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3/3 Hinamatsuri - Girls' Day


Hello everybody. The Japanese Cat Day (Neko no Hi) is over. The next Japanese event is Hinamatsuri.

Hinamatsuri - Girls' Day or Doll's Day is held on March 3rd (Momo no Sekku - one of the five festival days from Edo period) to pray for the healthy growth and overall health of girls. The dolls in the photo above are called Hinaningyo dolls. Many Japanese households with any girls own them and put them on display inside the house for Hinamatsuri. It is said that those dolls take away the bad luck of girls who own them and bless them with happiness in life.

People also eat traditional dishes like chirashi-sushi, hamaguri clam soup, hishimochi diamond-shaped rice cake, and Hina arare sweet rice crackers, and drink shirozake white liqueur on the day to celebrate it.

This week, we will introduce those dishes and recipes from some of them, peach items we offer, the history of Hinamatsuri, and who Hinaningyo dolls are. Since it is difficult to get the Hinaningyo dolls here, we will share how to make them by yourself with origami paper as well. Let's get started.


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Chirashi-Sushi

Nagatanien, Sushi Taro Chirashi-Sushi Seasoning


In Japan, the styles of sushi are not only nigiri, rolls, and don, but also mixed rice called chirashi-sushi (or chirashi-zushi). Chirashi-sushi is probably the main dish on the Hinamatsuri table.

Actually, the origin of how chirashi-sushi came to be eaten on Hinamatsuri is not clear. However, the ingredients used are auspicious. Shrimp are for a long life until one's waist bends, renkon lotus root with its holes to see ahead, beans for good health and diligent work... and so on.

In addition, the yellow color of the egg and the green color of the garnish add to the richness of this dish, reminding you of the coming of spring. Chirashi-sushi with its colorful ingredients is perfect for celebrations.

The key is to arrange the ingredients evenly so that the color and volume are not uneven. If you use Sushi Taro we offer, it's very easy to cook. You basically just cook the rice and eggs, cut the eggs and ohba leaves along with your favorite kind(s) of fish either raw or cooked, and mix the ingredients and decorate, then it's ready to go!

Taro is a traditional boy's name in Japan. Sushi Taro allows anyone to make authentic Japanese chirashi sushi at home in a simple and easy way. It can even be used for sushi rolls and oinari. It contains five kinds of vegetables (renkon lotus root, carrot, kampyo dried gourd strips, bamboo shoot, and shiitake mushroom), sushi vinegar, and seasoning.


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(Recipe) Hinamatsuri Sushi Cake

Ingredients (18 cm mold/4-6 servings):

3 cups (2.2 lb/1 kg) of freshly cooked rice

*1 pack of Sushi Taro

3 eggs

Ingredients of your choice (tuna, salmon, etc.)

1 tbsp of shiradashi soup stock

1 can of tuna

1 tsp of mentsuyu soup stock

1 tbsp mayonnaise

10 shiso leaves

Appropriate amount of broccoli Sprouts as garnish (We do not offer them)

Appropriate amount of shredded nori seaweed as garnish


*If you do not have Sushi Taro

For 3 cups (2.2 lb/1 kg) of cooked rice

3.4 fl. oz./100 ml of sushi vinegar


*If you do not have sushi vinegar...

For 3 cups (2.2 lb/1 kg) of cooked rice

5 tbsp of rice vinegar

2 tbsp of sugar

1 and 1/3 tsp of salt

Simply combine the ingredients in a container and mix thoroughly. No heating is required.

Directions:

1. Put the Sushi Taro into the freshly cooked rice, mix, and let cool.

2. Mix the eggs with the shiradashi soup stock and make well-done scrumbled egg.

3. Drain the oil from the tuna can, add the mentsuyu soup stock and mayonnaise, and mix well.

4. Cut shiso leaves in half lengthwise, then cut into thin strips.

5. Cut ingredients such as salmon into desired shape.


6. Line a cake pan with plastic wrap and place the scrambled egg on the bottom. Place 1/3 of the sushi vinegared rice on top and press down lightly.


