Oden Lunch

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This is a lunch of oden, pickles and rice.
Oden is a kind of hot-pot meal, where foods such as boiled eggs, white radish (daikon), fishcakes, tofu, seaweed and a weird rubbery Japanese vegetable food called konnyaku are all cooked up in a light soup. The grey triangular thing in the middle is konnyaku. The tube-like thing is a kind of fish cake. The brown thing tied in a knot is seaweed. The other two brown things are tofu. You eat it with mustard, even though I don’t think that Japanese usually eat much mustard with anything else – it’s not really a Japanese thing.
Oden is not really my taste, but my mum and dad really like it!

Secret Squirrels!

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A famous Japanese animal is the musasabi (Japanese dwarf flying squirrel), but a bit like the Japanese tanuki (raccoon dog) you’d be very lucky indeed to actually see on on your travels in Japan. There are said to be lots of them living in the forests of Mount Takao, not so far from Tokyo. We didn’t see any (they’re nocturnal, so it’s not so surprising) but we did find this nice sculpture of one instead.

Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Festival)

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March 3rd is Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Festival) in Japan. The traditional way to celebrate is for girls to set up these elaborate displays of dolls – the emperor and the empress are at the top, then the ladies in waiting, then the court musicians. Below there are two guards (with bows and arrows), and lots of traditional furnishings and accessories made of lacquer, including a tea ceremony stand with tiny bowls and even a tea whisk! At the bottom in the middle is a cart that would have been pulled by oxen.

If a family is rich then they might buy a set of hina dolls like this when their daughter is born. A set like this costs a fortune! Of course you can also buy smaller sets, or just single dolls.

These hina dolls are on display at the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima. So if you go to Hiroshima, you can go to see them.

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