Hanayome Noren Museum
We spent day six in the town of Nanao in Ishikawa Prefecture. Nanao is well known in the region for its Seihakusai Matsuri, where huge 20-ton floats called Dekayama are pushed through the city. But, the city offers several opportunities to educate yourself on traditional Japan. And our first stop on this education tour is at the Hanayome Noren Museum.
Traditionally, the wedding ceremony was held at home, so bridal noren were displayed. The curtain was put in front of the room with the butsudan. The noren were displayed only one week after the wedding and then put away forever. A group of female entrepreneurs on Ipponsugi Dori, however, had the idea to start displaying the bridal curtains during Golden Week, showcasing these one-of-a-kind noren in public. The museum is a great way to see these historical crafts and guests can even dress in traditional wedding garb to take memorable pictures.
Kitajima-ya Tea House
Along the Dragon Route, there's just as much to do as there is to see. And our next adventure led to us to a shop called Kitajimaya, also on Ipponsugi Dori, where we met the gentle Kitabayashi-san who guided us through the entire tea ceremony, from turning the leaves into powder to drinking it properly.
After a quick demonstration from our tea sensei, Greg from Chopsticks NY gives grinding tea leaves a go.
The freshly powdered tea is combined with hot water and whisked vigorously to make a delicious matcha. We went through the classical ritual of turning the bowl before drinking as well as having a sugary snack before drinking. The very last sip is slurped loudly as a sign of appreciation, and we very much appreciated the tasty tea and the fantastic lesson.
Check out the process, from grinding to sipping, above.
After enjoying our tea, we made our way to Torii Shoyuten, which claims to be the world’s smallest soy sauce maker. The shop opened its doors in 1925 and the current owner, Torii-san, showed us how she makes the family's soy sauce by hand, before letting us have a turn squeezing out some soy sauce. Her sweet daughter was on hand to help as well and we can only wonder if she will continue as the fourth-generation of the family-owned shop.
Here, she shows us how she presses the soy sauce through linen sacks. The small batch soy sauce she produces is made with soy and flour from the area. Everything here is done by hand and it takes two years to make her family's special soy sauce, including pasteurization after pressing and storage for aging the flavor.