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Displaying items by tag: travel Japan

Monday, 03 May 2010

In Search of Wasabi

What is that pale green stuff coming out of tubes or situated in tiny mounds next to sashimi?  It’s got as much to do with real wasabi as going to a tanning salon has to do with a day at the beach.  Still, you get the point from dabbing raw fish into it— it accentuates the flavors, provides contrast with texture, and gives hints of bitterness that play with the sweetness of the sashimi. But the wasabi we get here is horseradish dyed green.  Horseradish has plenty of flavor and tastes good, but it’s not wasabi. 

Published in in good taste

Hiwatari Matsuri, or Fire Walking Festival is held at Mount Takao, Japan.  The event is dedicated to the Tengu, or mountain spirit and is for purification and renewal.  Monks light a massive bonfire and then douse it with water until the flames are quelled.  They then throw people's prayers, which are written on wood tablets, into the fire.  Just before the monk's cross the fire, they flagellate themselves with bamboo in boiling water.  Then, two by two the monks cross the burning hot coals.  To finish the festival, all the onlookers line up and walk the coals, now substantially cooler, and receive a blessing from the head monks.  With a final prayer to the mountain spirits, the monks head back into the mountains from which they came.

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