Akita prefecture, from the Tohoku region has been separated from central japan for a very long time because of its mountain ranges, this led Akita to develop certain specific customs which have been taught from generation to generation until today. One of such customs is kiritanpo-soup. Families in Akita traditionally gather once a year to cook this soup.
Amasagi-mura – A view into an Edo period village
Amasagi-mura is a cultural facility build over the ruins of what once was the Kameda castle in what is now the city of Yurihonjo. Amasagi-mura lets you experience what life in rural japan was during the Edo period(1603-1868). The main gate has been reconstructed to resemble the original one and feels like a time tunnel to an old Edo period village. The village has a historical center, where old items from the Kameda clan such as furniture, teaware, paintings and books are displayed. There is also an art gallery and 2 houses where once vassals of the Kameda family lived. There are lots of activities one can take part in, including the weaving of a traditional cloth and preparing traditional foods, one of the most famous ones being kiritanpo-soup.
Kiritanpo – a hot challenge
Kiritanpo consists of freshly cooked rice which is slightly mashed and formed around akita cedar skewers. According to the people from the village, only akita cedar is good for making kiritanpo, as rice will stick on other types of wood. These rice skewers are toasted over an irori, which is a traditional Japanese fireplace used for heating and cooking. After toasting, the still very hot kiritanpo has to be separated from the skewers with bare hands, which is a bit of a challenge. Some people say the kiritanpo originated when akita woodcutters used to wrap their leftover rice around the stick and ate these not to waste their limited rice.
The kiritanpo making experience costs around 350 yen and takes around 20 minutes. It is one of the easiest foods to prepare, so anyone can take part of the activity. The chicken soup however, is already prepared by the people from the village. The soup is traditionally cooked a whole day. The room where kiritanpo is prepared is cozy even in winter thanks to the heat from the irori. This, together with the freshly toasted kiritanpo and the delicious soup makes for a fantastic meal in the cold weather of akita. The facility is quite large so it can accommodate large groups of people, so one can have fun making hot kiritanpo together with friends or family and eating together.
At the end of the day one can buy some local products from the souvenir shop which looks like a castle keep.
From Akita station:
Take the Uetsu line to Ugo-Kameda station. (Takes around 28 min./500Yen)
From Ugo-Kameda station: 5 minute taxi ride.
Click here for the Amasagi-mura village home page.