Nihon Matsuri Salt Lake City 2018

Okay, hibernation over! A few weekends ago Mr. Forkful and I jumped into full-blown Spring mode at this year’s Nihon Matsuri in Salt Lake City. Something thawed inside and I was a little less heartsick for Florida. Pops of color were everywhere—on nobori, kimonos, umbrellas—just everywhere.

Taiko drums thundered from the stage; Taikoza performed selections from their Kodama album, which included custom pieces by their sensei. Memories flashed with each beat. Japan. Sakura. EPCOT. Utah. Each moment bringing me back to the present, steps closer to feeling more at home.

We waded into the politest festival crowd I’ve ever seen Stateside. People just organically moved by each other along the food and gift vendors. Buddhist literature, custom hiragana calligraphy, silk textiles—then, we spired some takoyaki across the way! So Mr. Forkful and I beelined with a mission and we were not disappointed.

Crispy and fluffy with sweet barbecue sauce—like the ones from a stand near Takeshita-dori complete with tangy mayo, scallions, and dancing bonito (dried fermented fish) flakes. I was smiling on the outside but all YAAASSS on the inside! We also shared a side of fresh potato croquette and umeboshi onigiri.

Mr. Forkul and I also waited in a hefty line for snow cream shaved ice—almost like Vietnamese pat bing su topped with fruit, sweet adzuki beans, mochi, and wafers. But! It was not meant to be. The power went down moments before we could place our order and no more shaved ice. They even had popping boba flavor combos like mango, lychee, and green melon. We promised ourselves we’d quest to Shirokuma Snow Cream’s brick-and-mortar later for a thorough nomming later.

We skirted past cosplayers and into the Lumbini’s Garden, Salt Lake Buddhist Temple’s first bookstore. Sure, there were Sanrio, Ghibli, and maneki-neko but there were traditional tea sets, kimono accessories, and incense sets too. Maneki-neko in-hand, Mr. Forkful and I hung back near the Buddhist temple entrance. I took a breath, decided this was a beautiful day in Utah, and took a detour through Temple Square on the way home. Because Spring.