Mitarashi dango Kyoto


Mitarashi Dango .. Dumplings

***** Location: Japan, Kyoto
***** Season: Late Summer
***** Category: Humanity


mitarashi dango 御手洗団子(みたらしだんご)
rice dumplings

These dumplings are eaten at the Mitarashi festival (Mitarashi-E 御手洗会(みたらしえ)) of Shrine Shimogamo Jinja in Kyoto 京都の下鴨神社.

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visiting for the Mitarashi festival, mitarashi moode
御手洗詣 みたらしもうで
Tadasu no suzumi 糺の納涼(ただすのすずみ)
coolness of the Tadasu forest

Shimogamo no misogi 下賀茂の御祓 (しもがものみそぎ)
purification rituals 下鴨の御祓(しもがものみそぎ)

Mitarashi Matsuri, Mitarashi Festival is another name.
On the day before Autumn starts in August.

This is one of the many "harae" purification ceremonies, purifying the body from the ban influences of the past six months and praying for good fortune in the coming six months.

The details of this kind of ceremony are here
Summer Purification Ceremony (nagoshi, harae, misogi and more) .
The shrines of Kamo and Shimogamo Jinja have played a very important role for Kyoto and its water suppy.

. temizuya 手水舎 purification font for hands - mitarashi 御手洗 .

In this article, I will concentrate on the dumplings.

mitarashi "honorable washing of hands" is now also the general name of the water basin at the entrance to a shrine or temple, where you rinse your hands and mouth for purification. The name probably comes from the form of the bubbles produced when washing your hands at this basin.

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Mitarashi area at Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto

The dumplings made as offerings to the gods are in the colors white, red and green. They are the origin of the mitarashi dango which are now sold in many places of Japan. Usually there are three on a stick of dango dumplings, but these ones come as five on a stick.

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Various types of other mitarashi dango


Japanese have been eating dango since the Jomon period, many prepared from nuts of the forest, which they pounded to flower and mixed with gruel to survive in wintertimes. Later the flower of grains was also mixed into dumplings.

Since the Muromachi period, dumplings were put on sticks, in the 16th centure five dumplings on a stick were the rule. Since the Edo period, they became even more popular, hana yori dango, to enjoy the dumplings more than the cherry blossoms, is a common saying. Since 1760, one stick contained only four dumplings.

For the Aoi Festival and the Mitarashi Festival at Shimogamo shrine, people bring these dumplings as an offering for the gods.
Legend knows this:
When Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339)came here to worship and took out some water to purify his hands, one big bubble came up first and then four others followed. He interpreted these bubbles as the human body (go tai 五体) and thus four dumplings and one smaller one on the top became a special offering at this shrine for purification purposes. After offering them to the gods, people would take them home, grill them a bit over fire and add some soy sauce for flavoring and eat them in the hope for good luck.

In the Kanto area there were four small dumplings on a stick, layed out in the form of a fan using 10 sticks on a plate. The present form dates to the Taisho period, when the habit of one tea shop owner from the shrine area became standard, putting soy sauce and some sugar over the dumplings. Now people in Kyoto and Kansai think of these dumplings as a sweet snack, especially eaten in summer. In the Kanto area, the dumplings are usually simply round and of the same size, whereas in Kansai they can be oblong.

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There is also a kind of famous mitarashi dango in the town of Takayama in Gifu prefecture. They are grilled with soy sauce only and therefore not sweet at all.
They might have come from the Shimogamo tradition before the Taisho period when sweet dumplings were not favored in this area.

Nowadays the round dumplings are mostly made by maschines and all of the same size. To produce dumplings of different sizes is more exensive, so usually they are all similar nowadays, when you buy them in supermarkets and sweets shops.

Some shops around Shimgamo Shrine still make the five ones by hand.


Other kinds of DANGO dumplings

kushidango 串だんご / くし団子 dumplings on skewers
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
They are usually served with a sweet sauce.


Dango 団子 is a Japanese dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour), related to mochi. It is often served with green tea.

