Olive Magazine

10 things I love about ashikaga, japan

I was born in Saitama city, not far from Tokyo, but I spent my childhood in Ashikaga, a city two hours from the capital. It is also known as ‘East-Kyoto’ and ‘North-Kamakura’, as several hundred years ago it was one of Japan’s most important cities. It remains the location of beautiful, historical buildings, temples and shrines. It’s surrounded by some incredible areas of natural beauty. It is in Ashikaga where I can recall my best childhood memories – I spent a lot of time in the mountains, where we would catch river crabs and fish before cooking them over an open fire.

1 Festival food

Festivals are very important to the people of Ashikaga, which typically take place in temples and shrines. My favourites are , a fireworks festival which happens on the first Saturday in August close to the river Watarase, made even more special by the reflections cast on the water. Here you’ll find traditional foodfestival on New Year’s Eve. Batou means ‘curse’, and the premise is that one is encouraged to put all bad things behind them at the end of the calendar year by cursing loudly from the top of a mountain. As you can imagine, this sounds ridiculous, but it is such fun to see hundreds of people together cursing like mad. It is a Japanese tradition to have soba noodles at the end of the year, symbolic of a long and peaceful life and relationships. My favourite is on top.

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