Another sunny weekend! Rainy season is no problem if this pattern keeps up. A few people had told me about this very beautiful, mini hike in Itoshima that was a little windy so I was saving it for warmer weather. Itoshima is a bit of a beach town and it was great to explore around.
There are near panoramic view going most of the way up the mountain. Every 3 feet I stopped to take pictures, it’s really a prefect quick hike.
The terrain is unlike anything like I’ve seen in Fukuoka, you can see different rock sediment and its nearly all exposed rock. Most other places have more tree cover or are much softer earth.
These are all 3 different little beaches I popped into. Everything is so close and compact around here so it’s easy to see a lot.
Of course it wouldn’t be a hike without roadside produce! After I got off the course I waslked past some beaches and made my way over to the big rock/mini mountain. I think this is one of the most popular areas in Itoshima, every time I come to Itoshima with people we wind up here. I made my way to the other side of the rock to have lunch.
Maybe unsurprisingly I brought a sweet from Kichi Zoh with me. This one is special for June. It’s called minazuki・水無月 which is the name for June in the old Japanese calendar, before the Gregorian calendar was introduced to Japan. It literally means ‘month with no water’ which is hard to believe because June is rainy season. Interesting Japanese language tidbit, the 無・na typically means: no, none, without. However in old times it was also a possessive particle, so means the month full of water! Learning Japanese is a trip.
Anyway! The sweet minazuki is red bean on jellied mochi and was super good! I think I see more in my future this month.
I believe this delicate blue flowers are a kind of Queen Anne’s Lace. The little pink one is a peony・bōtan・牡丹 from Kichi Zoh. The matcha is from a shop nearby using matcha leaves from Yame・八女, a city just south of Fukuoka. It has a really nice balance and flavour, but I think the last one I just finished is still my favourite! Always fun to try new ones.
A mini bouquet of carnations with a little carnation namagashi! I think they are just perfect beside each other. This one is from Suzukake・鈴懸. Carnations are always a bit special to me because that is the street name of where I grew up. A perfect little piece of the day to reflect and remember.
I’m loving my beautiful new bowl so much. I actually got this vase from the same shop, they look so cute together! This is sweet is coarse red bean paste wrapped in mochi, dusted with matcha from Rabbit Moon・兎月. Of course, it was amazing!
It was uncharacteristically sunny and warm on Valentine’s Day so we got to sit on a little rooftop patio to enjoy little pink sweets. I went to Kichi-Zoh because I knew they would have the heart sweet, but when I saw the set I there was no way not to get it. In Japan on Valentine’s Day women give chocolate to their partners, crushes (本命チョコ・honmei choco・true feeling chocolate), male coworkers (義理チョコ・giri choco・obligation chocolate) and friends (友チョコ・tomo choco・friend chocolate). On March 14th men will give chocolate to their romantic partner or crush. It can be quite an expensive day for women having to buy obligation chocolate for every an in the office but with all the remote working that seems to have changed.
Back to the sweets! I did give my honmei choco but of course did not stop there. Kichi-Zoh had the pink rose with white bean in the center, a white heart with pink & white bean paste, and a white bean paste with black bean ‘snow-topped mountain’ (left plate) and also plum jelly and soba flour yōkan (right plate). They were perfect and I loved them. I’m eagerly awaiting candy sales in the week to come.
The sky could be falling, the four horsemen riding in, and I could still count on Rabbit Moon・兎月 to make me smile ear to ear. I went in to get a few things and one of the women started to chat me up. Their patience with my bad Japanese is truly saint-like, and is helping me improve a lot. They gave me this sliced black-bean mochi as a little gift, as they were the ends of the roll. It’s just so kind! I was so happy and appreciative to get it. I put them under my grill for a few minutes and they puffed up beautifully into tasty, chewy perfection.
I couldn’t resist having a double-whammy sweet set. This blossom namagashi is so beautiful and was equally delicious. I know it seems silly, but the kindness of the people at the shop and taking a few minutes out of the day to enjoy their sweets is something I am so grateful for.