scene in Atlanta; over being surrounded by narcists and disingenuous people, done with the bar scene, fed up with the traffic… I just had to get out!

However, as a teacher in the States, I wasn’t exactly “rollin’ in the dough” :/ But I was determined to change my life for the better and have my “Eat, Pray, Love” kinda journey.

How much did I have to save? 

I knew that I didn’t have the means to live abroad without a job, so I got my TESOL, costing $150. Most schools abroad require some kind of second language teaching certification.

There are tons of teach-abroad websites! I went with teachaway.com. I spoke with an actual recruiter, but you can apply to jobs on the site without a recruiter. 

She gave me 3 options: Thailand, Korea, or China. I didn’t trust being in China (I didn’t want to kiss my social media, Google & Gmail goodbye), I knew little about Korea (other than North Korea was too close for comfort), and I loved Thai food. So, I went with Thailand!

I was told the transition to work there would be easiest if I got a 1 year Multiple Entry Non-Immigrant B visa (that’s a mouthful) . The visa was about $200 from the Royal Thai Consulate in Chicago (you can mail everything in). 

The cost of a one-way ticket to Thailand was about $650

All I needed once I got to Thailand was 1st months rent and money for food & transportation. This would last me until my first paycheck!

  • Rent $500/mo and because I love food I saved $300/mo for that, but I didn’t spend it all. PS. Food is Thailand is super cheap! Most local dishes cost about $2. 

To sum up my embarkment from US to Thailand the total cost was $1800.

How did I save money to move to Thailand? 

As I said before I was teaching in the States, so, like most Americans, I was living paycheck to paycheck BUT I knew I wanted to travel and live abroad, so I PRIORITIZED! 

I stopped caring what my life looked like and focused on what I wanted it to be. Which was a life in Thailand. 

I began eating more meals at home, brought lunch to work, gave up clothes shopping (I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my entire wardrobe with me so no point in adding to it), changed my TV/Internet package, even quit daily visits to Starbucks! I basically budgeted using the oh-so-popular Dave Ramsey method of envelopes! *look into that 😉

It wasn’t hard. And ANYBODY can save if they change their priorities. To be blunt, if you haven’t saved enough money to travel, then you must not want it bad enough, yet. And that really goes for anything you want in life.

How I afford to continue traveling & living abroad:

If you’re planning to live abroad, I would do so only if you are able to bring in income for the first year, at least. This way, you can cut living expenses (cost of living is soooo cheap in SE Asia) by living abroad and save as much as you can.  

For example: a 1 bed/bath in Bangkok (with pool and gym) cost around $500/mo for rent, $200 for food, and ALL utilities (cell, power, water) about $100. Total of $800/month to live. 

Your paycheck (lets say you don’t have teaching experience) will probably be $1,500+. So that’s $700/month you could save x 12 months = $8,400! 

*Obviously, you could spend less a month depending how frugal you are. 

Now, I was able to save a lot more because I was a veteran teacher, and therefore my salary was much higher.

However, I still lived beneath my means and was able to save a FULL YEARS SALARY in one year. And, aside from freelance editing & photography, I am still living off of my savings of 2 years teaching in Bangkok. 

Tip to save: Eat local cuisine as Western restaurants are double, sometimes triple, the cost of local food. And the Western restaurants are never as good as what you’re used to. 

Is it hard to get a work visa? 

Not at all, if you have a job lined up. Luckily, your employer pretty much takes care of all the paperwork.

Once you move to Thailand, your employer is on the clock to prepare everything needed for your work permit, you just have to show up. 

I do recommend applying for a job before you move, and getting a 1 year Non-Immigrant B Visa from your home country. 

Once you get your work permit, you have to check-in every 90 days.

This can be done at the immigration office; you can take a trip to another country and your re-entry counts as a check-in (MAKE SURE YOU GET A RE-ENTRY STAMP BEFORE LEAVING THAILAND! If you don’t, your visa will be automatically cancelled).

