ultramarinus – beyond the sea

DAY 1 – FEAST UNDER THE SHADES OF SAKURA, Mount Yoshino (2 of 2), Japan

If one wishes to burn some calories with uphill hiking, Mount Yoshino may not be a good destination, especially during the hanami season.  In fact, hiking on Mount Yoshino during cherry blossoms would likely become a journey for tasting local delicacies. DSC_8733This vendor was selling made-to-order imagawayaki. It is a popular Japanese snack like a thick pancake with sweet azuki bean paste. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe tried a few kinds of freshly made mochi.  They were perfect complement to a cup of warm green tea. DSC_9058A store is selling fresh amago (Angel Fish) on the sidewalk. Amago is commonly found in the mountainous rivers and streams. With its vertical strips and pink dots, Amago is highly recognizable. DSC_8719Grilled amago (Angel Fish) skewer was a popular snack. DSC_8736This store was selling sakura products of all kinds: sakura tea bag, sakura salt, sakura candies, sakura scened papers… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARice crackers, round or square… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFresh ingredients are the soul of Japanese cuisine. Spring must be the season for fresh mushrooms and bamboo shoots. During our hike, we met a vendor grilling fresh mushrooms. He waved at us and asked us where we came from. He introduced  his own organic mushrooms to us. We picked up a bag of dried mushroom from him. DSC_8743 The skewers in the pictures are fresh bamboo shoots. After we placed the order, the shop owner dipped a bamboo shoot skewer into a tempura batter and deep fried it.The bamboo shoot tempura was served with sakura salt. It was very delicious. No wonder why there was a long queue in front of the store. DSC_9057We couldn’t bring the local sake back home but we were lucky to have a chance to sample some local sake. DSC_9068It was almost sunset and most visitors had started descending. On our way back to the train station, we passed by a store selling kusa mochi, a Japanese sweet made from the leaves of Japanese mugwort.  Through a side window we could see some of the preparation process.  The store was near closing and the chef was preparing the dough.  We couldn’t resist but bought a few freshly made mochi with red bean filling. IMG_0268“Persimmon leaf sushi”, sushi wrapped in preserved persimmon leaf, is popular in the Nara area since the Nara period. it can last in room temperature for about 2 days, kind of perfect for hiking.  We bought a box of persimmon leaf sushi from a store near Yoshino train station. The store put up a big sign that said  “自家製”, meaning “homemade”.  Obviously it  caught our attention. IMG_0274We bought a box of persimmon leaf sushi from the Yoshino station before our hike.  We couldn’t find a good time to open it during our hike.  Instead, we had the box of sushi as breakfast in the next morning. Each sushi was neatly wrapped.  At first, we were skeptical about the taste as we never had “overnight” sushi before.  They turned out to be a pleasant surprise. These sushi had been preserved with seasoned rice vinegar.  A subtle aromatic flavor from the persimmon leaf lingered in the rice.

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Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino 
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka

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