Autumn Must Come with “IMONI” Party!

IMG_1967Last Sunday (November 23), I drove about an hour from central Sendai to a spa resort Sakunami to join “Sakunami Onsen Nordic Walking”. Nordic walking, originated from Finland, is an enhancement of ordinary walking with two poles. In Sendai where is blessed with abundant green is called mecca for Nordic walking in Japan as young and old exercise and enjoy the sport.

At 11am, we departed from “Lasanta”, a Sakunami tourist information center. After a delightful nature walk of two hours with instructors, admiring beautiful mountains, clear streams and gorges where colored leaves were scattered, we cooked and tasted “imoni”, taro and vegetable soup, on the river bench for lunch. In Tohoku, “imoni” party is equally popular as hanami (a picnic under the cherry blossoms in spring) and many locals organize gatherings with colleagues, neighbors, or friends who usually occupy riverside areas. Ingredients show regional variation; while ‘miso (beans paste)’ and pork are used in Miyagi, soy sauce and beef are popular in Yamagata. Yet, plenty of taros, vegetables and konjac (jelly-like dumpling made of starch of the konjak) are commonly used to make the perfect soup. Our group followed the Miyagi’s recipe and finished the soup with noodles. Refreshing hot spa followed in the afternoon that made my day – afterward, muscle pain made me fully aware of lack of exercise…

It’s the very best time to admire fall foliage throughout Tohoku. Enjoy colored leaves, hot spas and the tastes of autumn delicacies.