Seated in a sunny corner of a Tokyo cafe, Jill Sinclair Ito has the relaxed air of someone with all the time in the world. In fact, this vibrant British septuagenarian, who is celebrating a personal milestone of 50 years in Japan this year, has a schedule to rival many people half her age. She shared her memories of half a century of living in this country.

Longtime readers of The Japan Times might recognize Ito as the writer of Cooking with the Seasons, a weekly feature that ran from 1978 to 1997. In the pre-Internet era, the column was a godsend for foreign residents seeking easy and tasty recipes they could make with ingredients that were readily available. Cookery writer, however, is just one among several strings to Ito's bow.

Hailing from the city of St. Albans to the north of London, Ito was interested in other cultures from a young age. Upon leaving secretarial school, she took a job as assistant to the press attaché at the Indonesian Embassy in London.