Novi Japan Festival (Michigan)

This year (2017) was our family’s first year going to the Novi Japan Festival. If you missed it this year, it’s usually held on the first Sunday in October from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Admission to the event is free, but some of the food and attractions are a small fee. You can tell a lot of work goes into making this event possible and enjoyable, and the folks who put forth the effort do a wonderful job!

Some of the events this year included wagashi making (Japanese sweets), origami, chopstick rubberband shooters, two types of tea ceremonies, Taiko drums and other traditional Japanese musical performances, a ball toss game (with candy for a prize) and my children’s favorite: wanage, which is a ring toss game where you get 3-4 rings for $1.00 and try to hit candy with your rings to win it. My kids scored a TON of great Japanese candy. Just be warned: the lines can be quite long at times for this one-but it’s well worth.

There were also a few beautiful kimono on display, which my daughter insisted having her picture next to. So cute! 🙂

IMG_7612

There was a large number of Japanese speaking people, so this event is also a great time to try some Japanese speaking practice. And most of the signs had both English and Japanese, so you can put your reading skills to the test as well.

Overall, our family had a great time. The event was just the right length to keep the family entertained, but not burnt out. I was even able to catch up with some of the new friends I made during my Michigan-Shiga Sister State Goodwill trip.

A side note for mamas with special needs or sensory sensitive little ones: The main area was crowded most of the time, which may difficult for some children. The cafeteria area was less quiet and noisy, and a good place for taking a short sensory break.

LOCATION: Novi High School -24062 Taft Road Novi, MI 48375. There was plenty of room for parking (which is free) when we went, and everything was handicap accessible as well. As I mentioned, the event is a bit crowded at times, but everyone was incredibly courteous in the lines and what-not, so I’m sure folks would be accommodating to individuals with wheelchairs, etc.

COST: Admission is free, some of the games and activities were around $1.00, food at food court was between $6 – $7 and the drinks were between $1-$2 (takoyaki, yakisoba, ramune, sushi, water, tea). If your kids don’t Japanese food, you might want to eat before or after the event to avoid meltdowns or food drama. (click HERE for restaurants near Novi High School)

 

Perhaps we’ll see you at the Novi Japan Festival next year! If so, stop by and say, “konnichiwa!”  😉

 

Shiga Shar

Advertisements

79 Days Until My Japan Trip

79 days left until my Japan trip.

The realty of the trip sank in a bit deeper about 10 days when when I received the itinerary and flight information for the trip in my inbox. The itinerary is incredible. Temples, a ninja village, a sake brewery, shopping, museums, and more.

This is pretty much how I looked after I read through the info.

steve martin cry

No joke.

Next week I’m applying for my passport, which I’m sure will also make me cry.

Part of me is scared something is going to happen and I won’t be able to go. It’s been an insane few weeks personally, and it appears the insanity won’t be ending any time before my trip. I hope that things get a bit more sorted out before I have to leave so my husband and kids will be okay without me for 10 days.

For now, I’m going to do my best to be positive and take one day at a time.

 

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

Instagram

Facebook

 

I also write on this blog HERE.

 

 

Saginaw Asian Markets Mother’s Day Haul

Part of my treat for Mother’s Day weekend included a trip to the Asian grocery stores in Saginaw, Asian Market and Far East Market.  These are my happy places.

I like them both equally, so don’t make me pick a favorite. You’re not going to find a lot of English on packages, so sometimes you’ll have to buy things at your own risk. I may not know a lot of Japanese yet, but I know enough to recognize it on the packaging and get a decent idea of what the contents inside. The owners at both places don’t know much English, but seem happy to help if you have any questions.

asian marketFar East Market

In my experience, the folks in both stores are super friendly and helpful. The Far East Market is a bit small and crowded with merchandise, but it’s clean and relatively organized. You’ve really got to visit both stores if you visit. They do share some similar items, but I always find neat things to try (or just look at) at each of them.

On to the goods!

