| fieldwork || observations || week 2 ||

07|09|2011 § Leave a comment

|| observations || week 2 ||

::  Gikoku jinja furiimaaketto 護国神社でのフリーマーケット ::
180911 | 福岡

Gokoku’s Shrine Flea Market was full of delightful and beautiful old (or at least old looking) objects of all types and colours. This flea market only takes place once per month, but gathers the most exquisite pieces of design and crafts.

Though it has many food stalls and seating places, many people chose to make the most of the Shrine’s grounds and set underneath a tree or at the edge of the stairs.


i* Seating at a low level, almost as low as the ground, a woman is having food from one of the stalls.


i** Making the most of the edge around a large tree, two friends eat some food also bought from one of the stalls.


i*** A father has set up a little picnic environment for his child to play and eat making the most of the edge around a large tree.

::  Ohagi no ryouri kyoushitsu  おはぎの料理教室 ::
170911 | 福岡

i* Ohagi inside handmade bamboo baskets

i** Hiru gohan 昼ご飯 > lunch

To fully experience Japanese food, I had the pleasure of taking a cooking class with Keiko Morimitsu where we learned how to make ohagi おはぎ, Autumn little rice and red beans paste Japanese sweets (wagashi 和菓子).

We arrived at Bivi, a shopping centre specialized in Home Decoration, where the class was taking place. A brand new fully equipped Miele kitchen was the setting for my first Japanese cooking class. Passers by could look through and observe what we were doing.

Although it was almost impossible to understand what was being said throughout the class, I observed each step on how to make ohagi おはぎ and wish Yukako’s (from Konya2023) help I followed all the recipes that were cooked over a 5 hours’ class on Japanese wholesome cooking.

Keiko is a young Japanese chef who specializes in wholes grain food so the meal we prepared (where ohagi  おはぎ was simply the dessert) was not only a truly wonderful visual experience of colour combinations and arrangements, but a true delight for any food lover, as each small dish complemented the other.

Yukako has kindly translated all the recipes into English and each step of the class can be followed on a special post || observations || week 2 ||  Ohagi no ryouri kyoushitsu  おはぎの料理教室 ||.

Japanese cooking is not only about the food, but also about the process of cooking, presenting and eating each specific dish.

I have been reading about contemporary Japanese meals where any main meal ichijusansai 一汁三菜consists of rice (with the bowl always placed on the left handside as one holds it up and eats with the chopsticks on the right hand side), soup (normally miso), three dishes and pickles. The three dishes include a main dish of fish or meat, a second dish of vegetables and a third dish of grains, such as beans. Food changes according to the season (shun).

[Table for 100’s] : おはぎの料理教室

i*** Cooking class students 調理クラスの生徒

:: Hojoya Matsuri ::
140911 | 福岡

Hojoya is a festival held in Hakata every Autumn (end of Summer) to thank for the blessings of nature. It originates from the teachings of the kami Hachiman, and has been happening every year for the past 1,000 years. This year it was held between September 12th and the 18th at Hakozaki-gu shrine.

Once we got off the tube station we could already start smelling the odours of all different types of food that filled most of the 700 stalls that lined up towards to the shrine.

The mixture of colour and smell would captivate anyone skeptic about how great these types of festivals can be. It was incredible to see the masses of people getting out and into the tube station who travelled from different parts of Fukuoka to experience what can be considered a typical ‘Japanese Festival Experience’.

i* Ginger stall ジンジャーの出店> There were plenty of stalls selling ginger roots still with the leaves.

i** Takoyaki  たこ焼き( ball-shaped Japanese dumplings filled with diced or whole baby octopus, tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion) are originally from Osaka, but became a common dish sold in street stalls and fairs. The whole process of turning the batter around the iron pans specially produced for Takoyaki is remarkable. The agility of the cook makes the experience of watching the preparation of takoyaki similar to watching a circus juggler moving the balls up in the air.

i***  The chain process was what fascinated me the most about these delicious anko 紅豆沙 sweets, Syanichi-Mochi 社日餅. Mochi 餅 are Japanese rice cakes made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shapes of small cakes. 社日餅 are quite particular as they can normally only be found in Hakozakigu 筥崎宮 Matsuri, Hatsumode an Honjoya. The number of people involved in the process was remarkable. The woman preparing the dough, the cook baking/grilling the little cakes, the woman who picks them up and puts them on a squared plastic sheet, the who wraps them in paper, the one that handles the cakes to the customer and finally me, a delighted consumer of those delicious sweet white buns.

