Monday, October 19, 2009

Nebuta Matsuri, Aomori

It seems like so long ago where a group of 8 of us packed up into D & A's car and drove down to Hakkodate ... it was here we boarded a ferry bound for Aomori. Aomori is just at the top of Japan's mainland, and each year holds Japan's largest lantern festival, the Nebuta Matsuri.

We arrive at Aomori pier and make our way over to the said camp site. There are about 300 bikes parked on the grass, everything from scooters to Triumphs and Harley's. We stake a nice little spot of grass and proceed to set up our tents. The chief bikie comes over just to check on us ... he mainly wants to warn us that if we decide to stay there, it's going to be noisy as they will be partying well into the night. No problem here, we'll just join in.

Nebuta Matsuri

After we are all set up, and freshened up, it's into town we go. We are lucky enough to see the procession of bikes making their way in, so just stop for a while to admire. But then once we make it to the main part of town, some snacks are in order. First up, apple pie. Aomori is famous for apples, garlic and beef, and this apple pie shoes why. Sweet apple still with a little bite encased in a delicious, warm, buttery pastry. We also try the pumpkin variety.

Nebuta Matsuri

Then a delicious little cup of Korean pancake. It's a crisp batter with all bits of spring onion and splashed with a vinegar like sauce. Yum !!

Nebuta Matsuri

And perhaps one of the greatest festival foods, ever, meat on a stick! We first try a bacon kushi;

Nebuta Matsuri

followed by a gyu steak kushi. Chunks of delicious tender Aomori beef nicely salted and grilled, with a blush pink centre.

Nebuta Matsuri

It's not long until the taiko drums and lanterns start ... the whole main part of town is blocked off for the parade, which lasts for about 3 hours, and goes every night for a whole week. The drumming is hypnotizing, and plays for the opening 15 minutes before the procession of floats start rolling down the streets.

Nebuta Matsuri

and the lanterns, wow, the lanterns. They barely scrape under the traffic lights, and span the entire width of the main streets. The intricate detail and amazing colour makes for an out-of-this-world display.

Nebuta Matsuri
Nebuta Matsuri

After all the festivities we are ready for some food !! and beer ...

Nebuta Izakaya

as well as a few fresh grapefruit chu-hi's.

Nebuta Izakaya

First thing to hit the table, torched miso. A smear of top quality local miso is on a wooden spoon, which get's torched right before our eyes...

Nebuta Izakaya

There was a beautiful tofu salad,

Nebuta Izakaya

as well as a local apple salad, with a sweet apple dressing, sausages, pork with tofu, hormone and many more. We finish off with a little tub of complimentary apple jelly. Yum!

Nebuta Izakaya

A fun day was had by all !!

Nebuta Izakaya

We awake ready for another day of matsuri madness. First some wandering around the town, stumbling across things like little Japancakes filled with cabbage, pork, octopus, tonkatsu sauce and egg. mmmm

Nebuta Matsuri

We head off to the other side of town, to hunt out this little food street. It's like early afternoon tapa's ... along with loads of rice wine that was poured from a hollowed out piece of bamboo,

Nebuta Matsuri

We enjoyed fried onions, kari kari cheese-u and a deliciously aromatic saute of mushroom, sausage and garlic.

Nebuta Matsuri

Then it's back on the road, where Kim stubles across a sausage-pop. Yup, a coil of sausage on a stick that looks like a giant candy pop. mmmmm

Nebuta Matsuri

While I feast away on a cup of ice-cream with warm caramel sauce.

Nebuta Matsuri

Before the lanterns and taiko drumming starts again, we make a quick stop for a caffeine fix. Kim goes for an espresso,

Nebuta Matsuri

while I try a delicious spice tea. Like a chai, but packed with even more spice, in a warm, creamy milk. With the caffeine kicking in, we're ready to soldier on .... we find that observing the lanterns in all their beauty for the second time around (and not being to worried about getting photos, as we did that last night) we really appretiated and enjoyed it so much more! Taking in all the detail and beauty of each lantern. There was a lot more dancing on our part this time around, which meant bells were getting thrown at us from all directions ... a sae da a sae da a sae da sa da sa da ............

Nebuta Matsuri
Nebuta Matsuri
Nebuta Matsuri

All pumped and full of energy, we make a quick stop at McDonalds, and all stock up on a Japanese version of the McGang Bang. A cheeseburger with a piece of black pepper shaka shaka chicken. A mighty combo, we're now ready to board our midnigh ferry and start the 7 hour journey back to Hirafu.

Nebuta Matsuri

Incredible weekend, we hope to be back next year !!

3 comments:

Girl Japan: April Marie said...

The camping looked like tons of fun, the food, delish, and the entertainment.. you sure know how to party!

Bring me along next time..

Boots in the Oven said...

Oh my, I don't even know where to start... the lanterns! The Miso spoon! The cakes filled with everything delicious under the sun!

Wow. Thanks for sharing the experience - I'm amazed.

Kat and Kim said...

Girl japan; yeah we get by, next time your up in Hokkaido your more than welcome to come along.

Boots in the oven; it was so much fun. Thank's for the Italy info, blogs to come soon.