Sasa Dango and Chimaki/笹だんご、ちまき

Japanese Food

Sasa dango (dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves) are a specialty of the Niigata region. In the supermarket I frequent, a special section for the ingredients of sasa dango is set up around this time of year.

I don’t know how to make sasa dango from scratch, so I buy premade ones. Today, I bought ten of them (right), together with ten chimaki (left), as requested by my wife.

Sasa dango (bottom) and chimaki (top):

One sasa dango is wrapped in two bamboo leaves with one long (approx. 90 cm) piece of string (suge or igusa).
笹だんご1個は、2枚の笹に、長い(約90 cm)1本のひも(スゲかイグサ)で包まっています。

The dango is mochi with mugwort, with tsubu an filling.

One chimaki is wrapped in two bamboo leaves with two shorter pieces of string.

Mochi (glutinous) rice inside:

Chimaki are eaten with a mixture of kinako (roasted soybean powder) and sugar (and a pinch of salt).

Chimaki are usually eaten on Tango no Sekku (Boys’ Day), i.e., May 5.

Note: In Kanto (Eastern Japan), where I was born and bred, kashiwa mochi (mochi wrapped in an oak leaf) are usually eaten on Tango no Sekku, whereas in Kansai (Western Japan), chimaki are usually eaten. Here in Niigata, chimaki are more popular.
Sasa dango are also associated with Tango no Sekku, but are now eaten all year round.
注: 私が生まれ育った関東では、柏餅を端午の節句に食べますが、関西では、ちまきを食べます。新潟では、ちまきのほうが一般的です。

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