Early Spring

Last week, we had heavy snow in Nara,too.

How tall of the snow on the red plum and the sparkle of ice- diamond on the next day in my garden
  This year, it's snowing heavily  particularly  around the side of Japan Sea. So migratory birds can't get food there and they visit the side of Pacific Ocean for food. At that time they also spread germs of bird-flu,and a lot of chicken in Wakayama prefecture,for example, had to be killed ,I heard. While the number of  human  with  flu in Japan is getting decrease but the amount of patient have a hay-fever will rise dramatically in this spring, according to a newspaper. Please be careful everyone! The cause of hay-fever may be in your garden.

Red plum covered with snow is getting  more flowers day by day

A couple of Hina-doll in my house. I like their Japanese-like face

Flower of peach usually accompanies The dolls'  Festival

 And spring is coming to Nara surely.
The sunrise time became at 6:39 and the sunset is at 17:45 today.
Two weeks ago it was at 6:54 and at 17:31.
The Dolls' Festival( or The Girls' Festival) will come soon.
We decorate Hina-Dolls and wish our daughters' happy or growth. Also we have a party in front of the dolls on 3rd March. The table will spread with Chirashi-Sushi, Hamaguri-clam soup, salad seasoned with vinegar miso and sweet white sake or hina-arare for sweets etc, as usual.

Ichimatu-ningyou . We decorate this together with Hina-dolls.

Kamakurabori was curbed by aunt-in-low before 33 years ago
  And I thought I will add also makarons for sweet this year. Because  I ate pretty colourful makarons  in Paris last Autumn and I wanted to make them on my own.  Happily I happened  to watch  makaron cooking  on TV .

At last I succeeded  makaron have jugged. This indent calls "pie" in French.

So I tried to cook makaron, watching a cooking book.
At  the first, I failed because I mixed dough of makaron too much. I made it too much soft.
At the second,The surface had cracks because I baked them just after I squeezed dough on the oven plate.
At the third, I succeeded at last. I could watch lovely pink makarons.

So let me talk how to cook makaron.

[ ingredient for 20 makarons ]
the white of egg          65g
granulated sugar         25g
almond powder          50g
powder sugar             90g
cocoa powder or soybean flour or powdered green tea or color powder etc you like  .                 a little

Look this thickness. I heard this shop made them at first. Many men made a line to buy them at the shop when I went there. I think men in Japan don't buy such sweet. So I was surprised to see the line.

[how to cook ]
(1)  Whisk egg white by a whip-machine, putting granulate sugar  three times till horn of  form  is made.
(2)  Sift almond powder,powder sugar,cocoa or other you like and enter it into (1) and mix them softly by a rubber spatula and then  make the forms  fine .   Don't do it too much. Lax of dough lead to failure

(3) Enter it into squeeze-bag  with 6mm mouthpiece and squeeze it to a circle 3 cm in diameter on the oven-      paper. And leave it for about 2hours to dry the surface.-----This is a secret of success.

(4) Bake them in the oven 170c  between from 1minute to 4 minutes( till the jagged  bottom(pie)  appear to makaron)

(5) After that, bake it 130c for 18 minutes.

(6) Sandwich  something (choco-ganache or butter cream of green tea or jam etc.) between two.

Makaron shop in Paris. I knew its good taste and many  lovable  colors for the  first time at last Autumn.



Scatter parched beans in cosy Nara

 Setsubun events were held at some places  in Nara city  on 3rd February. Setsubun means the day before of  beginning of spring according to the calendar. When I was a child we pierced a head of sardine by a stick of holly and placed it at entrance and scattered parched beans to avoid evil on the night of that day.

A owner of rice paddy put on a mask of Tamukeyama-hachimangu performed a rice planting event(from web-site)

Setsubun-mantoro at Kasugashine(from web-site)
 I visited Gangoji-temple before going to Todaiji-temple.
A lot of talismans covered with hinoki's leaves were piled in the square at Gangoji-temple and were waiting to be burnt.  And  two Yamabushis, several priests and several holders of Kendo grade surrounded the pile of talismans. Opening performance was introduce their skills  by kendo grade holders.

Some holders of Kendo grade performed

Next, a Yamabushi released an arrow from his bow to five ways for exorcism. The appearance was amusing to us. We expected the arrow would fly highly. But only the first arrow flied over our heads but after that, he pretended to aim at sky and soon released the arrow  on the ground, maybe for safety.

A yamabushi shoot an arrow to some direction

A yamabushi blew a triton to notice the show

the climax of Saitougoma-yamabusis walked on the fire( from web-site)
I've known about "Omizutori at Nigatsu-do in Todaiji-temple. But I didn't know about scatter parched beans at Nigatsu-do in Todaiji-temple.
A lot of people were gathering under Nigatsu-do's balcony. But the number of people can enter in the ground of under Nigatsu-do's balcony was limited and other people couldn't enter in there were waiting in line around Sangatsu-do. The ground of under Nigatsu-do's balcony  is slope.
Before scatter beans, a policeman warned from the balcony of Nigatsu-do "Please don't push other people because if someone injured we can't do this from next year. The number of beans is limited so people waiting in line can get  but people outside can't get, so heed this -especially people around there." This speech evoked audience's laugh.  we were standing outside.

Many people were waiting under the balcony of Nigatsu-do

People who scatter beans on the balcony of Nigatsu-do.  Beans wrapped in paper are flying.
 Scatter beans was over  in only some minutes. When I was taken aback and disappointed at that shortness, a good luck came down.  Some people who scattered beans  came down to us from the balcony with beans,bells,breads,peanuts etc. Many people around me gathered round those distributors to get beans. I thought I can't get anything but a young woman in front of me turned around to me and handed a bell to me. " I could get two bells so I want to give you  one of two." she said.
"Thank you very much." I didn't expect things like that. I was surprised to her honesty.
I should have finished up to get something at this point. But What a greedy person I was compare to her! Another distributor came near me and I got two bags of beans and four bells. So I wanted more good luck or happiness.

I got these bells ,a bags of peanut and beans at Nigatsu-do
 This time, I discovered cosiness of Nara that is  maybe not sophisticated but warm. For funny speech, amusing performance, honest person, conscientious distributor, culture surrounded by big scale temples,gradual slop and so blue sky.
On that day some event of Setsubun were held in Nara.

A red demon and a blue demon at Tsuinasiki of Kofukuji-temple(from web-site)