Kitchen Culture

tasty tidbits from the Taisho & Showa Era (20th Century) Japanese Kitchen

Natsu Matsuri Yatai

food stalls at summer festivals


Summer time in Japan is festival time: NATSU MATSURI. Nearly every rural and urban community stages some public event. Most feature bon odori dancing and yatai stalls that sell toys, trinkets, chance-and-skill games (kingyo-sukui, goldfish-scooping with paper nets, is the all-time favorite), and lots of retro-nostalgia snacks (cotton candy and Calpis, a milky-colored, chalky-sweet, soft drink are top sellers).

As with food found at beach stands in America’s coastal communities during summer vacation (think indigestion-inducing hot dogs, pizza and soda pop) much of the food sold at Japanese festival yatai is not wonderful stuff. But soy-glazed steam-roasted and grilled corn (called mushi yaki tomorokoshi) can be VERY GOOD. Although historically, maize (tomorokoshi) is linked to the food cultures of Mesoamerica, it’s hard to imagine summer in Japan today without chomping on corn.

soy-slathered corn
roasting on the grill

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