Eel Kabayaki

In Japan, the popular way of eating an eel is Kabayaki (蒲焼), a grilled eel with a sweet sauce made of soy sauce and sugar after filleted and boned. An eel has been considered as nutritious and stamina-generating food in Japan. Many people eat Kabayaki in summer, especially on a particular day called "doyo-no ushi-no-hi (土用の丑の日). The custom is derived from that an owner of an eel restaurant consulted Hiraga Gennai, a famous herbalist and inventor about the decrease in sales in summer. He suggested him to put an advertisement at the door of the restaurant which catchphrase was "Today is the day of Doyo-ushi ", because people in those days believed in the tradition of eating dishes that began with the letter u on the day of "Ushi-no-hi" was good for the health. By the way, an eel is called Unagi (うなぎ) in Japanese.

Japanese sanshō (山椒) powder is indispensable for Kabayaki. Every elel restaurant has it on each table available and packed Kabayaki are always sold with it and a small bottle of sweet sauce.


Chicken Nanban チキン南蛮

Kyushu (九州) is is the third largest island located in the southewest of Japan. It has 9 prefectures and each has many local specialities. Chikin Nanban (チキン南蛮) is a speciality of Miyazaki prefecture and lately becomes popular in another areas and especially a favorite as a dish for bento. It consists of a deep fried chicken coated with flour and egg, sour souce with soy sauce, sugar and vinegar, and tartar sauce. The dish has both a sourness from vinegar and a mildness from boiled eggs in tartar sauce and they are well suited to the flavor of the chicken.

By the way, Nanban means Portugal narrowly and China and Holland are involved widely. Normally deep fried fish or meat marinated with a vinegar sauce are called Nanban.


A local festival in Japan

I went to a festival in Zushi city, which was supported by a local shrine. Most of Japanese festival are supported by a local shrine or temple, and you can see Mikoshi passing through a street and hear the sound of Taiko drums.
Originally Mikoshi is a portable Shinto shrine and the vehicle of a divine. Only during a festival it is brought from a shrine. people bear the Mikoshi on their shoulders by means of the two or four poles shouting "Wasshoi!".

The vehicle on the left pic is a float with Taiko drums follwing Mikoshi.
Many sightseers wear Yukata,  a casual summer kimono and the participants wear Happi, a coat imprinted with with a family crest.

You can find many stalls selling toys and food at the shirine precincts and the neighboring streets. One of the traditional stalls is a goldfish scooping game. It is said that his game started around 1810. A player scoops goldfish with a thin paper scooper which can be easily torn. The game is over when it is completely broken.
Takoyaki is the traditional food in a festival. It is originated from Osaka Prefecture, but has been taken a firm as a festival food.  It is fried ball-shaped dumprings with a dice of boiled octopus inside, and brushed with takoyaki sauce and topped with Aonori, green laver powder and Katsuobushi, shavings of dried bonito.
Most of local festivals are hold in summer. If you visit Japan in summer, you may as well call at it!