Premodern Map of the Tokaidō Travel Route in Japan

Tokaidō bunken ezu is a volume of maps which shows the Tokaido in its entirety. The Tokaido was a long road connecting present day Tokyo to the capital in Kyoto, and the most important route among the Five Routes of the Edo period. This map was first printed in 1690…Continue reading

Advertisements

Saké Rice Wine in Hakone

Hakone is a mountainous region in Japan famous for its hot springs and saké breweries. They have perfected many variations of saké, using different rice grains, filtering methods, and aging techniques. There are even versions where bamboo charcoal is used to darken the saké to create a special edition drink…Continue reading

Konnyaku in Japanese Cuisine, Medicine, and Literature

Konnyaku is a jelly made from a type of potato native to East Asia. Originally, it was believed to have various medicinal properties, and was frequently prescribed by Buddhist monks, who often played the role of doctors. From here, it became widely eaten among the Japanese population, and is still eaten by many Japanese even today…Continue reading

All About Azuki, The Traditional Japanese Red Bean Dessert

The dessert is made form azuki, which is a type of bean commonly grown in East Asia and the Himalayan region. It is seen as healthy alternative to many sweets, as it is rich in dietary fiber and protein. Like with many Japanese dishes, red bean soup is considered seasonal and is typically consumed during the winter time. Historically, it was served at kanmi-dokoros, a type of sweets restaurant…Continue reading

Hamaguri Seawater Clams

Hamaguri clams have long been regarded as one of Japan’s most popular seafood products. Pre-modern Japanese travelers along the Tōkaidō would stop at Kuwana and eat fresh catches of hamaguri clams, usually baked or grilled.  It was customary to stop at Kuwana and order a portion of clams…Continue reading

pic_3

Abekawa Mochi Cakes

Abekawa Rice Cakes (Abekawa mochi) are a type of Japanese snack made out of pounded glutinous rice and kinako flour (1). They are small, round, and bite sized, sometimes served with a lump of red bean paste or with a large lump of sugar (2). kinako flour is flour made from roasted soybeans, sometimes with added sugar and spices…Continue reading

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 9.01.31 AM

Smoke Ascending from Mount Asama

Mount Asama is a volcano mentioned in the eighth episode of the Ise Stories. In this episode, the author wrote that the view of the smoke that was ascending from Mount Asama encouraged the poet to compose the poem. One interpretation of the poem is that it was composed because the poet was amazed at the sight of the Mount Asama…Continue reading

Reality and Sadness in the Poems of Mt. Utsu

Mount Utsu is well known for its mythology and paths of overgrown ivy and maples trees. It is often used metaphorically to contrast a kind of reality within the dream world. Utsu is a play on the word utsutsu, which literally means reality, and has connotations of awakening, and a mountain of sadness…Continue reading

sc163543

The Moon Rising over Matsushima

One aspect of Matsushima that Bashō references as being particularly beautiful is the moon rising over it.  He contemplates the moon rising over the islands before beginning his journey. He comments on the rising moon reflecting on the sea, and then seeks out lodging. In his room, he describes looking out the window as filling him with mystery and wonder, and his companion Sora writes a poem…Continue reading

Yoshu_Chikanobu_Matsushima_in_Rikuzen_Province