Kawamoto Sangyo-sai

For the past month, the Kawamoto eikaiwa (English conversation) class that I have been a part of has been preparing for the Kawamoto Sangyo-sai. The sangyo-sai is an annual agriculture/industrial festival that takes place in small towns all over Japan this time of year. In Kawamoto it took place last weekend, and involved food, craft, entertainment and exhibitions along the streets of the city center.  The Kawamoto eikaiwa group worked together to create an international tent of sorts – featuring displays from the local Assistant Language Teachers’ (ALTs) hometowns, homemade Banana Bread, Korean chijimi, and apple bobbing.

I helped to prepare for the event by making an informational binder on the history, culture and demographics of South Dakota. I became absorbed in the project and have continued to work on it post-sangyo-sai. South Dakota is a fascinating place.

The day before sangyo-sai the ekaiwa group got together in the local community center’s kitchen and handmade 150 banana bread cupcakes. We mashed an absolutely obscene amount of bananas, but the results were delicious. We sold each cupcake for 100 yen (about $1.25) and ran out by the end of the festival.

Other interesting sangyo-sai booths included a local mushroom man who was selling growing kits for three varieties of mushroom for 500 yen each. I purchased a nameko kit and hope to enjoy some slimy mushrooms in my miso soup sometime soon.

The highlight of the festival had to be mochi maki – the traditional tossing of mochi from the second story of a central town building. In Kawamoto it was the local A-Coop grocery store. I knew it was mochi maki time when I saw men and women of all ages sprinting down the street in the direction of A-coop. I grabbed my camera and followed suit.

There were several minor injuries – hard discs of mochi crashing into someone’s face as they dove onto the ground to snag the ones that had been dropped. I ended up with about 30 pieces of mochi – a combination of ones that I had caught and those that were given to me by others.

I spent most of the day eating and talking about South Dakota. It was wonderful. I had:

  1. Banana Bread
  2. Akaten (lit. “Fried Red Thing” – it’s a fried red fish patty)
  3. Pongashi (sweet puffed rice)
  4. Tofu Ice Cream
  5. Futomaki (Sushi roll with egg, seaweed and crab)
  6. Kinako-coated Dango (Mochi on a skewer, coated in soy bean flour)
  7. Yomogimochi w. Anko (Mugwort Mochi stuffed with Azuki Bean Paste)
  8. Handmade Udon
  9. Crab Apples
  10. Chijimi (Korean-style okonomiyaki)

The day ended with the sun coming out of the clouds and everyone heading home. Our crew was tired and happy.

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