Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sasadango & Akasakayama Park

It was during the time when we were walking though the walking path in Echigo Hillside Park that one of our lecturers mentioned about a kind of confection made by filling mochi (glutinous rice cakes) containing yomogi (mugwort) with bean paste and wrapping them in sasa or bamboo leaves. It is more commonly known as sasadango among the locals here and is a popular souvenir of Niigata prefecture. We left the tulip park and on our way to the next destination, we stopped by a factory which specialise in making sasadango.
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We were greeted with a traditional tool they used to pound the rice cake and some fake mochis upon our arrival to the factory.
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This is how the stove used to look like in the olden days.
We got to see how sasadango is made by the workers in their late sixties, who sat on the wooden floor inside an enclosed room wrapping the sasadango. Their movements were so symmetry that it almost made them looked like some mannequins who are good in folding arts. They however, were real human beings as they smiled at my direction when I was looking at them making the sasadango. Haha, not only does these auntys know the art of folding, they know the art of camwhoring as well ;)
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Look at that aunty on the right. She's posing for the camera weh!
Sasadango usually come in one bundle of ten sticks and our lecturers bought us one bundle for us to have a taste on the sasadango. It looked almost similar to bak zhang, the only difference being the shape, size and the content inside the wrapped leaves as sasadango contain mochi filled with red bean paste, instead of glutinous rice with pork and some other ingredients like chestnuts and dried shrimps.
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Instead of having a pyramidal shape, sasadango come in cylinders.
What makes sasadango taste good is the aroma coming from the leaves used to wrap it, as the rest are almost similar to the normal mochi we normally have in Japan. Besides, looking at the sasadango from the outer layer makes it looks like our kuih kochi.
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Yes, sasadango is quite sticky as you can see here.
We left the factory feeling satisfied and were later taken to another park located about thirty-minutes' drive from Nagaoka. On our way there, we had to walk through another trail surrounded with trees once again. This is what you will get when you are taken to a trip by several retired elderly. Even when we were at the walking pathway earlier that day, they stopped so many times to tell us the names of the plants they came across. Of course we have no idea whatsoever about the plants, but we just gave our nod of acknowledgement most of the time. Halfway through our walk, we stopped a while to have a group shot.
Four Malaysians and three Japanese who got lost in the trail.
Akasakayama Park is one of the main spot during the autumn as it offers a beautiful sight of autumn foliage during that period of the year. It was certainly a wrong timing for us to visit that park then, nevertheless the park still offered an atmosphere of a Japanese garden when we were walking inside the park.

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The entrance to the maple garden.
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Miraculously, there were still some tress with red maple leaves spotted in the park.
From what I was told by one of my lecturers, this park was a brainchild of one of the rich man in this district many decades ago, and he used to be a person who loves maple trees very much. Hence, he used his rich fortune to buy over most of the maple trees around that area and assembled them in this park for his own satisfaction, which in the end transformed it into a beautiful park.
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I am not sure about this, but I reckon this statue is related to the founder of this park.

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Same goes to this statue as well.

However after his death, none of his descendants were interested in continuing to maintain this park and it was left abandoned for a while. It was some time later that the park was handed over to the city council to manage the park. Looking at the conditions of the park, it is still very-well preserved and taken care of, even until today.
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There is even a wooden well, which is not usable anymore.
It was getting late that evening and we decided to call it a day. Before we head back to our kosen, we dropped by one of the beaches along Kashiwazaki and it was one of my rare time when I get to go to a beach in Japan. The last time I have been to any beach was during the last summer holiday, when I was in Oshamanbu. The water was much cleaner than our beach and it had light blue tone to complement with the cloudless blue sky that day.
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That was the end of our one-day trip and thanks for reading.


Kevin Tan said...

why they say mochi is made by a rabbit in the moon ar?

calvin said...

@ kevin tan:
who said?

Anonymous said...

kuih muih

Kevin Tan said...

calvin go sleep!

calvin said...

@ kok hong:
why are you so random?

calvin said...

@ kevin tan"
ahh, yea yea...
*spank kevin and goes to sleep*

KOKahKOK said...

the patung is LO HAN! 十八罗汉.....

calvin said...

@ kokahkok:
i'm not very sure about that, but thanks for sharing the info :)