Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Japan Day, Auckland - and an easy Japanese salad recipe

The supreme elegance of the Tea Ceremony
Sometimes it is way easier to go to something alone and  Japan Day in Auckland last weekend was one of those times.  Not because it wouldn't have been fun to share it with someone but because the crowds were huge and tight and it would've been hard to stay together.  I suspected it would be a bit of a squash but  as a Japanophile I had been hanging out for a Japan fix for a while so couldn't resist the urge to go.

Japan Day has grown bigger and more popular over the last few years and is one of the reasons I love living in New Zealand's biggest city.  I am a sucker for cultural festivals and with its multicultural  population Auckland now has its fair share.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a particular love for Japan and Japanese culture so on Japan Day I was in my happy place.

 Hinamatsuri dolls -set up as for  a religious festival

All things Japanese were on display, from ikebana, bonsai and calligraphy to kempo martial art, traditional dance and the strange, unique Japanese street fashions  of Lolita and Gothic Lolita.

Visitors could try their hand at calligraphy, play Japanese board games, dress up in a kimono or sample the potent Japanese beer (8% alcohol).

There was a stage for J-pop performances and another stage for traditional dance and song.  The tiny tots from Auckland's Japanese kindergarten were little scene stealers

Food stalls offered sushi, okonomiyaki (one of my favourite light meals) sashimi, teriyaki, green tea ice cream and a myriad of other taste delights.  I wandered around with a big smile on my face snapping photos here and there and pretending I was on holiday in Japan. The steady drizzle didn't dampen my spirits nor, anyone else's, it seemed.
Traditional dance



My nephew, a black belt in Kempo
Pounding the rice for rice cakes
Lolita Japanese street fashion

And here, as promised, is the easy recipe:


1 cucumber
3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of water
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
toasted sesame seeds

Peel and half the cucumber lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and slice the cucumber thinly. Mix all other ingredients together except for the sesame seeds.  Pour over the cucumber, stir and leave to marinate for an hour or two before eating.  Sprinkle the sesame seeds over to serve.
This is a great side dish, condiment or palate cleanser.  It is also superb served in sandwiches with roast beef.   It takes about 5 minutes to prepare and will keep for a day or two in the fridge.