There are also multiple companies you can pay that send off your passport and check-in for you for a small fee. (THIS WAS A LIFESAVER beacuase getting to/from immigration in Bangkok is a NIGHTMARE!)

The work permit itself only needs to be renewed every 2 years, and the process from your employer will begin again. 

Is there a certain time limit you are allowed to stay?  

Each country in Asia has different amounts of stay, and it also depends on your Passport country. So, I would check on the country you plan to visit’s Immigration website.  But this is what I know for US Passports: 

Thailand:

If you are working in Thailand, you are able to stay one year without exiting, but with 90 day check-ins. 

There’s also a 90 day visa you can apply for before you leave your home country. 

Or, when you land you have 30 days (without any visa), which you can extend for another 30 days. Total of 60 days. 

Japan:

You can stay for 3 months without a visa, but it cannot be extended. So after 3 months, you have to leave. 

Vietnam:

You can pre-purchase your visa online and you have 30 days to stay, and you can extend for another 30. 

Malaysia:

Without a visa, you have 90 days. 

Indonesia:

You can stay without a visa for 30 days, then you must leave. OR you can get a 30 day Tourist visa for a fee, and extend for another 30 days. 

I hope you found this information valuable and helpful. As always, if you have ANY questions feel free to drop them in the comments, email or DM me on Instagram. 

If you want more for your move to Thailand, check out these posts! 

Do Not Miss This Town in Thailand: Kanchanaburi

The Best Beach Town in Thailand: If you hate touristy islands

Bangkoks Great Escape: The Green Lung


How to Capsule Pack for a Beach Getaway in 7 Easy Steps

What is capsule packing? Well, it’s packing minimal items that you can wear in various situations. Below are the steps to take to pack lightly, which can save you time, space and baggage fees!

Things to keep in mind before you start:
  1. You will probably be going somewhere nice for at least one night. 
  2. Evenings can get chilly. 
  3. Don’t skimp on the sunscreen or aloe. 
  4. If there’s anything to bring extra of, it’s an extra pair of flip flops and sunglasses. (I can’t tell you how many times I have lost both.)

Your Steps to Capsule Pack:

Step 1: Plan your color scheme.

Start by choosing 1-2 neutral colors, then add 1-2 accent colors. The key is that all items can mix/match with each other so you will want complementary colors. Color Scheme example: white and beige neutrals. Light blue & hot pink accents. 

Step 2: Build your basic items. 

You will want to think of how many days you will be staying at your destination. Whatever that number is, cut it in half and that’s how many bottoms you should bring. For example, if my stay is for 6 days, then I bring 3 bottoms. Here is a starter list of items you will need: 

  • Bottoms
  • Tops
  • Dress 
  • Cardigan/sweater 
  • Pair of nice shoes
  • Pair of casual shoes
  • Rain protection (jacket, poncho, or umbrella)

Step 3: Arrange your outfits. 

In a large space (bed, floor, etc) lay out each item and arrange your outfits. Tip: I make sure each item can be worn twice. I usually start with the bottoms, and alternate tops to create different outfits.

Step 4: Add accessories. 

Accessories can definitely transform an outfit, but try not to add too much jewelry, as this will add to your luggage weight. A good way to accessorize is with light scarves, hair accessories, or a hat. Tip: Use a light wrap/scarf to use as a blanket on the plane, as well as a scarf to change an outfit. 

Step 5: Review.

Now that you have your outfits planned, let’s make sure they actually work with your itinerary. 

  •             Do you have comfortable items for the plane ride?
  •             Will this work for an evening out? 
  •             Are these shoes comfortable to walk in? 
  •             Do you have something to wear if it gets cold? 
  •             Can I wear this for (activity)? 

Step 6: Rearrange. 

If there is any conflict to the questions in Step 5, then swap them out accordingly. Again, make sure each item can be worn twice. If it can’t, toss or swap it!

Step 7: Reflect. 

After you return from your trip, think about items you could have used or didn’t need at all and apply that to your next pack!

