Yakiimo-taikai (baked sweet potatoes)

(Submitted on February 29, 2012)

On February 19, 2012, our local community members held an annual event—baking sweet potatoes in an open-air fire at “Izumida-Mukai” park. Traditionally, people set on fire collected fallen leaves in their backyards (even in residential areas), and bake sweet potatoes at the same time.

 

Nowadays, open-air fires are not allowed in urban areas; so baking sweet potatoes outdoors has become a special event, requiring permission from local authorities. This time, one of our community leaders got approval from the fire department for making a fire and from the Aoba ward office for the use of a local park as the venue.

 

Following photographs documented the event.

 

 

Preparing for the baking, using small stones. Around eight bundles of fire wood were burnt. It is said that baking sweet potatoes in this way will make them sweeter, by effectively converting their starch into glucose.

 

The baking in full swing. Actually, potatoes were cooked in microwave ovens the day before by the community members, so it was only necessary to warm them on the spot. We distributed a baked potato and a bottle of green tea to each bystander, whether child or adult, free of charge.

So we did it; it was a smoky day for us, my down jacket and sweater reeked of smoke.

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