Better Posted Late Than Never

I cannot believe I forgot to post this but it must be seen. My beautiful, gorgeous, delicate, perfect in every way hanabira mochi・花びら餅 from Kichi Zoh. New years in Japan is lovely, but I have to admit this is one of my favourite parts. A super soft but chewy piece of burdock root and sweet white bean past is the best way to start the year.

New Years Sweets V2: Year of the Bull

Welcome to the year of the bull! A cute like white bean and yuzu dorayaki bull. 雄牛・おすうし・osu-ushi is ‘bull’ but I really don’t know too many animal names in Japanese and asked for the yuzu cow when I ordered him from Kichi Zōh.

This is the little clay bell I got from Kanōdake shrine on the New Years hike. It will make my wishes come true. So far it’s been a cute start to the year.

New Year Sweets V1: Hanabira Mochi

Hanabira mochi・葩餅 is one of my favourite Japanese sweets, probably because I only get it once a year. It’s so soft and delicate and is just a nice, gentle sweet to start the new year with. When I picked this one up from From Kichizo・吉蔵 they gave me a calendar as a new year present! Just after Christmas I hung my shimekazari on my front door to ward off bad spirits.

Two years ago my friend from Osaka taught me how to make Kansai style ozoni like her mother does every year. It uses white miso and is really creamy and nice. That’s what I made for dinner tonight but maybe I’ll try Fukuoka style ozoni when I use up my kagami mochi on January 11.

初登り・Hatsu-Nobori! New Year’s Hiking in Kanōdake

I was so excited for this hike. New Year’s in Japan is more family focused and quiet instead of countdowns and parties. It’s full of traditions (food) and an important part for a lot of families is hatsumōde, the first shrine visit of the year. Kanōdake叶嶽 (314m) is a beautiful place that holds New Year celebrations; the first kanji means to wish. So by coming here on the first day of the year my 2021 wishes will come true.

Earlier in the week I came as a practice hike. It was 15 degrees and I was wearing my new Canadian under layers that I got from my parents for Christmas and almost died in the heat.

On the way up to the top Kanōdake, the where the shrine of the same name is, as well as these beautiful tori gates, I’ve never seen one this periwinkle colour. I had to giggle at “Click here for the summit” signs posted throughout. In the Japanese version, you don’t have to click.

View from the top, a little chestnut in the wild and some beautiful stairs.

This is from the top of neighbouring Takasuyama・高祖山 (416m). A little wooden charm that you can keep as a souvenir and write the date on.

Can’t go to Itoshima without getting a taiyaki! This one is sweet potato paste from Nippon Ichi and I go there every time I’m in Imajuku.

Then I came back on January 1st with a small group. We got a new year surprise and there was a little more snow than I anticipated.

At the shrine the were giving out sake and sweets with ・wish imprinted on the side. We prayed and made our wishes and at Takasuzan there were special new wooden charms.

I’m so happy I got to go hiking with them today and that this year is over.  けましておめでとうございます!

And of course, here is the path I took on Yamap. Hope this is a lovely year for everyone and all your wishes come true!

New Year’s Eve snackies

I got these from Dazaifu Baien while I was in Dazaifu last week. This little eggy, dried sweet is called Yorotsuyo・よろつよ and it is sort of like a meringue but with gelatin added in. The texture and mix of salty/sweet is really nice. I can’t think of anything I’ve had just like it. I was in Yanagawa for a couple days and I found a local pottery shop and got a shiny new matcha bowl. The shop owner was very sweet and gave me this little charm as a gift. Ready for the year of the ox to begin, tomorrow!

For the first day of 2021 and I’ll be hiking in Kanoudake. I cannot wait for the new years sweets to begin. And, like everyone else alive on earth, for this awful year to be over. I will eat the traditional end of year toshi-koshi soba tonight and osechi tomorrow after hiking.