currently: listening to 'Love Song' by Ladyhawke
After loving last year's Japan Day at Auckland's Cloud and Shed 10, this year I just had to return. The weather almost deterred me, and it did put a damper on the outdoor events... but Japan Day definitely outdid its efforts and put on an amazing festival.
With more to see, to eat and to do, Cloud and Shed 10 were used to its full advantage to show off everything there is to love about Japan, and to love about the multicultural city of Auckland.
While the outdoor stalls struggled a little due to the weather, Shed 10 was bustling with warmth and some of my favourite stalls. Boyfriend, who came again with me this year, was immediately taken straight to the Judge Bao stall who had created a special and delicious Japan Day menu for one day only. Judge Bao had mixed up their typical Chinese bao (steamed bread) buns into beautifully Japanese themed dishes.
We continued down our path of alternative Japanese fusion food that you could only find in Auckland with another favourite stall of mine - Coreano. Korean Mexican fusion, Boyfriend selected their famous Kimchi Fries which did hit the spot (and gave us a bit of needed heat). Paired that with a cheese crab deep fried stick - that was enough to have us very satisfied for lunch.
We walked around many of the stalls and showcases in The Cloud, which featured Japanese businesses, calligraphy, floral arrangements, and a stage that was showing Aidiko karate. However, this time Boyfriend was captivated by a $5 mini-seminar on Japanese tea that we decided to sit in for a session. While the noisy Cloud made it a bit difficult to hear what was being said, what we did catch was fascinating as the tea expert talked about Japanese claypots and the technique of brewing. Brew Japanese's sencha tea too hot - it's bitter. Brew it just right for the right amount of time and it can taste very sweet. Boyfriend and I got to even try pouring tea ourselves as we tried Matcha Gemaicha (which I loved) and Houjicha (which Boyfriend loved the roasted smell of.) We'll probably be tea-pouring pros now next time we're in a restaurant.
While many regular stalls were there, like the giant mochi rice pounding and the ice sculpture, what was new this year was the entire top floor of Shed 10 they opened up to become a mini market. Filled with kawaii cushions and anime toys around the walls of the stall, in the centre was a surprise stage for karaoke. At least I could only assume karaoke. One Japanese exchange student, who said it was her first day in Auckland, sang some Anime theme song sounding track that everyone around us seemed to know the words to... But she was super cute and very entertaining as she stood to try and have someone take a photo of her in front of the crowd. You can only find that sort of excitement level adorable.
After taking more photos and standing dorky in front of a Japanese backdrop, we bought our final food for our day - obanyaki in red bean, custard and coconut flavours. The perfect comforting finish to a delicious, educational and fun day amongst the Japanese culture.