The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 8 – Kuri Yatsuhashi 栗八つ橋

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Yes today I bring to you yet another yatsuhashi instalment of The Mochi Diaries, and so this is Chapter 8 – Kuri Yatsuhashi 栗八つ橋.

The Kuri 栗 (chestnut) flavour is a popular mochi filling at this time of year as we are half way through Aki 秋(autumn).

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Of corse there is to be an autumn variation of yatsuhashi and I came across this box at my favourite omiyage shop in Osaka a few weeks ago.

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I’v tried many kuri flavored mochi in the past so I went in pretty much knowing exactly what to expect, however there is the addition of the awesome texture of the yatsuhashi wrappings that always brings the mochi noming experience up to the next level.

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This aside I think I can safely say that these are my least favourite of the yatsuhashi flavours I have tried thus far.
I find the the Japanese autumn flavours to be on the bland side of things, having a large emphasis on starchy vegetables such as Kabocha 南瓜 (Pumpkin), Kuri 栗 (Chestnuts) and Satsumaimo さつま芋 (Sweet Potato). This really shined through with these kuri yatsuhashi, filled with the vaguely sweet kuri paste which I feel doesn’t compliment the outer mochi all that amazingly.
Regardless I still ate them all hungrily however in the future I think I’d prefer to stick with the more traditional cinnamon variety.
3/5

Want to read more Mochi Diaries Posts?

The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 7 – Ninja (Kusa) Dango 草餅

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 The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 9 – Mochitsuki Special Edition 餅搗き増刊

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What The Hell Is Thanksgiving?

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Ok so I’m an Australian, we don’t tend to really get into most European holidays let alone American ones.
So my knowlage of Thanksgiving is that it’s got something to do with Indians, turkey and maybe candy corn……
Now I’d heard that Japanese people tend to assume all gaijin are American but had yet to experience it before today.

Conversation 10 minutes before class with ES sensei who speaks very little English.
OTE: Daniel Sensei, today Thanksgiving yes.
Me: Yeah I guess, but…..
OTE: (cutting me off? Today class change Thanksgiving shoukai OK?
Me: But I’m Australian not American and I have a lesson planned based on this weeks grammar point.
OTE: Ahhhh sou desu, Australia Thanksgiving class ok. Byebye. (Runs out of the staff room)

FML (−_−;)

二十四節季 Nijushi Sekki

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This morning I was rudely awoken in the wee hours by whining winds. Grumpily I dragged myself out of bed and looked over to my calendar, glancing the date to be October 23.
A little note Soukou 霜降 sat in the box meaning ‘descent of frost’ thinking of the storm raging outside my window I chuckled to myself and though ‘yeah sounds about right’.

Unlike much of Asia the Gregorian calendar has been in use in Japan since 1873 when it superseded the Chinese lunisolar calendar which had been in place for almost 1200 years.

The Chinese calendar divided one solar year into twenty-four points signifying significant celestial events such as solstices, equinoxes and the beginning of the seasons or natural phenomenon. In Japanese these are referred to as Nijushi Sekki 二十四節季 and are still retain some importance in modern society.

The Nijushi Sekki or seasonal days are as follows:

Risshun (立春): February 4—Beginning of spring

Usui (雨水): February 18—Rain water

Keichitsu (啓蟄): March 5—Awakening of Insects (from hibernation)

Shunbun (春分): March 20—Vernal equinox, middle of spring

Seimei (清明): April 4—Clear and bright (skies)

Kokuu (穀雨): April 20—Grain rain

Rikka (立夏): May 5—Beginning of summer

Shōman (小満): May 21—Grain Fills

Bōshu (芒種): June 5—Grain in Ear

Geshi (夏至): June 21—Summer Solstice, middle of summer

Shōsho (小暑): July 7—Little Heat

Taisho (大暑): July 23—Great Heat

Risshū (立秋): August 7—Beginning of Autumn

Shosho (処暑): August 23—End of Heat

Hakuro (白露): September 7—Descent of White Dew

Shūbun (秋分): September 23—Autumnal Equinox, middle of Autumn

Kanro (寒露): October 8—Cold Dew

Sōkō (霜降): October 23—Descent of Frost

Rittō (立冬): November 7—Beginning of winter

Shōsetsu (小雪): November 22—Little Snow

Taisetsu (大雪): December 7—Great Snow

Tōji (冬至): December 22—Winter Solstice, middle of Winter

Shōkan (小寒): January 5— Little Cold

Daikan (大寒): January 20—Great Cold

Many zassetsu days occur in multiple seasons:

