Enjoying Sasakama Under the Stars
This is Heisei no Sendai-Shirō.
July 7 is Tanabata, the day of the Star Festival in Japan and East Asia generally.
Wishes are written on slips of paper and hung from sasa (bamboo).
Tanabata is the Star Festival, and also the festival of bamboo.
From this year, it has been declared the sasakama day.
Kamaboko is a type of fish sausage enjoyed throughout Japan in a great number of varieties, and it is also commonly enjoyed worldwide slightly sweetened as imitation crab meat.
Sasakama is a Miyagi variant, made in the shape of bamboo leaves as in the crest of the Date clan of Daimyō who long ruled over the Sendai Domain.
Interestingly, the particular Miyagi style existed from long before known as “tongue” kamaboko or “[tree] leaf” kamaboko or even “palmed” kamaboko. It was only in 1935 that the Abe Kamaboko company realized the resemblance to bamboo leaves and thus the historical connection, and the new moniker quickly gained widespread acceptance.
Celebrating their bamboo shape and to promote them nationwide, Miyagi’s sasakama now has its own day shared with the Star (and bamboo) Festival.
Marking the occasion, a campaign has been launched throughout Miyagi.
At Matsuzawa Kamaboko, a pack of 7 thick sasakama is on sale for ¥777.
And at Abe Kamaboko, a giant sasakama handmade by the plant manager is on display.
photo: Dateuma PR Office
It’s enough to feed a person for 3 months!
The Sendai Astronomical Observatory in the city’s western hills is hosting an event to enjoy sasakama under the stars of the planetarium.
Visitors hear the story of the Star Festival, viewing Vega and Altair across the Milky Way, by legend lovers separated and able to meet only on this special night.
Next they head outside to try to catch the same sight in the night sky.
Unfortunately the early summer monsoons brought uncooperative clouds, but it was a night to enjoy anyhow.
Sasakama is part of the overall story of Tōhoku’s recovery.
In the great 2011 tsunami, the fishing and all related industries were hit badly.
But however dire the situation, they have fought on and refused to give up. Miyagi’s sasakamaboko has a proud tradition that carries on.
With this Sasakama Day contributing to the spirit, eyes are set firmly up and out towards a hopeful future.