Sunday, February 23, 2014

Osaka Toka Ebisu: Business Prosperity Festival

I was googling things to do in Osaka for our last day there, and came across this "Toka Ebisu Festival" at the Imamiya Shrine.  Oh cool, a festival at a shrine, let's go check it out!

The Festival happens on Jan 10th, with over 1 million visitors visiting the shrine every year. Locals bring fresh bamboo and buy lucky charms to hang on the branches. They also bring last year's bamboo to dispose of, as apparently keeping it for over a year brings bad luck.

The highlight for me is the Good Luck Parade with geishas and good luck girls. They are all chanting and singing and the overall mood was so festive!

So apparently if you're chosen to be a good luck girl, you'll end up getting lots of marriage proposals… seems a bit superficial, but then again, I'm not in a position to judge other people's cultures and customs!

Outside the shrine, stalls are set up to sell charms and snacks.  This reminds me of a night market in Toronto.  We went during the day so it wasn't too busy, but I think it will be more festive at night.

Event: Toka Ebisu Festival
Location: Osaka Imamiya Shrine
Cost: Free!
Overall impression: Definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Osaka during the Festival.  :)

Other Japan trip reports


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Our Valentine's Okonomiyaki Meal

Happy valentine's day everyone!  This year we decided to make our own v-day dinner to save $ for our upcoming wedding, and also because we actually feel that it's more romantic to cook a meal together.

Ever since we had Hiroshima Okonomiyaki in Japan last month (click here for our post on Hiroshima), we wanted to try making it at home, and v-day serves the perfect excuse! So we headed to a nearby Japanese market and purchased our ingredients:

Ingredients (for 2 portions):
1 pack Okonomiyaki mix
1/2 head cabbage
2 eggs
Green Onions
Dried seaweed (optional)

Sauce (make your own or purchase Okonomiyaki sauce):
1 tsp ketchup
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp mayo
1 tsp oyster sauce

The great thing about the Okonomiyaki mix ($4 Cdn) is that it comes with ENGLISH instructions, which is oh-so-valuable for non-Japanese speaking people like myself.

 1) To make the batter, combine 5.4 oz of water with the Yam Powder included in the mix, and stir.  Then add the Okonomiyaki Batter powder and mix.

2) Add chopped cabbage, green onion, tempura crisp (included in package), and the eggs to the batter.  Remember not to over-mix or else the mixture will become too thick.

3) Now it's ready for cooking!  Pre-heat the skillet and add cooking oil.  Pour in the entire mixture, and add the bacon strips on top.

4) Wait 5 minutes, and then flip!

5) While it's cooking, you can prepare the sauce.  We weren't planning on making our own sauce, but since we forgot to buy Okonomiyaki sauce, we had no option. Turns out its really easy to make - just combine equal parts of ketchup, mayo, oyster sauce, and soy sauce.

6) Once both sides are cooked, add dried seaweed and drizzle mayo on top, and there you have it! Your very own Okonomiyaki. By the way, if you have Bonito flakes, be sure to add them on top for added touch.