The year 2016 is about to come to an end. On the first day of the year 2017 people of Sendai shall go out to visit a shrine for hatsumode - the first visit of the coming year. And many of them will choose Osaki Hachiman shrine - the most famous, and probably the most beloved shinto shrine in Sendai. I am sure that this time, as always, there would be many foreigners visiting the shrine, too. Maybe you would be one of them, dear reader? Then we possibly can meet in a crowd!
Although Osaki Hachiman shrine is a very well-known site of Sendai, its territory is still full of surprises. For example, one of the many things that you can do in Osaki Hachiman is to eat some traditional sweets with delicious matcha.
The shrine’s rest house is called “Kura” (鞍）, which means “a saddle.” Horses were very important for shrines in the past days, and they still are. On many occasions in Osaki Hachiman you can see some gracious horses participating. Hence, the name is a quite suitable one.
“Kura” offers mostly traditional Japanese sweets. Mitarashi dango (みたらし団子） - rice flour dumplings in sweet soy sauce, oshiruko (お汁粉) - sweet soup from azuki beans with rice flour dumplings, mame kanten (豆寒天) - sweet jelly made from algae with beans,mizu-yokan (水羊羹) - red bean paste jelly - all are made at the spot and served with matcha.
They serve tamakon (玉こん) as well - a type of snack, popular in Tohoku, particularly in Yamagata prefecture.
And, last but not least, you can taste some traditional amazake - a sweet drink made of rice (no alcohol!), ideal for cold winter days. Amazake can be also purchased as a souvenir.
If you are visited by your family members or your friends and they want to see the best of Sendai, consider taking them to Osaki Hachiman, where they can not only see, but taste as well. And definitely visit “Kura” next time when you go for a walk in the Osaki Hachimangu shrine!
NB! “Kura” isn't open during the winter holidays, but meanwhile you can check some street food tents, that are especially rich in variety during the first days of January! And get ready for our next article about an upcoming traditional event!