I was planning on writing a full update about the festival tonight, but a lot of things got me in a real bad mood and I do not feel all that motivated to write a bunch. I will not really go into details about the actual festival and its history in this post. However, fear not, for I shall give you part one of my festival update: FOOD! To be honest, the main reason I go to most festivals is for the food. Now, some of the food is better than others, but Japanese matsuri (祭り・festivals) certainly provide a lot of delicious things to eat and some very intriguing things to look at.
For some reason I cannot remember the exact name of this sweet. It is essentially a gummy sugar based liquid that covered some fruit. It is not hard, but is more of the consistency of syrup that has hardened just enough that you can hold it without it melting. It is not bad, but rather difficult to eat. My host sister, Yasumi, loves the stuff and she always gets it when we go to festivals.
These are pretty much what they look like: chocolate covered bananas. These are extremely popular at festivals and practically every child will eat two, or more of these, when they visit a festival. These are a favorite of my host brother, Ryu, and he had about 4 when we went to the festival together. They are usually covered in sprinkles or some sort of confection like that. There are sometimes small cookies stuck on the top of the bananas.
These adorable teddy bear shaped cakes are castella which is a popular Japanese sponge cake made of sugar, flour, eggs, and starch syrup, very common at festivals. The smell is sweet and alluring and I cannot help but buy these whenever I go to a festival. I guess you could say that these are one of my favorites. They come is all sorts of shapes. Teddy bears is very common shape, but Pikachu and Hello Kitty are also becoming increasingly popular. I bought Pikachu castellas this year, but I felt bad eating them because Pikachu’s face was too cute.
This is a matsuri food that I cannot eat. This is a squid on a stick. This seems to be popular with slightly older people – and by older I mean college graduates and young parents. Jun says that these are delicious, but I will just have to his word on that.
These are not specifically matsuri foods, but they are very common in Japanese culture. This is a snack called dorayaki and is a type ofJapanese confection which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of sweet red bean paste. The ones pictured above are not just red bean paste, but there is also custard crème and green tea. Dorayaki is also Doraemon’s favorite food.
This is Hiroshima okonomiyaki and is one of my favorite non-sweet Japanese foods. is a Japanese savoury pancakecontaining a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yakimeaning “grilled” or “cooked.” What makes Hiroshima okonomiyaki unique is that the ingredients are layered instead of mixed together. The layers are typically batter, cabbage, pork, and optional items such as squid, octopus, and cheese. Noodles (yakisoba, udon) are also used as a topping with fried egg and a generous amount of okonomiyaki sauce. It is delicious and I highly recommend it!
This is yakitori (chicken sheesh-kebabs) and is not only a common food at matsuri, but also at bars. The meat being sold in the above picture is the breast, heart, liver, and (cow’s) tongue. Needless to say, I went with the breast.
Jun said that these hamburgers are delicious, but we were too full to order one. I was more amused by the fact that hamburgers made an appearance at a Japanese festival. I will have to make sure that I get one next year.
These are apple candies (りんご飴) and are the Japanese version of a candied apple. They sometimes make them out of regular sized apples, but these tend to be made out of crab apples for a more manageable snack. They also sell the same version with mangos, strawberries, oranges, grapes, and pineapples. I like these guys, but they are really sweet and you don’t want to eat too many of them.
TAKOYAKI! This is my favorite matsuri food and I could eat these all day. These are a Japanese dumpling made of batter, diced or whole baby octopus, tempurascraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion, topped with okonomiyakisauce, green laver (aonori), mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (fish shavings). I can’t do the baby octopus, but the diced ones are tasty. The more mayonnaise the better!
Here is a better picture of the actual takoyaki along with a sausage.
Sweet potatoes are famous in Kawagoe, so a matsuri would not be complete without some sweet potato based foods. First up are sweet potato chips on a stick. They are slightly deep fried and they sprinkled with several different flavors. I personally always opt for the salt and pepper as I like the flavor of sweet potatoes, but Jun likes to put sea weed based powder on his.
Next up is sweet potato ice cream. I know, purple ice cream is a little freaky looking and it probably doesn’t help that it is a potato based ice cream. However, this is delicious and may be one of my favorite soft served ice creams. It is sold in Kawagoe during the year at all times, but I tend to only eat it during matsuri season.
Coming in my next entry I promise to talk more about the actual matsuri. I took some great pictures of the dashi (wooden floats) and a few other things of cultural note. For now, I have some more elementary school prep to do and then I need to head off to bed. I hope you enjoyed looking at all the different foods!