Need more travel tips? Check out these posts: 


5 Easy Japanese Health Practices To Improve Your Health

In college, I minored in Nutrition, and I have danced my whole life, so the importance of nutritional and physical health is not foreign to me. But in Japan, the emphasis on health is a part of EVERYONE’S daily life.  (Which is why they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world.)  There are billboards, commercials, lessons in school…. (the list goes on) all focused on ways one can stay healthy.  But here are 5 easy Japanese health practices you can start today:

Easy Japanese Health Practices:

1. Take a bath.

 Not just for obvious reasons of cleanliness, but because the benefits of taking baths have been scientifically proven. Benefits like: preventing, and even curing, some illnesses due to the rise of core body temp; improve sleep because of the decline in body temp after a bath; promotes blood circulation; and can even promote weight loss. 

In Japan, the ritual of onsen (Japanese hot springs) visits are a huge part of Japanese culture.  When visiting Japan, visiting an onsen or staying at a ryokan (Japanese inn with public baths) is a MUST!  

Onsen, bath, tea, relax, meditate

2. Nutrition.

The importance of proper nutrition is taught in the home AND at school.  One agenda is to eat 30 varieties of food a day to ensure each organ has the appropriate nutrition it needs to function optimally.  If you want to learn more about what daily consumption is like in Japan? Read about it here:

3. Walk it out.

No seriously, walking is a HUGE thing here.  Most people don’t own cars in Japan.  It’s not that they can’t afford it, it’s just there is not much space on this tiny island.  Instead, people walk or bike for their daily commute.  Also, not just space being an issue, they know the importance of physical activity.  I know 93-year old’s here that still get out and walk every day for 30 min!  You know what they say, if you don’t use it you lose it.

Japanese street, walking

4. Limited snack attacks.

Japan has some pretty delicious, and of course nutritious, snacks.  But most adults skip snacking on empty calories and eat three big meals a day.  Yep, I mean BIG. 

I think the common misconception about Japanese women staying thin is because the portions are small in Japan than America.  I can guarantee you… they’re not.  If anything, some portions are even LARGER than in the states. So much so that I can never clean my plate when we go out to eat :/  

Japanese food, tonkatsu rice

5. Wash yo hands!

Japan is known for its OCD when it comes to cleanliness.  And it’s true!  I’ll never forget the first time I went to Tokyo and I actually saw workers scrubbing the subway tile on the wall…. I mean, that is dedication!

But it’s no surprise when one of the most common customs is to take off your shoes before entering a home.  Since living here, I find it weird that we wear our shoes inside in America… gross. 

Since living here, I take my shoes off, go straight to the bathroom and wash my hands when I enter the house.  Then, when I take a shower, I do it the Japanese family way: shower outside the tub, soak inside the tub, then shower again to get the sweat off.  Yes. They shower, soak, and shower again.  See… OCD (but totally makes sense)! 

Onsen, shower, Japanese bath

Want to see what our Japanese home looks like? Check out the video below! 


Slow Travel: A Local Guide to Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto is one of Japan’s top tourist destinations! But, if you’re like me and don’t like crowds, I’m here to show you a more local, slow travel guide to the city. My favorite places to go, food to eat, and a few helpful tips for your trip to Kyoto, Japan. 

Kyoto, Japan Temple and architecture. Tea house with a view.

What I love about “slow travel” is it gives you the opportunity to truly experience the culture and live everyday life like a local. Sure, you want to see all those IG-worthy spots, but a city is so much more than that. It’s history, community, and routine. Which is why I love staying in an apartment, as opposed to a resort. 

Our Stay

We stayed in a small apartment near Kuinabashi Station. It was a quiet neighborhood, filled with parks for children, three different groceries, and multiple train stations. 

The home had a small bath (as most Japanese homes do because baths are a part of every family’s routine), a kitchen and two bedrooms. We cooked often because the fresh and seasonal ingredients from the grocery closest to us was always stocked! Which made our rule of eating 30 a Day super easy 🙂

Japanese food set healthy vegetables

Food & Drink 

Pickles & Sake

This sounds like an odd combo but at Gabana sake pub, they have it figured out! The contrast between the mild, sweet sake and sharp, pickled veggies pairs so well together. It is standing room only, but with only a small menu, it won’t take long to finish.

drinking sake at market in Japan
pickled fermented vegetables Kyoto Japan

Tea in Gion

Obvisously we had to visit the oldest part of town, but places like Gion, Arashiyama and Fushimi-Inari are FULL of tourist traps and overpriced restaurants. 