Anpan あんパン

Anpan is a baked sweet bread with sweetened red bean paste (あんこ anko). This popular Japanese treat even has a mascot with a picture book series and anime: Anpanman.

anpanman

This anpan came shipped in from 168 Asian, which is the largest Asian market in Michigan, located in Madison Heights, MI (Detroit area). I’ve never been there (yet).  I scored this baby at the checkout area of Asian Market. It had no other label on it other than a plastic baked goods bag with 168 Asian written on it red letters. I only knew what it was from drooling over them on the Internet.

The bean paste is lightly sweetened and on the chunky side (which I like), and the bread was a super soft, fluffy dough with a nice sweet eggy flavor. It’s hard to tell from the image, but this baby was just about the size of a side salad plate. Delicious and filling.

IMG_5497

IMG_5498

Kit Kat  キットカット

I can’t eat American Kit Kat bars since they’ve added PGPR, which gives me migrane-like headaches. I scored the matcha flavor from Asian Mart and the Sakura/Milk Chocolate blend and the Butter Cookie at Far East Market. The Butter Cookie is actually the “bakeable” Kit Kat type, where you toast in the toaster over before eating it.

IMG_5509

IMG_5505

IMG_5504

Bonito Flakes ぼにと

Bonito flakes are made from a dried and smoked type of tuna fish. I’ve never tried it yet, but can’t wait!!!! It’s a savory, smoky, umami packed addition with versatile uses in Japanese cooking.

IMG_5501

Vegetables やさい

I bought purple sweet potatoes and baby bok choy. I plan on stir frying the baby bok choy with some tofu and other goodies. I’m thinking of some kind roasting the purple sweet potato with some kind of sweet miso flavored sauce.

IMG_5507

IMG_5510

Mochi Ice Cream もちアイス

img_5508.jpg

Matcha Flavored Snack Sticks

IMG_5506

Baked Rice Crackers

IMG_5503

I mostly grabbed this last bag of treats because the packaging was adorable. What can I say, I’m a sucker for kawaii packaging.

If you ever get the chance, you should check out the Asian markets in Saginaw.

Thanks for reading!

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal.

ありがとう // Arigatou // Thank you!

LET’S CONNECT AT THESE PLACES TOO  🙂

Instagram

Facebook

Lake Biwa (琵琶湖), Japan’s “Michigan” Paddleboat

michigan boat
The “Michigan” paddlebaot (image from the go.biwako webiste)

 

Shiga Prefecture is home to Japan’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Biwa (琵琶湖). The lake takes up about 1/6 of Shiga, Japan, and according to wikitravel, the lake most likely gets its name from the Japanese stringed instrument biwa, which the lake’s shape resembles.

Back when Michigan and Shiga agreed to their sister state relationship back in 1968, an American style paddleboat was given the name “Michigan” to commemorate the newly made ties. Visitors can take a “Michigan Cruise” on the paddleboat, where they can choose from a from 60, 90, or 150 minutes cruise with music, a variety of foods, and an unforgettable tour of Lake Biwa. There’s also a sky deck for the ultimate Lake Biwa viewing experience.

According to the Welcome to Kyoto website, the cost to ride the “Michigan” is 2,000 Yen, which is a little less than $20 USD.  I’m guessing the longer rides cost more than that, but since my Japanese is still poor, I had a difficult time finding that information.

You can click HERE to read about one visitor’s experience, including some nice photographs taken while on the boat.

Lake Biwa is also home to one of the greatest fireworks displays in Japan known as Biwako Dai-Hanabi Taikai or “the festival of great fireworks,” which happens in early August. Over 10,000 fireworks are shot off during this magnificent pyrotechnic display. You can read more about it HERE.

FYI, hanabi taikai (花火大会)  means fireworks, sometimes a contest involving fireworks.

 

See you later! またね! (mata ne!)

Shiga Shar

If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please share it on social media and consider donating a few bucks toward my 2017 Goodwill trip to Shiga through PayPal. Arigato/Thank you!

 

Helpful Links: 

Travel Guide of Shiga, Prefecture, Japan: http://www.biwakokisen.co.jp/en/

Colorful Cruising on Japan’s Lake Biwa: http://www.martinpro.com/casestory/casestory.asp?id=747

Lake Biwahttps://www.ana-cooljapan.com/destinations/shiga/lakebiwa