A Sweet Mushroom

My heart skipped a beat when I saw this at Kichi-Zoh today. For one reason, it’s an adorable forest mushroom with white mean paste and whole adzuki beans. Two, this was actually the first wagashi I tried in Fukuoka last year, before I started writing in here. I’m coming up on a year in Fukuoka, which is unbelievable, but not more so than realizing you measure the passing of time in seasonal sweets.

Hiking in Munakata・宗像市: Mt. Yugawa・湯川山 (471m) Edition

The first sunny weekend in August! Here we go, off to the north where I read about a hike that ends at a beach. Here is the first mini mountain range I will climb, its only about 300m high. On the way up I pass through temples and chestnuts.

I was a little worried it would be too hot but it was much, much cooler once I got up a bit. Unsurprisingly, the path was very beautiful and not too bad after the rain we’ve had.

There’s walking sticks, a tiny river and some awfully cute views from the top of Mt. Yugawa・湯川山! I was hoping for a few more views but maybe I need to explore around more.

On the way down I passed though some farms and abandoned cafes. No one reading this will be shocked, but I also found an amazing sweets shop on the way to the shrine at the peak of the cape. The picture taken from the top of the stairs shows the mountain I just came down from.

This is the funniest structure I have ever seen in Japan. Well, I’m happy someone built it so I could see the ocean. I was almost 6 hours into the hike, mid-day at 35 degrees and I was a little tired and evidently too tired to take a single photo of the ocean from up there!

But don’t worry, here’s the snack I got: chilled strawberry warabi mochi. It was the best thing I have ever eaten in my life (it was the first cool thing I had consumed in many hours).

Finally! I made it to the beach. For the first time this summer I kicked off my shoes and went swimming in the ocean. Hard to beat. When I finally got out and made my way over to the bus I met these funny veggies sun-bathing on the street. I might come back next weekend, it was a lovely, easy hike with the perfect ending (and snacks).

And of course, here is my course on Yamap!

Hiking in Kitakyushu: Hiraodai・平尾台 Edition

There are a few summer holidays in July so a few friends and I escaped north of the city to Kitakyushu. Just east of there is a place I’ve had my eye on for ages: Hiraodai. It isn’t so mountainous but is more gorgeous rolling green hills and beautiful views. This group is a big on sunrises so we started our day around 3:30am and were not disappointed. I could not get enough of the morning light.

It was just like out of a dream. On the way to the summit it was a little cloudy but cleared up beautifully later in the hike.

Sometimes (every time) sunrise hikes are a bit challenging but they are so worth it. I wouldn’t be supr keen to try an 8 hour hike on so little sleep but its a great time to do smaller, less physical hikes; especially in the summer heat.

The grass was really up to my waist at some points! It was a lot of fun to go around and play around in.

Believe it or not, I did manage to find some sweets. Matcha kakigōri・かき氷 and anmitsu・あんみつ at a really old school style shop and they were beyond heaven.

Here is my hike on Yamap!

Leaving the House: Bread Edition

A little different from my usual vibe, but a wonderful place I really enjoy going to is Bread & Cafe. It’s a great place to bring your laptop and work but even better for bread and design.

This thick sliced toast with textured red bean paste and a healthy pad of butter is a classic Nagoya snack and is one of my all time favourite foods. The bread, called shoku pan・食パン was fluffy and perfect and the azuki beans were jammy and rich. Impossible not to love it.

A Spool to Tie Fates

This little sweet from Kichi Zoh・吉蔵 is in the style of a Shigoto Musubi Omamori・仕事結びお守り which is shaped like a spool of thread. Omamori, or amulets can be bought at almost any shrine. Here are some examples of amulets you can buy in Dazaifu, where I often go hiking.

The Shigoto Musubi Omamori is a little spool of thread and the color of the thread and the manner that its knotted has different meanings. Overall, they help you through your work, daily tasks and livelihood. I have only seen them in Fukuoka, and I think they are quite popular from Kamado shrine in Dazaifu but I could be mistaken.