Dango are eaten year-round, but the different varieties are traditionally eaten in given seasons. Three to four dango are often served on a skewer. One variety of dango from Hokkaidō is made from potato flour and baked with shoyu (soy sauce).

Types of dango
There are many different varieties of dango which are usually named after the various seasonings served on or with it. [1]

Anko: Commonly known as (sweetened) red bean paste, while ingredients other than azuki are used on rare occasions. An-Dango is the most popular flavor in Japan.
Bocchan dango: Dango that has three colors. One is colored by red beans, the second by eggs, and the third by green tea.
Chichi dango: Slightly-sweet light treats usually eaten as a dessert.
Hanami dango: Also has three colors, Hanami dango is traditionally made during Sakura-viewing season. Hence the name Hanami (Hana meaning flower, and mi meaning to see).
Goma: sesame seeds. It is both sweet and salty.
Kinako: A toasted soy flour.
Kushi dango: Dangos held by a skewer
Mitarashi: A syrup made from shouyu (soy sauce), sugar and starch.
Teppanyaki: Dango on a skewer with a tangy teppanyaki taste.

In 1999, dango experienced a surge of popularity in Japan following the release of a song entitled "Dango san kyōdai" (three dango brothers). The CD single sold over 2.9 million copies, making it the 4th best selling CD single in Japan during 1968-2006.
In the extremely popular Japanese film series Otoko wa Tsurai yo, the family of lead character Kuruma Torajirō (Tora-san) operated a small traditional dango shop in Shibamata, Katsushika, Tokyo.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Worldwide use

Mitarashi Reismehl-Bällchen

Things found on the way

Shrine Shimogamo Jinja
Gods worshipped here Kamo Taketsu-no-mikoto, father of the princess
Tamayori-hime-no-mikoto, who became pregnant by a mysterious arrow floating down the river and gave birth to Wake-ikazuchi-no-kami.
The Kamigamo Shrine is in his honor, Kamowake-ikazuchi Shrine.
These two gods, grandfather and grandchild, mi-oya, mioya, are the tutelary deities of the Kamo clan.
The shrines were errected to protect the capital, which then moved on to Heiankyo.
It is the protector shrine of the forest Tadasu no mori 糺の森, where two rivers meet, the Kamogawa 賀茂川 and the Takanogawa 高野川. Many kiri zelkova and kusu camphor trees grow here. The god Kamo Taketsu no Mikoto, who came here to pass a judgement (tadasu) for a disput of the local residents.
The Aoi Festival is the most famous of this shrine complex.
More elsewhere.

Shimogamo Shrine Arrow Ceremony, yatori shinji

First Kick-Ball Game (mari hajime)
The first game takes place on January 4 at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto.
kigo for the New Year

fresh clear water !


The Christian connection of the Mitarashi - a Christian baptism?

. The Hata Clan 秦氏 Hata Uji .
and the Christian connection


hana yori mo dango ya arite kaeri kari

better eating dumplings
than watching cherry blossoms -
geese flying home

Matsunaga Teitoku 松永貞徳 (1571-1653)
Tr. Gabi Greve

Related words

***** WAGASHI ... Sweets SAIJIKI

***** WASHOKU : Regional Japanese Dishes

. DANGO as kigo for all seasons

Saijiki of
Japanese Festivals, Events and Ceremonies

Shimokamo shrine - #mitarashidango -




Gabi Greve said...


mitarashi ya sumi-sutete aru nochi no tsuki

purification font--
thrown in a corner
the Ninth Month moon

The font holds water for hand-washing purification at a shrine--and a reflection of the full moon of Ninth Month, 13th day. In the old calendar, there were two harvest moons: the 15th day of Eighth Month (this is the more important meigetsu) and the 13th day of Ninth Month.

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

Musashi Ichi no Miya kan ake no kushi dango

shrine Musashi
Ichi no Miya - end of the cold
and dumplings on skewers

Kawamura Masako 川村正子

Musashi Ichi no Miya 武蔵一の宮 - Hikawa Jinja 氷川神社

Anonymous said...

Momo Man 江戸清 桃まん

Peach Manju Dango