Ebisu Festival, Nishinomiya and the Big Tuna
Every year, around January 10th there’s a festival held at the Ebisu branches of shinto shrines throughout Japan (well at least I think it’s throughout I’ve only ever been to the local one in Nishinomiya).
This is a 3 day festival where thousands and thousands of people queue up at the shrine to give money and pray, and also to buy, not sure what you call them, blessed “charms”? – essentially sticks with leaves on tied up with coloured ribbons and stuff (just googled it – “talismans”, or translated from the Japanese fukusasa -
lucky bamboo grass) that are blessed by the priests and bring good luck to businesses in the coming year (as seems to be traditional with these kinds of charms talismans, you bring back the previous years one and chuckit in a big pile before queuing up for the new one).
This festival is great fun and we go every year. One of the key attractions is a big tuna donated by local businesses which people queue up to stick ￥5 coins to, again, supposed to bring good luck I think.
Another big attraction is the thousands of food stalls that line the streets and back streets leading up to the shrine. Never seen so much food! Every year we tuck into turkish kebabs, yakitori (chicken on sticks), karage (deep fried chicken – pronunced with a hard ‘g’) and sake from a wooden square cup.
This year I also tried squid on a stick – which I’ve been seeing around for years but never had the courage to try…pretty tasty!
For some reason aswell, this year nearly all the food stalls were rolling their food in fried eggs – pork on a stick wrapped in egg, chicken on a stick wrapped in egg, fried noodles wrapped. Must be the new trend.
For those that don’t know, Kansai is quite famous, food wise for takoyaki – which are balls of dough with octopus in, covered in mayonnaise and a brown sauce. Delicious. But of course there’s always the problem that octopusi (? – octopuses?) are quite large so you have to cut them up into small pieces, but how big should those pieces be??
Here’s a solution…
Just use tiny octopusi and stick the whole thing in! (ok, sometimes one of the legs will poke through the ball, but hey, nothing in life is perfect)