Either way is was a lovely little sweet! It definitely helped with my work tasks today.

Hakata Minazuki・Classic Edition

I got this classic version of a Hakata minazuki from Takoshōgetsu・鮹松月, the name literally translates to ‘Octopus Tree Moon’. It’s located in the city centre on the same old street I got the matcha minazuki from, the little wet market street with little shops. Before I lived here when I came to Fukuoka to visit I actually bought my New Years (Kagami) mochi from them. They do all of the classics very well and I will definitely come back to try their namagashi, it looked so beautiful.

Hiking in Tachibanayama・立花山: Sunrise Edition

There’s a first time for everything, and today was the day I woke up at 3:00am to go chase the sunrise. A few of us avid hikers drove up and made the quick hike up. Full disclosure! Most of these are my incredibly talented friend’s pictures from his amazing camera and the boring unedited ones are mine.

The sun rises very early in the summer so it was a little brighter than we planned on the way up, but incredibly beautiful.

Even at such a low elevation we were above the clouds, which in this sunrise pic look like the ocean I think.

I’ve been to this area a few times, it’s a pretty popular hike because if it’s accessibility and being beginner-friendly. It was really nice to have the place to ourselves.

It was such a nice start to the day and I would definitely go on another sunrise trek again.

As always, here is my hike on Yamap!

Hakata Minazuki Tour Continues・Red Bean Triangle

A more classic take on Hakata Minazuki・博多水無月 from Flower Moon・花月堂, a truly beautiful shop that I stopped by for the first time. That’s one of my favourite parts (top fav is the sweets) about finding all the minazuki in the city, it gives me a great reason to explore new areas of the city and new sweet shops.

This one is wrapped so perfectly with a bamboo leaf and is adzuki flavoured with tiny little beans scattered throughout. Perfect on a hot day like today! Like I mentioned before, this is traditionally eaten to ward off evil spirits and I am happy to contribute by eating as many as I can.

Happy Wagashi Day! (AKA Christmas in June)

What a great day! This holiday goes all the way back to 848!! Rabbit Moon・兎月 was celebrating by giving out these super fun bags to eager customers. I love it! I celebrated my going to Rabbit Moon, the first sweet place I came to in Fukuoka and one of the reasons I started this blog. I got the seasonal namagashi, a beautiful intricate piece with purple sweet potato paste. A tradition I can get behind.

As a lovely piece explains:

It started in the year of 848 in the Heian period when plague was spreading throughout Japan. With the hope that this disease would stop and everybody would live healthily and happily, the Emperor Ninmyō changed the era to Kashō and prayed to the God with an offering of sixteen Japanese sweets. It was on the 16th of June and the number of the sweet offering was associated with the date. Since then this day became the Wagashi Day and people ate Japanese sweets and wished a happy life. This custom carried on until the Edo period.

Sakura Junction

I might have gotten a few other pieces that I can enjoy throughout the week. Happy wagashi day, I hope everyone can take a little sweets break today, it’s tradition!

Trip to Tugi

Welcome to one of my favourite shops in Fukuoka, Tugi! It’s so beautiful and their innovation equally matched by the deliciousness of their sweets. They have monthly specials and I always look forward to checking out their new items. Here is the daily selection of ohagi (sweet rice and bean paste), namagashi (bean paste, flour, sugar sweets) mushigashi (steamed sweets) and monaka (rice wafer and bean paste).

I don’t usually have drinks that aren’t plain coffee or tea but if I see something unusual I can’t help myself. Tugi has あんこソーダ・anko soda, or read bean soda! It’s smooth red bean paste with simple syrup and a splash of lemon topped with soda. It was so good! Definitely happy I tried it.

I took my sweets home and sat down to my matcha set. I got one of the monthly specials, black sugar walnut mochi・黒糖胡桃餅 made with black rice. Really everything they do is incredible, this one was no exception.