Shiogama-Urato Nori Festival!
This is Hizashi.
Katsura-shima (island) is known for its nori seaweed.
Thick! Fragrant! Tasty!
It’s so delicious!
Celebrating it is the Shiogama-Urato Nori Festival, on again this year!
A ten minute walk from the JR Hon-Shiogama Station, at Marine Gate Shiogama, a crowd forms.
It’s May 26, 2013, the day of the festival, and these people are waiting in anticipation of the ferry to take them to Katsura-shima.
After a half hour on the boat, they disembark on the island!
The islanders and festival staff were there to greet them.
The group streams down the pier towards the festival grounds.
It’s a bright day with perfect weather.
With food and shop stalls and a stage the visitors have themselves a good time.
Just in time, the island’s rape blossoms were starting their annual bloom. This year the winter went on long, and the islanders tell us they suffered some withering.
The islanders and volunteers responded by replanting with their own hands, but the blooms are coming in a bit late because of this.
Before the tsunami, there were about 80 homes on the island. Around half were swept away by the ocean, and now some live in temporary structures while others have moved to the mainland.
Here, where now there is an open field leading to the sea, there were houses and inns and shops, and tourists would come to enjoy the beach.
Since the disaster the public beach has remained closed, and the outlook for reopening for this year remains poor.
On the other hand, cleanup of a private beach continues, and Mr. Miura tells us they expect to open this summer!
It’s a great chance to enjoy a scenic beach without the crowds!
Now then, onto the day’s theme: the nori.
Thick! Fragrant! Tasty!
They sell a nori on rice “Nori-nori-don”, and look at the texture of that nori!!
There’s tons of other treats at the booths too♪
This is sake from neighboring Sabusawa-jima (island)!
Unusual for such a small island without mountain-sourced irrigation, Sabusawa-jima has rice paddies, and this sake is made entirely with prized sasanishiki rice.
The name of the sake is Urakasumi Sabusawa, and this rare brew is refreshing yet sweet and quite delicious.
Of course there’s Katsura-shima nori for sale too.
Normally hard to come by, this is a big draw for many of the visitors to the festival!
With another long line for it was the kara-age fried chicken.
The stage held various attractions, keeping the festival lively.
Musician ATSUSHI of Dragon Ash and skier Miyuki Hatanaka shared the stage!
The local children danced the island’s nori-nori dance, there was a rock-paper-scissors tournament, bands performed, and Matsushima High School students danced too!
I, Hizashi, joined in with the choir from Sendai-South High School and Shiogama’s own diva, asari, to sing “Wasenedeya”!
Here there were nori-yakisoba noodles—yum!
And nori-gyōza dumplings, a huge hit with the kids!
This is the second Shiogama-Urato Nori Festival after the first last year.
Organizer Miyuki Hatanaka vows to continue the tradition for next year:
“I want still more people to come to Katsura-shima and enjoy its charms. Come to Katsura-shima!”