The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 15 September 2006


As mentioned before, the summer season is matsuri season, and it truly was a fantastic way to start a long-term stay in Japan. A 2nd year JET even said that matsuris are one of the main reasons why she recontracted for a second year. Lots of yummy food and amazing displays of community events usually involving carrying or pushing the kirikos (vertical rectangular lantern) or niwakais (floats). If you think about it, the matsuris are really a form of religious event (although I think the Japanese people just like another reason to party and drink hard - and boy do they drink!). Individual towns and communities hold their own matsuris which is the reason why we had the opportunity to attend so many.

Fellow JETs who are located closer to a big city said that the festivals they've experienced are not as spectacular as the ones we've been to. Heck, even the Japanese girlfriend of a fellow JET who is from Osaka said that she has never experienced matsuris like the ones she went to with us. I guess this is what they mean when they say that you'll get more of the Japanese experience out in inaka away from the cities.

Did I mention lots of yummy food? I kid you not - the hosts go all out as they display their wealth to guests (albeit subtly) with the variety and quantity of food (and expensive fruits). My favourite part? Eating the sashimi. A HUGE variety of sashimi - snails, prawns, squid, octopus, a million different types of fish - the list goes on. So delicious. My favourite type of sashimi? The prawns - raw, fresh prawns are quite sweet and have a deliciously tender taste. That's the wonderful benefit of living in the Noto where tasty seafood are freshly available in abundance. It is a paradise for a foodie who loves her seafood!

Prawn sashimi:

Usually there will be platters of food such as sushi, seafood, various yummy finger foods as well as our own individual servings of sashimi, chawan mushi (an egg 'custard' - basically it is egg and dashi steamed with various ingredients such as chicken, gingko fruits and mushrooms - very delicious and similar to one of my dad's steamed egg and minced pork dish) and many other yummies. To give everyone a rough idea of the type of food, the following photos were taken at some of the places we went to - all thanks to my fellow JETs' supervisor who has a lot of contacts and he kindly drove us all to experience these feasts (some nights we visited up to three houses! Talk about getting stuffed!). A lighted lamp outside a residence during a matsuri is an indication that the house has a feast prepared and is open to visitors.

Sannami Matsuri

Remember the Australian owner of a bakery about 5mins drive from our place? His family opened their house during their community's matsuri last month. This feast was a little less traditional and there was even pizza at the table!

Our group (Ben, the bakery owner, is to the far left on the back row):

Incredibly, we found out that Ben's (that's the Australian guy) place was featured in a manga (Japanese comic).

The manga:

The page featuring the place:

Ben's front door, as featured (compare with second panel on left page in the photo above):

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