[TOKYO] Mitama Matsuri: 30,000 lanterns and food stalls

Mitama matsuri 2013 4

Mitama matsuri 2013 - dancers

Dear Food Diary:
For 4 nights each year, Tokyoites are mesmerized by 30,ooo lanterns lighting up the Yasukuni Shrine for Mitama Matsuri.

The  obon festival actually honors the dead, but with the mix of traditional dances, lights and food stalls, it was one of the liveliest nights I’ve had in Tokyo.

Mitama matsuri 2013
One of the most amazing festivals I’ve ever been to. Loved seeing couples dressed up in traditional attire, so kawaii.

 

Before we get into the food, here are some of the traditional dancers

 

The endless sea of food stalls (and people)

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - summer festival in Tokyo - food stalls

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - summer festival in Tokyo - food stalls - vendors
So many choices, but the lines were insane… and even during the evening, summer in Tokyo is a hot mess…

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - Eats 5
Classic street food Takoyaki, aka sweet savory pancake balls with octopus.
Mitama Matsuri 2013 - Eats 7
This version came with a surprise quail egg in the center. Soft, gooey center, creamy mayo, sweet sauce, bonito and seaweed flakes. It just works.

 

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - Eats 4

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - Eats
Mitama Matsuri 2013 - Eats 2
These okonomiyaki like pancakes were enhanced by that huge chunk of pork belly!

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - Eats 3

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - Eats 6
Similar to the takoyaki, but filled with crunchy cabbage and oh that pork flavor throughout. Crispy edges, soft center. Sweet, tart and creamy. And did I mention pork belly? I wish this type of pancake would be served for brunch in NYC!

 

Now to the visual treat…

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - summer festival in Tokyo

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - summer festival in Tokyo 3

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - summer festival in Tokyo 2

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - summer festival in Tokyo - lanterns lights 2

Mitama matsuri 2013 - Yasukuni Shrine - Tokyo

Mitama Matsuri 2013 - summer festival in Tokyo - lanterns lights

Mitama matsuri 2013 - Yasukuni Shrine - Tokyo 3

Mitama matsuri 2013 - Yasukuni Shrine - Tokyo - dancers

The dancers payed their respects at the shrine while drums played in the background.

If you’re ever in Tokyo during summer, check if the festival is going on. Not to be missed.