Setsubun (節分) prefers to the day before each season, or the eves of Risshun 立春 (Spring), Rikka 立夏(Summer), Risshuu 立秋 (Autumn), and Rittou 立冬 (Winter). However it is most commonly attributed the day before the first day of spring (risshun). Setsubun falls on the 3rd or the 4th of February on the calendar today.

Doyō (土用) refers to the 18 days before each season, especially the one before fall which is known as the hottest period of a year.

Higan (彼岸) is the seven middle days of spring and autumn, with Shunbun at the middle of the seven days for spring, Shūbun for fall.

Shanichi (社日) is the Tsuchinoe (戊?) day closest to Shunbun (middle of spring) or Shūbun (middle of fall), which can be as much as −5 to +4 days away from Shunbun/Shūbun.

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Rainy Day Licorice Pug Tea

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During the parentals visit to Japan last week Mother gifted me a huge pouch of my favorite licorice tea and bought me this amazing pug tea set on the streets of Gion!

After learning the true meaning of the phrase びしょびしょ (soaked through) during my bike ride on the way home from school, this amazing tea was the perfect remedy for my chattering teeth.

Kaki 柿 (^∇^)

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So Aki 秋 (Autumn) is finally upon us and with it a plethora of new fruits and vegetables become available in Japan.
The one I have been looking forward to since I discovered they were popular here are Kaki 柿 (persimmons).

Pretty much my favourite, fruit I grew up eating 3 or 4 of these every day at the end of every summer back in Australia.
Not that they were all that popular back home, however being of italian decent my grandfather has a passion for growing things, having 2 large trees which would shower us in them each year!!
Oddly enough in Italian イタリア語 persimmons go by the same name as they do in Japanese which is well Kaki!

Slicing one of these up really brought back some fond memories for me of summers growing up in Melbourne and exactly what I have to come home to 🙂

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The only real detractor I could attribute to the Japanese version of these orange gems would be that they ate over packaged (like all Japanese fruit) to the teeth, god back home we would just chuck a couple dozen in a bag! Also being priced at around 130-150¥ each, they are much cheaper than some apples (think 300¥ a piece), however still totally outside of my regular budget, alas they make for a nice treat to remind me of home.
(*^◯^*)

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Back to School 学校に戻る(−_−;)

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So it’s becoming quite apparent that the seasons are changing and natsuyasumi 夏休 (summer holidays) is nothing more than a fleeting memory.
I intend to write a post about the onset of Aki 秋 (Autumn) in the near future, as Japan is a country that is overly enthusiastic about embracing the seasons, alas it’s not just the temperature that is subtly changing.

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This week I was thrust back into the routine of the daily grind quite rudely I might add as classes began to pick up again. Twas only a week or two ago thar I was ‘enjoying the summer’, knocking back beers and exploring Kansai on the daily. This week however I am teaching 5 days straight of 4 classes a day at both my shougakko’s and chuugakko, shit hasn’t been this hectic since I arrived in Japan!

To make matters worse all my schools are currently training for their taiikusai 体育祭 (sports festival) so what little free time I manage to muster is spent outside yelling 頑張って at the kids!

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The icing on the cake is I have been reunited with my arch nemesis…….. Kyuushoku 給食 (primary school lunch). I swear it will be the death of me!!

I know I complained about the perpetual 34degree days and the boredom of being the only staff alongside kyoto-sensei at the time, but what I would do to go back to having a chill stress-free schedule now.

To be honest its not as if the temperature has plummeted all that much in the last month, the most notable difference is that I can now sleep without and aircon on all night and just a fan instead. Furthermore I get the feeling that although the midday heat feel is all to similar to that of the summer, rather than the temperature wavering 3-4degrees at night it is actually quite cool in the mornings and evenings.

But hey at least I can ride my bike to school now without arriving looking like I just stepped out of a sauna, a look I wore well throughout the warmer months Σ( ̄。 ̄ノ)ノ