After our tour of Hachinohe, we took a little rest before venturing out to out first Japanese Festival.
Lucky for us, it was just outside the base. It was crazy!
Take a look at all the people hanging around. This was a main food area, and then another street was lined with Japanese street food vendors. Talk about traditional!
We got there just in time to catch some of the parade. Look at these amazing floats. Some pictures are blurry since the floats were moving, but you can get the idea.
Here are some of the girls dressed up as they walked with the floats:
Now, let's check out the food. This festival was as much about the floats and the history of the town as it was about the food. Since I am not yet an expert on traditional Japanese fare, I will give you my best run down, minus the actual Japanese names. I am sure I will learn over the course of the next few years.
This was one of the cutest treats I spotted along the streets. These are skewers of chocolate dipped banana pieces, which were decorated with other candies.
This is a cart that I have actually seen set up just down the block. They serve doner kebabs, which are really popular apparently all over the place. On the island people loved these too from the street cart.
This lady was cooking up some chicken skewers. I don't eat chicken, but I loved the idea that they just set up grills and made chicken skewers right there on the street.
As we walked around I found myself fascinated by the parade that continued on the road behind us, so I kept wandering off to snap more pics of these amazing floats. Yes, I was all over the place. Talk about system overload!
Like I said, system overload, so I went with something safe. This was a smoked salmon sandwich. Definitely a good choice.
Not even sure what these are, but I obviously thought they were cool enough to take a picture.
Here is what Ryan picked out. Recently we talked about using a fried egg on top of pasta as a sauce. We thought we were so creative (the idea was to do this specifically on squid ink pasta, which is black in color), but it seems the Japanese beat us to it. This was noodles, some kind of meat, some veggies, and topped with a fried egg. They make the food right there and just put it in these funny little to go containers and stack it up for people to just grab and pay for.
After we grabbed our dinner we sat at a table right on the street where the parade was passing. This was a major display of multitasking. I wanted to eat but I also really wanted to take these pictures. The floats were just so beautiful and elaborate.
After dinner we continued on our walk to check everything out. We stumbled across a favorite. When we were in Hawaii for our honeymoon, we tried shave ice. This is actual shave ice. Ryan loved it so it was nice to find it here. For shave ice this giant block of ice is put on a spinning plate and then shaved with a razor blade into a cup.
This guy would shave some ice, then put in flavoring, and then more ice and more flavoring.
That's a lot of shave ice!
He said it was really good. I was still full from dinner so I passed, but I am sure it would have been delicious.
On to more crazy street foods. Actually, when we headed down this street we hit the motherload of all Japanese street foods.
First up we have baked dough balls with baby octopuses inside.
Really? Yes! Look at these crazy little octopuses. I loved that the stands put out in front all of the ingredients found inside the dishes. It was nice to have everything on display. They are very big in Japan with pictures of their foods. Most restaurants have food models in the windows, so I expect this display was for the same reason.
The octopus and veggie were put in these hot molds and then the batter was poured over.
Then they come out as balls. Sorta like a fritter of sorts.
These are candy apples and other treats made from fruit.
Here is the naan. If you read my blog the other day I showed the naan and how funny shaped it was. I am used to round, so this was interesting. At the festival I was able to see how this was made. The dough is dropped into the tandoor, which I have never seen in all my years of eating Indian food. This is an actual tandoor oven. Since the dough is placed in stretched out like this, it comes out a funny shape.
These were AWESOME! I was given a sample because I was taking pictures and obviously interested. These were little balls in a hot mold, like a waffle iron. Yes, these are little mini pancakes. Tasted just like a pancake!
That was it for the first night, but we were lucky that this went on for 2 more days. Let's see what went on the next night.
Walked out to the festival we spotted the "homemade" floats for the float contest. These were local groups that were competing against each other.
We decided to explore a little more in the food area before deciding on dinner.
Guess what I ordered?
If you guessed those crazy octopus balls, you are correct! Yes, not kidding. In a brave mood I ordered these. They tasted good, but I absolutely could not chew the octopus. They were bigger pieces, not just the whole octopus, but still, it was just too tough. But I tried!
Hmmm, this appears to be a cucumber on a stick.
I think these are more chicken skewers.
This is what I wanted for dessert. Yum! This crepe was filled with chocolate cream and was so good.
This is what Ryan picked for dinner. This place had the longest line. We were told this is a traditional street food and a local favorite. It was a little production line to make this dish which was a concoction of just about everything. The two people working the stand had their technique down and as one ingredient was added the food was moved down on the grill so the next item could be added and they could cook for the right amount of time. Here you can see the last three stages. Again, you can see the use of the egg.
While he was finishing up we heard drums and decided to check it out. Local groups were performing in the square. These were drummers.
While watching them I turned around and spotted this odd skewer. Never thought to put potato chips on a skewer.
Then we watched more local performers in dance and tai chi.
Then the float contest started and we watched and laughed. Everyone was having a good time. It is amazing to watch the Japanese. No matter what, they always seem to find a way to enjoy themselves. They have a very positive attitude. They really put a lot into those performances and it was awesome to get to experience this with them.
QUESTIONS: What is your favorite festival/fair food? Do you recognize any of these foods (curious if you can tell me what any are called)? Have you ever had shaved ice like this?