Nothing beats the excitement of being in Japan during summertime and soaking up the energy offered while attending its special summer events featuring Japan's unique food, drink, culture and special places.
Food & Drink
MUGICHA BARLEY TEA
Mugicha, also known as Japanese roasted barley tea, is a traditional summer drink in Japan. It is a commonly held view amongst Japanese women that barley tea has cooling properties. This, combined with the fact barley tea is full of Vitamin B, fiber, and iron, makes mugicha a beloved symbol of summer in Japan. During the hot summer months, many restaurants will serve barley tea instead of water and it is also readily available in vending machines, convenience stores, and grocery shops.
KAKIGORI SHAVED ICE
Kakigori, also known as Japanese shaved ice, comes in two varieties. Festival style kakigori is shaved ice with artificial flavors such as lemon, green tea, melon, "Blue Hawaii," or strawberry poured on top. Most street vendors will use an electric or a hand operated machine that rotates a block of ice over a stationary blade and shaves the ice flurries into a container.
Another variety of kakigori typically served in restaurants is the green tea flavored kakigori, or uji kintoki, which is topped with sweetened red bean paste, ice cream, condensed milk, or tapioca pearls. These kakigori flakes are much thinner than their festival-style counterparts; they turn a street festival food into a sophisticated, traditional Japanese dessert.
UCHIWA ROUNDED PAPER FANS
Uchiwa (or rounded paper fans) have been used for many centuries in Japan, essential for creating a breeze to stay cool during hot weather. Uchiwa, commonly seen in Japanese summer festivals, is used by people as a personal fan. For a long time, traditional folk dancers used them as part of their choreography. They are made with a thin bamboo frame and adorned with decorated paper or silk stretched onto the frame.
In Kagawa prefecture, Marugame-Uchiwa were first made as souvenirs for pilgrims while visiting Kotohira-gu, a shrine in Kotohira, Kagawa. The Uchiwa production, adorned with gold decoration, was encouraged by the feudal lord. Later, they became popular for lower-ranking members of the samurai class. Today Marugame produces about 90% of the Uchiwa in Japan.
FURIN WIND CHIMES
Furin, a wind-bell is a signature charm of the Japanese summer season, and is produced by attaching a broad flat streamer below a bell which hangs to catch the wind. When the wind blows it creates beautiful sounds, the bell produces a gentle tone and a relaxing atmosphere in hot weather. The Furin originated from China but came to Japan together with Buddhism. It was made of bronze and commonly hung in the four corners of a temple as charms against evil spirits. Later the Furin became available to ordinary people and glass Furins became very popular. Nowadays, there are many shapes and materials of Furin. The two most representative styles are Nanbu-Furin, made of Nanbu ironware and Edo-Furin, made of glass, the most common style today.
You can feel the very spirit of Japan from the wind chimes and create your own traditional Japanese Furin as a souvenir at a crafting studio in Japan.
For more information about creating your own Edo-Furin wind bell in Tokyo, please visit here.
UCHIMIZU SPRINKLING WATER
Uchimizu describes the venerable tradition of sprinkling water at the entrance of your own house or your own business. It is also a part of the process of Shinto ritual purification. In the old days, Uchimizu welcomed people by purifying the entrance, keeping the dust from rising into the air and cooling down the area if it was hot. Most common in the summer, Uchimizu is most effective in the early morning in the shade. An old Japanese custom, Uchimizu is an environmentally friendly method to ease the urban heat-island effect. There are some rules for Uchimizu such as not sprinkling over other premises.
For more information about Uchimizu, please visit here.
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