January: Closing Snacks

My friend who knows me very well got me this Japanese sweets calendar and it usually stays in my office so I can glance at it and dream of sweets. I know I’ve had taiyaki (or taimochi) a couple times but I couldn’t help closing out January with its monthly featured snack. This is another montai・モンタイ from Ropponpon・ろっぽんぽん nearby. It’s not really a traditional one, the dough is made of cinnamon and mochi flour, so it is super chewy and soft and delicious.

Tai-Mochi Tuesday

ろっぽんぽん・Ropponpon is a super (super) tiny little shop in the neighbourhood. I have been there a couple times but today I finally got the snack I’ve been waiting for. They are famous for their taiyaki・たい焼 and tai-mochi・たいもち, which is their specialty, and the first time I’ve seen or heard of it! You can find taiyaki everywhere, usually with red bean paste, custard, white bean, or maybe some fun flavour in a crispy, fish-shaped waffle/cake body. Tai is a kind of fish, but this snack is fishy in form only!

But tai-mochi, replaces the cake with my beloved mochi. And this one is swimming is a bed of kinako! Kinako is sweet, toasted soy bean flour. Sounds weird but is hugely popular and very delicious, definitely in my top 5 favourite Japanese sweets flavours.

The red bean paste and soft, white mochi start to peek through the kinako. It was still warm! Not hard to guess why this place is so popular, especially this item! I loved it and can’t wait to go back.

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!