Luckily, we stumbled upon this charming tea house when I was in DESPERATE need of caffeine. Little did we know that the white coffee and fresh pastries came with a private view of Kyoto’s oldest pagoda, Yasaka. 

This was TRULY a hidden gem. 

Comfort Food

Although a nation-wide chain, Wako is my FAVORITE tonkatsu place (even though I never order the tonkatsu, lol). The panko-fried fish and oysters are perfectly moist and crunchy. And, the famous miso soup is full of nutrients as well as super tasty. It is comfort food at its finest! 

Wako tonkatsu restaurant Kyoto Japan
tonkatsu Kyoto Japan kaki fry miso soup rice Japanese food set

Around Town

Busy, Busy, Busy

Honestly, I love Kyoto Station. I love looking over the city on the Skyway and I could shop at Isetan forever! 

I also talk about my favorite hidden bar in the video at the bottom of the page! It was by far the most ideal setting for an evening cocktail. 

Kyoto Tower city nightlife

(Not-so) Secret Garden

I’m usually not much for gardens, but if this place was as beautiful as it was during winter, I can only imagine how  stunning it is during Spring and Summer. No matter what time of year it is, Kyoto Botanical Garden is always a great way to spend the day strolling through nature, meditating in the French Garden or English Garden or Japanese Garden… so many ways for you to reflect and appreciate every sound, smell and sight. 

white flowers Kyoto Botanical Garden
English garden Kyoto Botanical Garden trees

Lessons in Travel

The language barrier can be real. Unlike other tourist destinations, Japan’s economy doesn’t rely on Westerners… so there is very little incentive for them to learn English. Try to learn just a few phrases. A little effort can go a long way!

Shop seasonal produce… Truth be told, in Japan you don’t really have a choice. But it was nice to know that seasonal items were grown locally (be it in Kyoto or Japan in general) which makes it that much, more special 🙂 and makes it taste even better. 

daifuku Japanese dessert red ripe strawberries

MAIN LESSON: Slow down. I guess I have really been slow traveling since moving to Thailand from 2017-2019. But, when I over-planned and packed a ton of activities into our New Year’s and my mom fell, I realized I did too much. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see and learn about places you visit, but it should be enjoyable… not run by a natzi. 

Check out a few secret gems I found in Kyoto!


Adapted Christmas Traditions from Living Abroad

Living abroad definitely has it’s ups and downs. One being… HOLIDAYS! I miss my family so much during Christmas. However, I have learned to share the Christmas spirit with friends in Asia, as well as adapted my traditions to fit my lifestyle abroad. Here are a few old, and new, traditions I have on my list:

Origami Ornaments

Now that we live in Japan, a Buddhist country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, I wanted to mix some of their traditions with my own. So, rather than making your typical glass ornaments, or popcorn and cranberry garlands, I have been making origami decorations instead.

Christmas Light Spotting

Although I have lived in a Buddhist country for the last few years, I still find that people in Asia, although don’t celebrate Christmas, still love the decorations. So prior to Christmas I make sure I hit up all the light displays around town. 

Christmas Crackers

This is a fun tradition from my friends in England. It’s a roll of fun! Filled with candy, toys, a crown and a joke. 

On Wednesday’s We Wear Green

This is one I’ve added after living in Thailand for 3 years. In Thailand, each day of the week represents a different color. Christmas is not a holiday celebrated in Thailand, but I have adopted the daily colors by wearing the color of the day on Christmas, even if it’s not your tradition Christmas color. 

