Yesterday was Gosha Shrine's Shinjousai (新嘗祭 WHY IS THIS HIGHLIGHTED), which is a harvest festival in which newly harvested rice is presented to the kami. It normally takes place in November, although when exactly in November it's celebrated varies from place to place.
Before the ceremony, a group of ujiko representatives cleaned the shrine grounds, which mostly consisted of raking up leaves and sweeping gravel off the sidewalk. The actual ceremony was very short again (only about ten minutes), and was just purification, norito, and then offerings of tamagushi, which I have found out is the correct name for the sakaki branches with shide attached.* Nakano-san also talked a little bit afterwards about how the weather in Japan has been really strange this year and so the harvest hasn't been as good as usual, but that means that more people should worship the kami so that next year's harvest will be better. Plus, as she pointed out, everyone should be grateful for what they have, even if it isn't as impressive as usual.**
After that they took the offerings off of the altar and split them up among the ujiko representatives, and all the non-ujiko representatives got little bags of mixed white and red rice.
And then everyone went home. So about 30 minutes total.
In other news, it FINALLY feels like fall. I had to actually wear a jacket today.
In class today we were talking about fall, and what it being fall means to all of us. I said that it meant I had to eat more, and the teacher gave me a weird look. "But you're so skinny!" I then explained that BECAUSE I'm skinny I need to eat a lot more when it gets cold. She considered and then said, "So you're like a bear." ...um...I think I'm missing part of this analogy...I don't hibernate...
It being fall also means squash is really cheap. REALLY CHEAP. Which means I have been eating a lot of squash. Which means it's time for...
MORE FOOD YOU CAN COOK IN A SINGLE PAN ON A DODGY STOVE
Ingredients! (makes two servings)
1 onion, cut into rounds
3 cloves of garlic, cut into thin slices
some squash, cut into chunks
some meat (I used pork)
1 weird green onion thing on steroids, sliced
some renkon, sliced
more ginger than you deem strictly necessary, cut into thin slices
some soy sauce
Step 1! Drop the onions, meat, and squash in a frying pan with the hon dashi, soy sauce, sake, and some water. Cook that for a couple of minutes with a lid on.
Step 2! Add the renkon, garlic, and ginger. Put the lid back on and cook for a few more minutes.
Step 3! Add the green pepper and mutated green onion thing. Cook for a few minutes with the lid off.
Step 4! Add the spinach.
Step not really a step at all! Marvel at the red rice. You'll probably notice that there are only about five grains of red rice in there; apparently if you put more than that in, it gets really gross.
Step 5! When everything has cooked down to a kind of goopy mess, turn your stove off.
Step 6! Enjoy. Om nom nom nom.
Some final notes:
1. I'm leaving for Kyoto tomorrow and will be there until Sunday. I WILL NOT HAVE MY COMPUTER WITH ME. IF YOU EMAIL ME AND I DON'T RESPOND, IT DOESN'T MEAN I AM DEAD. It probably means that I'm hanging out with Steven/Michele/Mary Elaine/my host family.
Consequently, my next blog post will be on Sunday at the earliest or Monday at the latest, depending on how exhausted I am from my travels.
Also, apparently Nanzan requires me to file a form every time I go anywhere. UGH.
2. A whole lot of my traffic is apparently coming through Alex's blog (if you're a small child, you should probably ask your parents before proceeding). Therefore, you should go visit his blog, causing a reverse flow which will create a whirlpool and/or destroy the universe. P.S. I am not an evil scientist.
3. Dear readers in Russia:
WHO ARE YOU? There are more of you than there are readers in Japan, which is insane, because I actually know people in Japan and I don't (think I) know anyone in Russia. WHO ARE YOU? I MUST KNOW.
*I feel like I should make a vocabulary page so that I'm sometimes a little bit understandable. Maybe I will...someday.
**This sort of logic has come up a lot in conversations I've had with people about the 3/11 earthquake. Nakano-san said that she had an elementary schooler and his mother visit the shrine, and when the mother went to the pray to the kami, the boy told her not to, because "the kami didn't protect us from the earthquake and tsunami." Keep in mind that Nagoya was pretty unaffected by 3/11! It would be really interesting to hear what people think farther north...