Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hashimaki (chopstick roll) & Matsuri (festival)

Saturday night there was a small festival in our neighborhood. That morning we were woken up by the sound of taiko (drums) beating in the nearby park. Up until that time, there had been no mention of any festival, but the moment we heard the practice we knew it was coming.

By noon they had set up the entire matsuri and were practicing drumming. In case you don't know what a mattsuri is, check out the following link:

We decided to visit the matsuri and check out the action. It was a very small festival compared to some of the festivals we've been to in Japan. I think it was just for the people in our neighborhood.
We had hiyashiame, ひやしあめ, (cold candy), which is a drink sold where the vendor shaves ice on what looks like hand planer into a cup and then adds a sweet liquid that tastes a bit like sweet black tea with ginger in it. It was pretty good. The most interesting part was watching the guy shave the ice to make the hiyashiame. If you ever get a chance to try something original and not westernized, hiyashiame is the thing to try.

While there, we sampled all the snacks and such from the booths where they sell everything from shaved ice (kakigori) to octopus dumplings (takoyaki). And then I stumbled upon one item I hadn't had in a while, chopstick rolls (hashimaki).

Hashimaki looks like a pancake, wrapped around a pair of chopsticks, then covered in a sweet soy sauce called okonomiyaki sauce, topped with mayonnaise, seaweed flakes (nori) and fish flakes (katsuo). You eat it much like you'd eat a corndog, only it's a bit messier.

View the video below for more detail:

And so we enjoyed the sites and sounds of the little masturi in our village. The most enjoyable time was watching the children do the children's dance. Quite a few children would gather around the drum tower (yagura) once a certain song was played. And then they'd go around and around the drum tower doing a type of line dance. It was very cute.

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