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

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Today I bring to the table The Mochi Diaries Chapter 7 – Ninja (Kusa) Dango 草餅

As a foreword this mochi doesn’t actually have anything to do with ninja, in fact rather than mochi todays review is on kusa dango 草団子 (grass dango). Dango whilst being almost identical to mochi is a separate type of wagashi, generally speaking the difference is that mochi is made by pounding glutinous rice into a dough where as dango is made by adding water to mochiko 餅粉 (glutinous rice flour) and boiling or grilling the resulting dough.

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Now the reason I suspect for the whole ninja packaging is due to the fact that kusa 草 the kanji for grass, though in modern Japanese it is now an archaic reading 草 was once  could be read to mean ‘ninja’, so it’s essentially a pun.

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Unlike any mochi 餅 or dango 団子 I have reviewed thus far, as opposed to the usual mochi outer layer filled with a sweet centre (usually azuki あずき) this kusa dango lies on a bed of anko 餡こ (sweetened red bean paste).

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Rather than just popping them in your mouth, a small a small spoon is provided to scoop the dango up with a little anko on the side.
Fair nomnomnom 3.5/5

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Now as a little bonus, if you have never seen one of these before its a kakigoori かき氷 (shaved ice) machine. During the summer I became somewhat addicted to these delicious treats as they are a great way to cool down. Popular matsuri 祭 (festival) snacks, they come in a wide array of flavours.

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Using the kusa dango I decided to make the traditional ujikintoki kakigori which is topped with sweetened red bean paste, dango and often capped with condensed milk.

Want to read more Mochi Diaries Posts?

The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 6 – Goma Yatsuhashi 胡麻 八つ橋

<———– Last

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

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Nunobiki Herb Garden 布引ハーブ園 & Nunobiki Falls 布引の滝

20121016-午後031214.jpgA couple weeks ago towards the end of summer my good friend Matcha-san (a fellow Melbournian) and I spent a day exploring Nunobiki Herb Garden 布引ハーブ園 and the Nunobiki no Taki 布引の滝 (Nunobiki Falls) next door for a chill and relaxing Friday adventure. Situated a couple minutes walk from Shin-Kobe station (the stop the Shinkansen 新幹線 (Bullet Train) passes through) it’s insane that such beauty and wilderness exists literally on our doorstep here in Kobe.

The Nunobiki herb garden sits on the side of Mt Rokko, consisting of a large café and rest house at its peak, further down a sizable greenhouse and a long path lined with every herb imaginable. The easiest way to reach the peak by taking the Shin-Kōbe Ropeway 新神戸ロープウェー (colloquial known as the Kōbe Yume-Fūsen 神戸夢風船 (Kobe Dream Balloon)) a 1.5km cable car for a brisk 10 minute trip to the top of the mountain then walk the casual slopes down. In my opinion view of Kobe granted from the peak of the Herb Garden is far superior to that of Port Tower and I highly recommend a day up there. At 700¥ all the way up it was certainly not expensive also!

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The cable car entrance point.

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The view of Kobe on the way up was fair amazing.

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Matcha and I on the way up.

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Sample of steel cable that supports the cars.

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A model of the Herb Garden

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Sights along the walk back down.

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Here are a couple photos of the views from Nunobiki Herb Garden,

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After a relaxing morning casually strolling around the gardens we decided to head off to see the Nunobiki Waterfalls which is considered to be one of Japan’s one of the greatest divine falls alongside Kegon Falls and Nachi Falls.

Much to my amusement I forced Lady Matcha to go bushwacking (its an australian term) to the nearby waterfalls next door, a task she was not at all dressed to embark on!

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In the end it was totally all worth it as quite clearly Nunobiki Waterfalls are a little bit amazing ❤

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A couple funny little signs I spotted along the way.

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To add to the awesomeness of this place there is also a little traditional Japanese restaurant on the top of the mountain overlooking said waterfalls.
We ended up talking to the little old obaa- chan that runs the place for a good half hour! She’s meccha sweet!

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Here are some photos of the menu for the place which specializes in ramen, the item labled おすすめ (recommendation) is their specialty Nunobiki Ramen 布引ラメン (Thread-pulling Ramen) which I tried.

