It's fall in Japan and it's my favorite season. In Japan, as in most places, there is a lot of emphasis placed on the seasons. Many foods, events and activities are centered around the season and only occur at that time of year. I want to try to document more of that this year.
A couple of weeks ago, I knew it had officially become fall because the pom poms started appearing around town. They are very colorful, large paper pom poms attached to a long bamboo stick. The colors represent each community. As I bike, bus and walk around the city I see pom poms attached to fences, bridges sign posts and light posts covered in plastic to protect them until they are needed. The poms poms are used during the harvest festival to cheer the people that are carrying heavy shrines. You may remember my blog posts from last year about all the fun, amazing and er...drunken festivals I attended.
There are also these pom pom looking flowers that appeared a few weeks ago. They line the sides of rice fields and many gardens around Himeji. They bloom in the fall and remind me of pom poms or the eyelashes of my favorite muppet. I think they are beautiful. The flowers' Japanese name is higanbana (higan + hana=flower) refers to higan, a Buddhist term for the period of seven days around the spring or autumn equinox, but these flowers only bloom in the fall.
As for food, chestnuts are here! There were chestnuts sitting in the teacher's room last week. These are wild chestnuts and they are delicious. Soon the grocery store will carry all kinds of chestnut flavored baked goods, candies and treats. Oh the treats and candies in Japan are out of this world and sometimes very strange, but mostly tastey. This is probably another blog entry.
Even the chestnut shell looks like a pom pom, a sharp, spikey pom pom.