Published: February 9th 2009February 9th 2009
There is one thing that the Japanese understand and celebrate more than anything, and that's food.
Nothing is more appreciated and enjoyed more than a day sitting with friends, surrounded by food, and having a good time. In every town, there is a famous food or preparation of food. Omiyage, or souvenirs, are brought back from a business of family trip for the day or weekend; it's all food. This culture is so rich with such a strong and complex food tradition that it's not surprising that food is something that would be celebrated with weekend long festivals for the masses.
This weekend, it was oysters.
I had already made plans to meet Chikako at the station and we got a quick breakfast of bread from the bakery before getting on the crowded train to Matsushima. We met Nozomi, our friend, at Matsushima station and proceeded to eat ourselves silly of oysters and scallops. Matsushima was overflowing with people out to enjoying the weather; which was cold, sunny, with slight snow flurries all day, while grilling large portions of oysters and enjoying oyster-nabe. There were vendors all over the place selling oysters every-which way: fried (my personal favorite),
grilled, in soups, on a stick, and raw. Even the National Defense force was there to help make giant pots of oyster-nabe.
We found an area were we were given an hour over a grill to cook oysters and scallops. Each of us got 3/4 oysters and 1 scallop to grill. My companions and I had no idea how to grill them. We just placed them on the grill and waited, hoping that somebody would come over and take pity on us and show us the ropes. That didn't happen until after our oysters were popping and girly screaming had penetrated the air. We were scolded, pitied, and put back on the right track to enjoying out oysters and early morning sake.
After offers to join the large group next to us and to come to their soda restaurant, we made our escape and headed to a small foot onsen for a little relaxation. We proceeded to Zuiganji and some delicious Japanese mochi, or rice cakes, covered with anko, red bean paste, kuro goma, black sesame, and another cover I didn't know. It reminded me of a sweet BBQ sauce though...wasn't my favorite though.
Chikako, Nozomi, and
I ended our stay around 3pm. Sadly, the trains were behind and my ended up freezing a little on the platform waiting for another train to come through.
There are more photos below