Somen: Slippery summer noodles worthy of slurping

Japanese love their noodles!  From steaming bowls of ramen or udon, to mounds of yakisoba fresh off the griddle and dripping with tangy sauce, to bamboo trays of buckwheat soba noodles for dipping into a salty soy sauce-based soup, noodles are a dietary staple here.  Not as common or well-known is somen--long, thin, wheat-based noodles, … Continue reading Somen: Slippery summer noodles worthy of slurping

Gion Matsuri – centuries-old purification rites (and a great summertime party)

It all started in the middle of the 9th century.  Summer was always the season for increased disasters:  illness, floods, and devastating fires.  So the emperor ordered people to offer prayers for relief at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto's Gion district. Before long, the prayers were being offered with such regularity that the people made an … Continue reading Gion Matsuri – centuries-old purification rites (and a great summertime party)