Do you look forward to springtime? I can tell you that actually spring has just started according to the old lunisolar calendar. The period of the beginning of spring is called ‘Risshun’ in Japan and it’s between the 3rd – 18th February this year. I must say that Japanese are the nation who’d like to celebrate any seasonal occasions so of course we never miss the chance at this particular time of year, however, it’s not for the beginning of spring.
The one day before the beginning of spring is called ‘Setsubun’ (the 2nd /Feb this year). It’s not a national holiday, but rather significant day for most Japanese and there are a few customs we do on this day depending on the area. One of the customs widely done on this day is ‘Mame-maki’. It’s the getting rid of demons and bringing luck into the house ritual. Quite often one of the family members wears a demon face-mask and stands at the entrance of the house and other people throw roasted soybeans (peanuts in shell instead in some area) at him/her from inside the house by shouting ‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!’ which means ‘Demon’s (Oni 👹) out! Luck gets in!’. Another popular custom is eating a futomaki sushiroll with seven fillings called ‘Ehoumaki’ by facing to a certain direction (it’s west-south-west this year).
Ehoumaki Sushirolls & Mame-maki Sweets
I created miniature versions of Ehoumaki sushirolls (cut version) and Soybeans in wooden cup for Mamemaki with Japanese sweets.
The fabulous time has come! It is the season that I am going to have a stall in a Christmas Market in North London. This ‘Jolly Hobbies’ Market is held only once a year during Christmas Time but that is not the only thing this market is special about. It is a Market with a Japanese Theme! It’s organised by a Japanese person and many of the stall holders are also Japanese so the products people are selling there are mostly something related to Japanese culture
I got involved in this market about 5 years ago. Since then it is becoming bigger and bigger and the number of the visitors are increasing every year. The Market started as a kind of craft market first and then recently it has been becoming like a Japanese Street Food Hall too. We serve all sorts of Japanese food hot and cold, such as Sushi and Japanese Curry and many other dishes. It includs my Japanese sweets too.😊 So the visitors can have lunch and look around the stalls to pick some great gifts for Christmas and then buy some Japanese sweet and drink for having Teatime there before going home. It is wonderful to see all the visitors seem to be enjoying the time there.
This year as a Japanese Sweet ‘Wagashi’ maker, I am of course putting my Japanese sweets on the stall which most of them are Gluten-free, Egg-free and Dairy-free. I am planning to to take a variety of ‘Mochi’ type sweets for Mochi fans.(^_-)-☆ I am also going to sell Home-made Vegetable ‘Gyoza’ Dumplings on the day. I hope I can serve as many hot grilled Gyoza dumplings to the happy visitors. However, I am still in the middle of preparation and am not sure how many portions can be ready by Sunday.
It will be a fun day for all the visitors and the stall holders too. If you live in the North London or if you can travel to there, please come to say ‘Hi’ to me. I will be most grateful! 😊 See you there then on Sunday!!
There are several types of alcohol in Japan. Two most well-known ones are ‘Sake’ (Rice Wine) and ‘Shochu’ (Spirit made from materials such as rice, wheat or sweet potatoes). We also have some liquors and the most popular one is ‘Umeshu’ Plum Liquor. I like Umeshu. Although it is an alcoholic drink I have been familiar with it since I was a child. My mother used to make it at home with fresh ‘Ume’ plums. It is very refreshing having it on the rock, neat Umeshu with some ice cubes especially after having a bath in summer. You wait a little until the ice starts melting and dilutes the Umeshu a little then you drink it. Aaaaaah, so heavenly.
Recently I had a chance to attend an ‘Umeshu’ seminar. I loved to find out more about my favourite drink.
The seminar was held at Shoryu Ramen restaurant in Piccadilly Circus, London. It was hosted by Japan Centre and Choya, the biggest Umeshu company in Japan.
The lecturer was Mr. Suzuki from Choya who had just landed in London on the same day. It was great that he incorporated a quiz into the seminar. He explained some facts regarding the Umeshu and gave us questions.
In the evening of ‘Hinamatsuri‘ (Girls’ Day, the 3rd of March) I attended the Sake Tasting seminar which was organised by Japan Centre. The venue was the popular Ramen restaurant Shoryu near Piccadilly Circus in London. Although it was early evening on Thursday the Ramen shop was packed with Ramen lovers. As soon as we arrived in a private Dining Room downstairs we were welcomed with a glass of chilled sake 🍶. Lovely 💓
Red ‘Oni’ with two horns
In Japan we have several special days in a year. The 3rd of February is one of them, It is a day called ‘Setsubun‘.
What is ‘Setsubun’?
Setsubun is written as ‘節分‘ in Japanese which means ‘divide (分)’ ‘season (節)’. The day actually is one day before the changing of season. It seems like we used to have four Setsubun before each season in the past but since Edo era (a few hundred years ago) we particularly cerebrate only the beginning of Spring. So the 3rd of February became our ‘Setsubun’ and we celebrate the coming of Spring on this day.