Sakugi Furusato Matsuri

I was unexpectedly invited to attend a second small local festival this past weekend. The festival took place in the community center of Sakugi City, located in the neighboring prefecture of Hiroshima.

It was a beautiful day, and the grounds were full of families enjoying food, music, dance, and activities. I ate udon, inoshishi (wild boar), and fresh mochi.

The mochi was being prepared on site – something that I have wanted to see for a while. The glutinous rice is placed in a large stone bowl and pounded with a heavy wooden mallet. It takes strength and timing for two people to make the mochi – one pounding and the other turning the mochi to ensure it is equally mixed. They were even making yomogi mochi, in which mugwort is added to the stone bowl and mixed into the rice.

While the mochi is still hot, it is placed on a table covered in potato starch and made into patties. To make daifuku, the patties are filled with anko (sweet bean paste).

I got to try pounding the mochi, and was rewarded with a gift of freshly-prepared daifuku for my efforts.

Inside the community center, an area had been set aside for photo opportunities with kagura costumes. There was also a stage with live children’s music and several local artists’ exhibits. I didn’t stay long because I was with a friend, and his three-year old son was eager to get home. We did, however, have a photo-shoot with the kagura costumes, one of which I was told cost $15,000…

The rest of my afternoon was spent blissfully resting by the river, preparing for the next great weekend event – a community potluck and nomihodai (all you can drink) at the Daiwa Community Center.

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