The main reason I went back to Japan this time was that my family had a Buddhism memorial service called ‘Hohji (法事)’. A Monk visited our home and gave us a prayer service. It lasted about 30 minutes to an hour. It was not that long but you had to be seating on a ‘Tatami (たたみ)’ mat and that was the toughest part of it. We of course sat on a cushion ‘Zabuton (座布団)’ but since I’ve been living in the UK for a while now and not used to seating on my leg … My legs became numb. The monk told us to sit in any position we felt comfortable and followed by telling us that he knew somebody who had broken her/his bone because s/he had tried to stand up and stumbled due to numbed legs. It was a hilarious story that we thought a little too extreme. Anyway we finished our prayers, thanked and said good-bye to the monk. None of us broke our bones luckily.
Before the service we had a special lunch for the day.
Do you know this beautiful shiny fish?
It is ‘Sanma (さんま, 秋刀魚)’ in Japanese. I have learned it’s called ‘Pacific Saury’ in English just recently. I never had a reason to search their name before because I have never seen them in London. Oh, only once actually in Japanese food shop but it was a frozen one.
The fish swim towards Japan in a big shoal in Autumn season with lots of oil on its body for laying eggs. They apparently have a very short life for just two years or something… 😦
Lots of Sanma appear in fishmongers in Autumn. It is one of the Taste of Autumn for Japanese.
So how do we eat them?
Of course there are many ways to cook it. Some are very regional like famous ‘Sanma Sushi’. However, the way I like the most is the simplest one.
Look what I’ve got …
What can I make with these?
So it is officially Autumn now. Whilst I stayed in Japan I had a chance of eating ‘Kuri Gohan (Rice with Chestnuts)’ twice. It is one of the seasonal food you MUST have in Autumn.
I visited a famous land of ‘Kuri (Chestnut)’. I spotted great looking Chestnuts sold at a tiny train station so I brought some back home.
One of the things I was looking forward to when I went back to Japan was of course ‘Manju (まんじゅう)’ the Japanese sweet. I can make some by myself but I just wanted to try some very good ones that I cannot find in London.
As I mentioned previously in “the Taste of Autumn” we are sensitive to changing seasons in Japan and ‘Wagashi (和菓子)’ the Japanese sweet is no exception. At the very beginning of Autumn the colour/pattern/ingredients of Japanese sweets have been already changed into Autumn theme.
In the heart of Nagoya in Japan I found a very old-fashioned ‘Ramen’ shop in the basement of a building. Ramen shops in London try to look fashionable (and charge more) but all the Ramen shops used to be like this shop in very retro style when I was a child. It looked so nostalgic and I could not resist going inside …