Food: The Little Things

In October there was an 英国 fair at the Hankyuu department store in Umeda. There was a picture of pasties on the advertisement for it. Pasties! Teachers at work may have been lusting after scones, but meh, they’re easy enough to make at home (though the cream is an issue I will allow). When I go back to the UK I miss ume onigiri (specifically Lawson’s – they’re the best), but when I’m in Japan I get pasty cravings. There isn’t anything quite like it here, so at the Hankyu British Fair in October I didn’t care that they cost 500円 for a single, rather dinky pasty.


It was a pasty.


And I got to eat it.


And I was happy.


There are some things that people can send you by post; there are other things that you can buy from import stores as and when you feel the desire/need. But every so often, something magical happens and you find yourself presented with a little nugget of unlooked for joy from home.


Aside from the heart-warming joy of pasty goodness, other UK-centric goods abounded. The aforementioned scones had a snakelike queue of people that the lovely lady on the cheese counter said had been present since approximately five minutes after opening time. The fish and chips counter was also busy (which I will never understand, give me a pie over a greasy battered piece of fish any day – tempura wins hands down on the deep-frying front) and the fair in general heaving with people. The patriotic heartstrings were practically straining with pride. There was smoked salmon from Scotland, and of course the ubiquitous Scotch whiskey, but also a stand selling delicious looking loaves from an award-winning Scottish bakery as well. The cheese selection was small and extortionately priced, but I did get to sample (and then purchase) some ‘Waterloo’ which is a soft cheese I’d never had before (very buttery and mild; I’d buy it again, though maybe not for 1500円…). It may be foolish to hope this will lead to more British regional cheeses becoming available in Japan, but that won’t stop me dreaming.


Moving away from the food section (which I will admit is where I spent the majority of my time, not least because I was in the pasty queue), there was also a range of clothes, accessories and other random paraphernalia produced by designers working in the UK. From tea sets to cuddly toys,  scarves to truffles (wait, that’s food again ><) there was more than enough to keep anyone of the British persuasion wondering what would happen if a Japanese person went to somewhere other than the Cotswolds or Lake District…


The 英国 Fair isn’t the only such event to take place at Hankyu Umeda by a long shot. Keep your eye out whenever you’re on a Hankyuu or Hanshin train and you’ll see what I mean. It wasn’t so long ago that I was getting slightly tipsy at the wine fair where you could sample over 600 bottles for free and talk to some rather lovely French gentlemen about how sad it is that you can’t really get champagne from the small champagne houses over here. At the beginning of November (6th-12th I believe) there’s due to be an Italian fair. Similar events take place at the Hanshin Umeda store, and no doubt in other places too. Indeed, having had a quick peek at the Hanshin website it would appear there’s a wine fair running there until the 5th November. Huzzah.


Note – it was busy when I went on a Thursday evening after school. If you are intending to go to one of these events, I would possibly try and avoid the weekends unless you really, really like queuing for things.

Imogen Custance

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