Wednesday, November 17, 2010

autumn leaves

Now is the best time to view autumn leaves in Hakone or the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, and many viewing spots in Kyoto are also now at their peak. They are crowded with people enjoying autumn leaves.

足引きの 山行きしかば 山人の われに得しめし 山つとそこれ  (元正天皇,「万葉集」)
"When going to the mountain, a mountain man gave me this poem as a souvenir", written by the Emperor Gensho(680-748) in "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves".
Yamazuto(山苞) means a souvenir from the mountain. I learned the words "Yamazuto" from a confection's name. The words appear in the above waka poem and the 10th chapter of "The Tale of Genji". Hikaru Genji sends the empress a branch with colored maple leaves as a souvenir from the mountain.
at Kifune(貴船)

 秋山の 黄葉を茂み 迷ひぬる 妹を求めむ 山道知らずも  (柿本人麻呂,「万葉集」)
"Trees ablaze with autumn colors were too rank in the mountain, so my wife lost her way, I want to go looking for her, but I am unfamiliar with the mountain path", written by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro(c.662-710) in "Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves".
Actually, his wife has long been dead and buried in the mountain named Hikite no Yama. So she can't return home, and he can never see her again.

Even at night, many viewing spots including Kiyomizu-dera are illuminated.









Photos :KYOTOdesign
(Japanese version only)


Originally karanishiki means Chinese colorful silk fabric. It also came to mean beautiful autumn leaves.
There are various confections named Karanishiki. This confection contains chesnuts with their astringent skins preserved in syrup.


This confection is a standard souvenir from Kyoto.
Some people say its name derives from Yatsuhashi Kengyo(八橋検校,1614-1685), who was an outstanding koto(Japanese harp)  player and composer. He established the modern koto music. Kengyo(検校) was the highest rank in the visually impaired and was of high social standing.

According to a theory, its name comes from the bridge made by combining eight boards in Yatsuhashi(now Aichi Prefecture), where Ariwara no Narihira(在原業平) who is the hero of "The Tales of Ise" makes a famous poem about kakitsubata(Rabbit-Ear Iris).

Yatsuhashi(八ッ橋) is a cracker in the shape of koto(Japanese harp).  Its dough is made by steaming a mixture of rice powder, sugar, cinnamon and water. Nama-yatsuhashi is sweet bean paste containing unground beans wrapped in the dough. Yatsuhashi is made by baking the dough.


  1. Thank you so much for all the great information about wagashi, I´m from Germany and have a wagashi blog(in German).
    I have few wagashi books, but mostly with recipes.
    Please keep up your great work!
    Such informations are not easy to find, mostly only in Japanese.


  2. Thanks for the encouragement.
    I saw your blog. I was amazed at "umeboshi dressing". I'm impressed!
    Most Japanese-style confections are closely-linked to seasons or seasonal events.