Candle in the Window

This one is thanks to my heritage from Ireland. On Christmas Eve, a candle is placed in the window to welcome anyone passing by. Others, however, believe it is to symbolize the welcome of Mary and Joseph, or Catholics and Priests. Either way it is a tradition my family has always done and I still do today. 

Christmas Pajamas

My sister and I started this when we were younger, but we would wear matching pajamas on Christmas eve. In most recent years I have not been with my sister on Christmas, but I still make members of my household participate J And, I have made my pajamas crazier and tackier. I find that this is a good distraction in those early Christmas morning photos 😉

Cream Cheese Stuffed Christmas Toast

Stuffed French Toast- this is my own Christmas doing. Citrus like clementines and mandarin are popular during this time of year. So, I make my famous, and fattening, French toast. I feel like the one day to splurge on sweets is Christmas! This meal also goes well with Christmas mimosas (for those of you that are dealing with a lot of family ;))

 


Japan’s Best Piece of History: Ako’s 47 Ronin

The story of the 47 Ronin is my favorite from Japanese history. It is also a story that many foreigners are not familiar with. But don’t worry, I’m here to share a summarized version with you now: 

It was at the turn of the century, the 17th century that is, when the town of Ako would change forever.

Every year Lord Asano made the journery from Ako to Tokyo with his samurai, gaurds, and many others from the village. 

In 1701, Lord Asano was at a reception at Edo Castle in Tokyo. While there, he and Kira (a powerful official) had a bit of a disagreement. Some say Kira was displeased by insufficient presents from Asano. Some say Kira continuously insulted and ridiculed Lord Asano.  

Whichever is true, something led to Asano, who had been even-tempered, losing his temper and attacked Kira with a dagger. 

The wound was hardly lethal, but a crime just the same and Lord Asano was sentenced to death. 

Because of Asano’s status, he was able to perform seppuku, ceremonial suicide, which allowed his family to keep honor to their name. 

However, the death of Lord Asano left his samurai masterless, or ronin. 

Lord Asano’s head samurai, Oishi, knew his Lord had been treated unjustly by Kira and plotted with 47 other ronin to plan an attack to avenge their Lord. 

Kira, being no fool, sent his men to spy on the ronin to assure he was in no danger of revenge. For TWO YEARS Oishi and the others led their lives as divorced men, town drunkards, visiting brothels, moving to Kyoto and Tokyo, and all to make sure Kira was thrown off their scent. 

Once Kira’s men had assured them that Oishi and the others were honorless samurai, it was time to attack. 

The men split into two groups, one led by Oishi and one led by his son, and began to play their well laid-out plan. 

They surrounded Kira’s home, capturing guards and scaling the walls. They posted swordmens and archers to fight off Kira’s men. They came to Kira’s room, who’s bed was still warm. 

Finally, they came to a hidden courtyard and found a man they thought to be Kira. Oishi came to the man, and it was indeed Kira. 

Oishi offered Kira, because of his status, to commit seppuku and Oishi himself would act as kaishakunin (person who beheads one commiting seppuku to avoid a lingering death), but Kira being coward just trembled in fear. 

Alas, the men pinned Kira down and Oishi killed and beheaded him. 

Quickly after, Oishi ordered one ronin to run back to Ako to spread the story, and the others took Kira’s head to Sengaku-ji temple to Lord Asano’s grave. 

The tale spread quickly, and many petitioins began on behalf of the, now, 46 ronin. 

Knowing that this attack would lead to death, the samurai had not anticipated the officials decision to grant seppuku on the grounds of their Lord’s grave. But the dedication, commitment and loyalty of their actions could not go unnoticed. 

Getting to Ako:

Depending on what part of the country you are in, you will take various trains or just one. However, the name of your final destination stop is Banshū-Akō Station.

Before You Go:

If you want to learn more about the story here are my two suggestions: 

47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves- A loosely-based movie about the 47 Ronin… minus the half-breed and magic.

47 Ronin by John Allyn- This is a little more accurate than the Hollywood produced movie. And gives much more detail true to story.

Either way, it is a story worth knowing and sharing. If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, I suggest Sengaku-ji temple and Ako being on your list!