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After devouring this bowl whist looking out at an amazing view it too has become my おすすめ and at 500円 why not ^_^

Australian Cultural Festival Board

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With today being the eve of the Bunkasai 文化祭 (Cultural Festival) at my base JHS, I have been hard at work all week creating an Australian cultural booth, this is my sign to point visitors in the right direction tomorrow 😀

Did I really need to colour in the entire thing blue……

Well lets just say there are 2 ways to do things, the right way and the Tako way!

500¥ Coin Collection + Luffy

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I guess Luffy finally found One Piece!!!

Low and behold my 500¥ coin collection, every day since I arrived in Japan I have tried I save one, today is my 142nd day and I have accumulated as many ^_^

That’s about 7万 in yen or almost 1000$, not to shabby if i say so myself!

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.

The Scary Door

You are entering the vicinity of an area adjacent to a location. The kind of place where there might be a monster, or some kind of weird mirror. These are just examples; it could also be something much better. Prepare to enter: The Scary Door.

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With Halloween approaching I decided to switch the front door of my apartment from ‘Pug Door’ to ‘(Spooky) Pug Door’. We don’t celebrate Halloween down under so I thought I might jump on the bandwagon now that I live in the orient, oh how I love Daiso (^ω^)

Insanely Sized Japanese Fruit

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Whilst shopping at my favorite local farmers market Megumi no Sato 恵みの郷 (meaning Blessed Village) last night I came across these insanely sized nashi 梨 (Japanese Pears).
The smaller ones pictured were already what I would consider large but the monsters were what really caught my attention.
These things were the size of rockmelons and at 650円 (about $8) a piece I presume they are meant to be shared.
And no they aren’t giant irradiated mutated fruit from Fukushima 福島県, infact they came from Kagoshima Prefecture 鹿児島県 in Kyushu.

Oh Japan you never cease to amaze and entertain me everywhere I look.

Daniels Australian Cookbook

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This Saturday is the Bunkasai 文化祭 (Cultural Festival) at my Chuugakko 中学校 (Junior Highschool) and returning from a week of leave I found myself being asked to plan an Australian culture table with in my free time over the next few days.

Here is today’s creation, Australian cookbooks!!! Featuring the recipes to make Anzac Biscuits, Lamingtons, Sausage Rolls, Australian Toffee and Fairy Bread!
I have printed enough to make 300booklets……… Sigh 50 down, a plethora of folding to go.

Sometimes I have deeply regret seemingly ‘amazing ideas’ without considering the work required to bring them to fruition….
(−_−;)

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A Night In A Shibuya Internet Cafè

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Saturday evening I found myself in Shibuya without a room for the night. The last night of my trip I had foolishly not got round to booking a hotel, hoping to simply walk up to one on the day. My presumption that there would be rooms available in one of the most densely populated areas in the world was far from accurate.

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And so midnight rolled around, defeated I looked to the next best thing…. A mangakiss (Japanese internet cafe).
These establishments typically offer customers a small room with a comfortable chair, computer with Internet connection, gaming devices, movies and access to a vast manga library.
Alongside this other amenities include a communal shower, luggage storage and free all you can drink vending machines.

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I decided upon one of the larger venues Gran Cyber Cafe B@gus, even checking in at the wee hours of the morning they had space at a fairly reasonable rate of 2000円 for a 9 hour stay.

To be honest it wasn’t what I would consider the most comfortable night sleep as the chair doesn’t exactly go all the way back. Not exactly sure if I would be up for it again, but for a desperate lad on the streets of Shibuya it did just fine!

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This is the entrance to Gran Cyber Cafe B@gus.

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Free vending machines

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Part of the manga library

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Tokyo Skytree Adventures!

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Today I’m at Tokyo Skytree, freaking epic!!!
Although similarly so were the lines, arriving at 10:30am we were given passes that would allow us to join the queue at 1:00pm, after returning from a brief trip to Asakusa it was another hour before we could buy tickets to go up!

That said the view from 450m was well worth the wait, I’v been up Kobe’s Port Tower, Kyoto Tower and Tokyo Tower but nothing compared to Tokyo Sky Tree!

At 2000¥ for the 350m viewing platform it was a little pricy compared to visiting viewing platforms at many other towers.

We decided to also head up to the 450m viewing platform, although hesitant at first in my opinion the extra 1000¥ was a fair price to scale the worlds second tallest structure!

All in all a fantastic experience!
(^∇^)

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