When we rolled out our food event calendar for the week, we told you about Natsu Matsuri, the Japanese summer festival that Takashi is celebrating tonight with a party where guests will sip punch and eat skewers holding, meat, offal, or salted caramel and marshmallow. We caught up with chef Takashi, who told us a bit about the origins of this festival–and why it’s worth celebrating.
“Natsu Matsuri is a Japanese buddhist custom to honor our ancestors’ spirits,” the chef explains. “This custom evolved into a family reunion holiday: People return to their ancestral family places to visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars dedicated to them. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and has traditionally involved making a fire so spirits could easily find their way back home.” Takashi emphasizes that the holiday is not akin to Halloween–it’s more like Memorial Day in that it’s about honoring and remembering the dead–and the occasion is commemorated with plenty of dancing, food, drinks, and fireworks.
The festivities always take place in the middle of August, and Takashi hopes to capture the spirit of the holiday at his restaurant tonight, at least when it comes to bountiful food and drink. “Maybe there will be dancing too!” he says.
Tickets to Natsu Matsuri are still available; snag your entrance, which includes food, drink, and tip, for $60.