As the weather gets colder, there is a continued abundance of fresh cuisine on Sado. This is when Okesa kaki (persimmon) and apples are harvested. Today, you can still see strings of dried kaki hanging from the eaves of houses. While famous for its rice, Sado is less well-known for producing soba (buckwheat noodles) of an equally high quality. This soba, made with new 100 per cent buckwheat flour, and containing no filler, is simple and delicious. The first catches of tasty crab and prawn also appear around this time. Whatever your fancy, on Sado you can appreciate the different tastes of each season. Winter in particular is a good time to experience this richness and variety of cuisine.
Since all the gods throughout Japan go off to Izumo during the tenth month of the lunar calendar, it is Ebisu who looks after the house while they are gone. Ebisuko is an event dedicated to Ebisu. Originally the god of fishermen, Ebisu became one of the seven lucky gods as the god of commerce, and now has a cult as the god who brings good fortune. The whole town is in commotion on November 20 as markets are set up. In the Ogi district, soba noodles are made with new buckwheat flour from this day onwards and their fragrance is delightful. Soba made with new flour and radishes split at the tip are offered before the altar.
New soba (buck- wheat noodle)
Sado, more famous for rice, also has excellent soba. Sado soba, where Juwari soba noodles are eaten with flying fish broth, has a strong fragrance and deliciously simple taste. Soba made from new buckwheat flour, which starts to be used in late autumn, is particularly special, a luxury which can be enjoyed only at this time of year. Rather than dipping the noodles into sauce, the Sado way is to pour broth over them.
After spring, it is in the harvest season of autumn that entertainments flourish. The traditional autumn festival is a rare feast of majestic tradition, complete with demon drums (onidaiko) , great lions, Takami lions, lion cub dances, ancient Shinto music and dancing (chitochinton) , large paper lanterns on poles, a procession bearing the god's palanquin (mikoshi) to the shrine, dancing in bird headgear and scattering beans (mamemaki) .
Sado, with a long and vigorous tradition of cattle farming, is the leading producer of Japanese Black calves for the highest quality beef. Every year, calves sold at the cattle market, Murakami cows from Niigata's Japanese herds and hida cows, consolidate their excellent reputation as deluxe brands of beef. Since the buyers come from outside the island and even outside Niigata Prefecture, cattle market day is also the day when families who have tended the calves so carefully must say goodbye to them.
Hamochi Big Market
This was originally a year-end market set up at the end of the Shogunate for people who come to pay their annual rice tax in kind at the magistrate's office store. There are at least sixty shops in the streets of Hamochihongo selling miscellaneous goods and bamboo articles.
These are made all over the island at New Year. Shapes are cut out of the paper to make patterns according to the special traditions of each family. Nowadays most families purchase their streamers. Also called hakama papers, after men's traditional divided skirts, in the old days people put on their best clothes to perform the task of making streamers.