Sai Sai Jaran Jaran is an official series here on MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON where the members of all-female band SILEN SIREN leave it to their curiosity to visit different hot spots in Japan. From this second installment onwards, the members will each individually visit the places they’re interested in going.
Our top batter for #2 is the band’s leader and drummer, Hinanchu. She was born in Tokyo, but she realised there are so many streets in the capital she has never visited before. So she took it upon herself to head to Tsukishima which is somewhere not that familiar to her.
The first stop she happened upon was Sumiyoshi Shrine. Going to shrines is a regular hobby for Hinanchu; when the band heads on tour in Japan, she finds herself visiting shrines of each region as a morning activity. Sumiyoshi Shrine is located in Tsukudajima which is within walking distance of Tsukishima.
Being located in Tsukudajima―which is known as the birthplace of tsukudani, or food boiled down in soy―the shrine was situated at the entrance of a port during the Edo Period. It gained faith amongst many people including those in the shipping industry and wholesale stores associated with them as a holy place for security and protection at sea.
Whenever Hinanchu goes to a shrine she always collections a goshuin shrine stamp for her goshuincho stamp book which she brought on this visit too!
Her stamp book began at Ise Grand Shrine which she visited with her spirituality fortune-teller friend CHIE. She collected two stamps on this trip: one for Sumiyoshi Shrine and one for Ryuu Shrine which was in close proximity.
Hinanchu never fails to get herself an omikuji when she goes to a shrine, which are strips of paper that tell your fortune. “It’s good to pray for what you wish for when opening an omikuji,” she kindly taught us.
Right now, she’s thinking of moving house, so she asked the question in her mind whether it’s a good idea to move or not while opening her fortune.
Her result was chu-kichi, or ‘Middle Blessing,’ which is only one off the highest good fortune. Regarding whether to move or not, the fortune gave her a subtle answer: she can if she likes but there’s no rush. Perhaps it’s not time to move yet?
After finishing up at the shrine, the next place on the list was Tsukishima Monja Street. Tsukishima has a staggering 75 shops serving monja (also monjayaki), which is a pan-fried batter made with various ingredients.
The restaurant Hinanchu stopped by was Okame Hyottoko. Okame are popular monja makers, boasting three shops in Tsukishima. They order in fresh ingredients from markets and serve up classic monja and monja with a twist.
Sauces and mayonnaise aren’t Hinanchu’s strong point. Although she was born in Tokyo, she’s very rarely eaten monja before. Her aim on this trip is to become able to explain to people exactly what monja is all about!
She begins making her monja.
She ordered the ‘Mochi Mentaiko’ (¥1,400). When cooking monja, you first lay out your ingredients on the iron plate and then chop up the vegetables with spatulas. “I bet people skilled at making monja are popular,” she comments. You’re plenty popular!
After spreading the ingredients out into a round shape, you form a well in the middle and pour in your batter. Hinanchu performed skillfully without ripping the well! Next, you fry it as it is, and once it’s browned you’re done.
Add cheese to make it stringy. Delicious♡
She also had fun challenging herself to frying the ‘Mix Ten’ okonomiyaki (¥1,100). It’s quite a skill to execute.
They also have Salted Beef Ribs (¥1,200) and Beef Tan Butter (¥1,200) on the teppanyaki menu too.
Meat is Hinanchu’s favourite kind of food, so she was very excited!
Okame cater to customers from around the world with their multilingual menus. You can get a menu in English, Chinese, Korean, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian. They even have free Wi-Fi which travelers and tourists in Japan will be happy with.
Hinanchu was very satisfied getting to eat so much! So, can you explain what monja are now?
“Monja is a food to make with people in a circle and add ingredients you want to eat. It was a wonderful dish that will have you getting along with someone through that joint-effort!”
“Tsukishima is a town I haven’t visited that much even though I live in Tokyo. When my foreign friends come I want to take them there!” exclaims Hinanchu. The Tsukishima trip ended with much satisfaction and a full belly.
Look forward to the next installment of Sai Sai Jaran Jaran. Which member will it be next and where will they be going?
SILENT SIREN is a four-member all-female band consisting of vocalist & guitarist Sumire “Suu” Yoshida, drummer Hinako “Hinanchu” Umemura, bassist Aina “Ainyan” Yamauchi, keyboardist Yukako “Yukarun” Kurosaka. The band were founded in 2010 by Umemura and Yoshida who are former models. In 2015, they performed their first solo concert at Nippon Budokan, making them the fastest Japanese all-female band in history to perform there after their major debut. Their album GIRLS POWER is selling to huge success. For the latest information, head on over to their official website: http://silent-siren.com/
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