7. Add the tuna that you made in step 3, another 1/3 of sushi rice, shiso leaves, and the last 1/3 of sushi rice in that order, and press down lightly. Leave it for about 15 minutes to blend.


8. Cover with a plate, turn over, and sprinkle with your favorite ingredients and garnish with things such as shredded nori seaweed to complete the dish!


Tips:

  • The rice will harden when placed in the refrigerator, so top with the ingredients that cannot be heated up, like sashimi, just before eating!

  • Depending on the size of cake mold, there may be some left over sushi rice, but do not worry about it. You can reuse it for sushi or sashimi over sushi rice etc.


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Hamaguri Clam Soup

Hamaguri clam soup is one of the celebratory dishes for Hinamatsuri. It is a very spring-like dish, sometimes accompanied by nanohana rapeseed. Why hamaguri are clams chosen among the many shellfish? There is a good reason.

Clam shells come in pairs and are never matched with other shells. They are so perfectly matched that they were even used in the Heian period (794-1185) in the game of kaiawase shell-matching. The wish was that the shells would stay with one person for the rest of their lives. When making soup, it is customary to put a clam with its mouth open in a bowl and put two pieces of meat in one clam.


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Hishimochi Diamond-Shaped Rice Cake

Hishimochi means diamond-shaped rice cakes. It is an event food during the Hinamatsuri and one of the things displayed together with Hinaningyo dolls. The diamond shape is modeled after the heart, which is a symbol of a girl's healthy growth, protection from bad luck, longevity, and prosperity of offspring.

It was in the early Edo period (1603-1867) that the hishimochi became that shape. At that time, there were two colors: green for yomogi mugwort rice cakes and white for hishi water chestnuts. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), the two colors of green and white were joined by a peach or red colored rice cake containing sanshishi cape jasmine.

The colors of the rice cakes have the following meanings.

Green

The image of the earth with new sprouts and grass, and the yomogi mugwart inside the rice cake is meant to ward off bad luck.

White

It represents lingering snow. The hishi water chestnuts in the rice cake are meant to lower blood pressure and regulate the functions of the stomach and intestines, and are associated with the wish for prosperity of offspring and longevity.

Peach/Red

It represents peach blossoms. Sanzashi gardenia has detoxifying properties, and is therefore said to ward off evil.

Hishimochi come in three colors, and it is said that the order in which the different colored mochi are stacked represents a scene from spring. There are two different layering orders.

In the order of green, white, and peach from the bottom

Snow (white) remains on the earth (green), and peach blossoms (peach/red) are blooming on the trees.

In the case of the order of white, green, and peach color from the bottom

New shoots (green) are emerging from the snow (white), and peach blossoms (peach/red) are blooming.

(Please note that there are various theories.)


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Hina Arare Sweet Rice Crackers

In the old days, Hinamatsuri had a different aspect to it than it does today, and there was a custom called Hina no Kuni Mise in which the Hinaningyo dolls were taken outside to show them the peaceful scenery of the fields and mountains in spring. It is said that the hishimochi displayed with the Hinaningyo dolls were crushed and brought out as a snack, and this is the reason why Hina arare was born. The three bright colors of Hina arare are derived from the colors of hishimochi, which we talked about just above.

There are also four-color Hina arare, which are made by adding yellow to the three basic colors, and in this case they represent the four seasons:

Peach/Red: Spring

Green: Summer

Yellow: Autumn

White: Winter

(Please note that there are various theories.)

It is surprising to learn that the original form of Hina arare was hishimochi. Knowing the meaning behind the colors, we can understand the significance of eating Hina arare on Hinamatsuri. It is said that it differs from region to region, so if you have a chance to visit Japan during Hinamatsuri season, please try the local Hina arare.


