January 19, 2013

Setagaya Boroichi Festival, Mochi Edition

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The Boroichi Festival in Setagaya, a large-scale flea market/festival held twice a year on January 15-16, and December 15-16. Boro means "rag" in Japanese, and refers to the scraps of cloths that farmers would buy to reinforce the straw sandals they wove during non-farming season. However, markets were held in the area long before this; it is said to have started in the 1570s.

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The market is open from 9am to 8pm, and there are around 700 stands. While there is much to see and eat, a major highlight is Daikan Mochi, mochi cakes that are sold specially at this festival every year. In the above photo, you can see the banner pointing to the mochi stand.

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As with all extremely popular things in Japan, if you want to be a part of it, you have to be prepared to wait in line, up to 40 minutes in this case. This was the day after the big snow and it was bitterly cold. Fortunately, I barely had to wait -- even the second time I went to buy mochi. The people (and chihuahua) above were not so lucky.

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The back of the tent, where the mochi was being prepared. As you can imagine, there was an extremely efficient system for buying mochi, designed to take the least amount of time possible.

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I bought kinako-covered mochi (soybean flour sweetened with sugar powdered all over the mochi), and the other two kinds were anko (sweet bean paste), and karami (mochi covered in daikon radish and flavored with fish flakes). They were all sold out by 4:30 pm when I visited on the first day.

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In a very thoughtful touch, hot hojicha tea had been prepared for people eating outside. The cups were periodically gathered and washed, and fresh tea was put in the thermos quite frequently.
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A woman preparing hot tea outside, right near the tables where people ate their mochi.


Anonymous said...

Actually, it is 15 and 16, not 14 and 15...
Wonderful market!

Sachiko Shiota said...

Noted and fixed. Thank you!