There is a type of dessert called dango in Japan. Dangos are made of steamed rice, boiling them and rolling into dumplings, and there is a theory that they used to be used as offerings to the shrines and shinto altars in the olden days. They became very popular among general public in Edo period (17th century to 19th century).
There are several varieties of dango, so let us introduce you Kushi-dango, today.
The feature of the shape of this variety is “on the skewer” as their name suggests. Normally, each skewer has about 3 to 5 dangos, and they are sold widely at convenience stores and Japanese sweets stores at around JPY100 per piece.
The orthodox variety is “yaki-dango (broiled dango)” and are simply seasoned with soy sauce and broiled over the open flame. However, many stores often have several flavors and different types of sauces available, including “yomogi (Japanese mugwort)”, “sakura (cherry blossom)” flavors, as well as “mitarashi (sweet soy sauce)”, “anko (adzuki paste)”, “goma (sesame seed)”, “shoyu (soy sauce)”, “kurumi (walnut)”, “zunda (green bean paste)” and , “kinako (grounded roasted soy beans)” toppings.
The most popular among them is the “mitarashi dango”, which is dressed with sweet and salty sauce made of sugar and soy sauce perfectly complementing the dango, and although it is simple, it has rich flavor thus it is filling that you get satisfied after eating it. All of the stores selling “mitrashi dango” are competing each other for their originalities that they normally adjust the broiling of dango, thickness of the sauce every day in order to create the best ones.
In addition, dangos are closely associated with Japanese seasonal events:
One of the most famous one is a custom to eat dango while enjoying “hanami”, cherry blossom viewing in the beginning of April. The cherry blossom viewing originally was an event to appreciate those blossoms but the delicious dangos were way too attractive. It can be viewed as a manifestation of the perfected quality of dango in japan just as the old saying, “Hanayori Dango,” literally meaning people prefer to take delight in practical things over elegant things was emerged.