:: Inside & Outside a café カフェ内部と外部 ::
130911 | 福岡

I have found it hard to find find places to seat outside in most Japanese cities I have been to so far. Outdoors eating seems to mostly happen around Yatai or during certain markets when temporary seating areas are set up for the event. However, street benches are rare and so are restaurants or cafés with outdoor seating. One can mostly find what in Portugal we call ‘esplanada’ in front of foreign branded cafés.

i* Towards the end of the afternoon, people enjoy tea and coffee both on their own or with friends, indoors and outdoors.

:: Sole diner 一人のダイナー ::
130911 | 福岡

i* Although there are specific dining times, people seem to be constantly eating in Japan. Around 4 in the afternoon, ramen are served in small local restaurants. The cook and the cooking process is normally exposed to the customers, so one can engage in the preparation of the food. Dining on one’s own is fairly common and this type of restaurants seem most suitable for sole diners who can seat along a long bench and eventually interact with the people seating next to them, though that does not happen that often.

:: Yatai 屋台 > in the evening 夕方 ::
130911 | 福岡

Peak time is between 9 and 10pm when everyone seems to take over the streets and start and the smell of food and the sound of chatting and laughing fills up the city.

People seem to moving around the stalls in a very natural way, almost as if they were not there. The width of the pavements is generous enough to accommodate Yatai, pedestrians and cyclist without any clash between them.

People gather around the cooks who busily prepare the food to be served on the spot. The smell travels around the city, but the privacy of those who eat is assured by the noren 暖簾 (fabric dividers at the entrance of most restaurants in Japan) making the Yatai environment partially similar to what could be experienced in an Izakaya.

i* Yatai during night time around Watanabe Dori.

:: Yatai : Kendo > setting up セットアップ ::
130911 | 福岡

Setting up starts around 6p.m. and takes a little while as all the furniture needs to get into place, gas connections established, lights on, food cooked, menu displayed around the corner to attract non-usual costumers.

The menu is always more or less the same, ramen being the common choice along with beer ビール, Shochu (distilled spirit around 20% – 40% alcohol. Usually made from rice, sweet potatoes, wheat and/or sugar cane and common in Kyuushu) or sake (around 10% – 20% alcohol).

Yatai stalls normally don’t stand by themselves but belong to rows of 3 or 4 spaced approximately 10 metres from eachother.

Kenzo, the owner of Kenzo’s Yatai told me that the stall is opened between 7pm and 2pm six days per week, but they start setting up around 5.30/6pm and finish packing everything only around 4am.

i* Kenzo’s Yatai by Daikoku baki Kawa.

i** Grandmother and granddaughter eating Kenzo’s neighbouring Yatai.

:: Yatai 屋台 > daytime 昼間 ::
130911 | 福岡

During day time many yatai stay packed and parked on the same spot. The ingenious storage system allows most of the equipment to stay inside and around the stall that, though it may look like it will move to a different location at any time, it normally doesn’t. Fukuoka hosts around 150 Yatai spread around different spots.

During daytime people move around them as if they were permanent buildings, or part of the existing street furniture. The fact that they can be found anywhere means they are not a surprise in the urban fabric, but more like a landmark to the city.

Often made with a timber structure on wheels, they seem to compactly pack the stools, the table top and all other components that allow the Yatai owners to assemble them fairly quickly when it starts to get dark.

i* Yatai during daytime around Meiji Dori.

:: Takoyaki たこ焼き ::
120911 | 福岡

Takoyaki たこ焼き stalls seem to pop up everywhere. Often in a caravan they provide very fast and filling portions of tayokayi with a variety of sauces at very cheap prices.

i* Takoyaki caravan/stall close to Daimyo.

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