Tag Archives: Culture

Fire in the hole!

My local hanabi festival.  Usually fireworks are a summer thing, but here they are done in autumn, after what happened last year.

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The haze glass!

I won it for coming 9th in a haze fishing competition.  It was made by special order by legendary Tokyo tackle store Sansui.  The glass soon saw action as I warmed up my frying oil for the starter…

Some of the survivors ended up in a gratin; others were grilled and then sun-dried: these will be used to make the stock for celebratory o-zoni soup on New Year’s Day morning.  It is so dry here in the Japanese winter these fish are completely dried out left outside overnight.  Then they go in a ziplock bag and into the freezer until the 1st Jan.

 

Happy Eel Day!

Just kabayaki this year…

Happy (belated) Eel Day!

This year Eel Day coincided with the Sumidagawa Fireworks festival.  We still ate eel.

Caught some big ones

At least if you are a tanago angler…

It was hotter and humider than Satan’s codpiece last Sunday in Japan, but out at sea at least there was an occasional breath of wind to relieve the heat.  The weather did not interfere unnecessarily with the main objective of the day’s outing, which was to eat a very large amount of tenpura (whiting, megochi, squid, prawns, shiitake, lots of different veg) washed down with beer and shochu mixers.

I rather felt we were on board a sea-going izakaya rather than a fishing vessel, reinforced by the fact that this was a charter organised by my local bar and there were some very serious drinkers and eaters.  I had a lot of stuff to do in the evening so tried to avoid getting too roaring-drunk, but met with the immense kindness of my hosts (Japanese hospitality seems to get even stronger when out on the water) who plied me with more shochu, more beer, do I need more ice? and so forth.  The hillocks of straight-out-the-pot tenpura, the asari littleneck clams shucked, lovingly skewered on bamboo and grilled with a soy sauce glaze, the infinity of pickles and miso-shiru and rice made me decide I would not need to eat again for about a week (this proved to be wrong, though).

My homemade whiting rod is still giving good service, and occasionally I caught some fish in between the Yebisu beers straight out the cooler.

Thank you very much to Captain Yukio as always, Fukagawa Fujimi and all the regulars at my local izakaya!

late Waterloo/early Father’s Day

Bread and butter pudding…

New Year’s Greetings

To all, as another year passes. I spent my New Year’s Day in Tokyo, starting with a fire-exorcism at my local temple at the crack of dawn.  Photography is not permitted during the ritual, but here is a photo of the incense burner, or more like a cauldron, at the entrance to the temple – you put your incense in the pile and waft smoke over your affected or peccant organ that you feel needs divine intervention.

First pilgrimage of the year (hatsumoude) is a fairly serious business here in Japan, and at my local temple a great number of food stalls and hawkers take advantage of the crowds and set up shop all around the neighbourhood.  There is certainly a carnival atmosphere, with the more dedicated souls drinking all night at the various o-den or yakitori stalls till the First (already one ambulance was being loaded with a man loudly protesting he was fine, absolutely fine, just as we arrived).  In my advancing years I like to go there early in the morning before the crowds pour in, which means a 6am or so start, hardly early for an angler.  Even so, at this time of the morning there are plenty of stalls happy to sell you snacks and shochu mixers and beer or hot sake, perfect for the winter cold.  There is clearly some message in a religion that welcomes all-comers regardless and lets you drink as much alcohol as you want during your pilgrimage, and makes no restrictions on the foods you can eat.  I went for atsukan sake, some yakitori and yakisoba although in the food line there was literally everything on sale from the standard such as spun sugar, okonomiyaki or yakitori, to the absurd: doner kebabs, whole baked potatoes and bananas dipped in icing sugar.

At the fire temple, almost anything can be blessed, for a fee (I’ve seen cars, handbags and shoes being done) by the sacred fire.  However, it is only the shinto shrine next-door that sells magical amulets to keep you safe while fishing, so I thought I should buy some of these.  One goes on my tackle bag and the other on my lifejacket.

Anyway, thank you for reading my blog over the years, and I hope you have safe travels and many great catches at sea in 2014!