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(Recipe) Hina Arare Made from Mochi Rice Cakes

Ingredients (2 servings):

2 pieces (1.4 oz./40 g) of kirimochi rice cakes

1.4 oz./40 g of sugar

2 tbsp of water

<For coloring - optional>

1/2 tsp of kinako soybean flour

1/2 tsp of matcha powder

1/2 tsp of dried strawberry powder etc. (We do not offer any.)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 302°F/150°C.


2. Cut the kirimochi rice cakes into 0.2"/5 mm square dice with a knife. (Make the leftmost shape in the photo.) Be careful not to hurt yourself because it is very hard.


3. Place the cut mochi rice cakes on a baking pan in the oven, leaving some space in between. (When they puff up, they will stick together.) If they do not all fit, divide them into two.


4. Bake at 302°F/150 degrees for 20 minutes. When baked, they will be crispy. Let cool for a while.


5. Put sugar and water in a frying pan. Turn the pan to allow the water to soak the sugar, then turn on medium heat.


6. Heat over medium heat. Do not touch with a spatula, just shake the pan occasionally. When thicker and the bubbles become larger...


7. Add the baked mochi rice cakes and mix well. Saute over low heat until it becomes dry.


8. When done, take out and remove from heat.


9. If desired, add kinako soybean flour, matcha green tea powder, strawberry powder etc. in each bag or bowl and mix well to make colorful arare.


10. The left is kinako, the lower right is matcha, and the upper right is strawberry. Please try making them with your favorite kinds of powder.


11. Be careful when eating, as the powder tends to stick to your hands.

Tips:

  • If you do not have an oven, you can use a frying pan with a lid on for about 15 minutes. It can be done over medium-low heat, but you cannot make many and they burn easily.

  • For the pink color, you can use dried strawberry powder, dried raspberry powder, dried cherry powder, or any other red-colored powder you like.

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Shirozake White Liqueur

Shirozake white liqueur is a cloudy white liqueur made by mixing mirin and shochu with steamed rice and rice malt, allowing it to mature for about one month, and then lightly mashing it. The ingredients are similar to sake, but because mirin and other ingredients are added, it is classified as a liqueur in Japan. It has an alcohol content of about 9-10% and is characterized by a thickened mouthfeel and a strong sweet taste.

In ancient China, peaches were considered to be a sacred tree that purged evil spirits and granted longevity, and it was said that drinking peach blossoms in sake would improve one's health. It is believed that shirozake white liqueur came to be used for this peach-blossom wine as a liqueur that would enhance the beauty of peach blossoms, and this led to the current custom of drinking shirozake white liqueur.


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Peach Products

Kasugai, Peach Gummy Candy

This peach-flavored gummy from Kasugai, who has an established reputation for manufacturing candies and gummies, has a resilient texture and a gentle sweetness that spreads in your mouth when you bite into one. The fruity flavor makes you feel like you are eating a real peach.


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Sakura Seika, Okayama Hakuto White Peach Castella

This castella sponge cake offers a sweet and juicy flavor. It is made with Okayama white peach puree and white peach filling, and baked to perfection using a secret recipe. Enjoy the fresh and gentle aroma of white peaches and the moist texture.


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Orihiro, Purunto Konnyaku Jelly Peach 

You can enjoy the plump texture of the konnyaku powder formula and the freshness of the peach. It only has 47 kcal, so it is good for those who are on a diet or when you want to eat something small.

Asahi, Mitsuya Cider Tokuno Extra Strong Peach Squash

This cider is thick, delicious, and allows the body to take in the bounty of the peach. This extra-strong peach flavor is characterized by its ripe peach and smooth taste. The refreshing, slightly carbonated taste of this beverage makes you feel as if you have just bitten into a whole peach. It contains vitamin E, which is good for your body.


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There is a lot of food items, housewares, stationery, and gifts available at the store and our online store, Maido! Kairashi Shop, where you can place your order for shipping or store pickup! Happy shopping. :)

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