Akita #6: Kiritanpo (きりたんぽ)

Akita’s 6th postcard features the delicious kiritanpo, cooked rice pounded and formed onto skewers, then either grilled on a fire, or cut and added into soup like dumplings. I got the chance to try both types when I visited Akita, and really liked both. Definitely grilled and slathered with sweet miso paste was my favorite, however!

Nabe and postcard

The ingredients, including the kiritanpo

Close-up in the soup

Grilled with miso paste… yum!

A local specialty I definitely recommend!

Akita #1: Namahage (なまはげ)

Only a few more days until 2015, and I can’t believe the year has gone so fast! Today’s postcard takes us up north to Akita prefecture, whose Namahage demons come out on New Year’s Eve looking for all the children who have been lazy during the year. Will the Namahage come for you? I’m pretty sure I’m out of luck!

Like Namahage? This is a great site with lots of information on the origins and current practices of the Namahage for those interested in learning more, and you can also watch a great video about it here produced by NHK for their great 5 minute Fudoki series.

A namahage wall hanging I bought in Akita, and the Namahage postcard

A namahage visited Tokyo and deigned to pose with people on the street

And another resided until recently in Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi building

Finally, some Namahage themed products from my visit to Akita a few years ago.

My visit to Akita was for the Kanto Festival in the summer, so I didn’t get a chance to see any Namahage, but even if you can’t be in Akita for New Years Eve, there are many opportunities to see Namahage. In Akita itself, in February the Namahage Sedo Festival is held, which gives participants a chance to see Namahage and get some rice cakes from them. (Watch a video about the Sedo Festival with English subtitles here) At the Namahage Museum in Oga you can experience Namahage year-round.

And if you can’t make it out to Akita yourself, consider visiting a Namahage-themed restaurant where you can eat Akita-style foods and be terrorized by Namahage yourself! here’s a short blurb about it in English, and there are restaurants like Namahage in Ginza (English here) where you can experience this. I like this video for a good idea of the restaurant, with some extra information about another Akita specialty also featured on a postcard… kiritanpo! You know, I’ll go to Tokyo in January… maybe I will get a chance to eat there myself?

Anyway, Happy New Year 2015 from Postacollect, and watch out for those Namahage New Years Eve!