Yatsuhashi/八橋- 8 bridges…


Yattsuhashi/八つはし- 8 bridges…
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Yatsuhashi (八橋・やつはし)which literally means “8 bridges” has unexpectedly led me to memory of a certain scent and taste memory. Yatsu (八つ) means “eight” and hashi (橋) means “bridge.” The term has two completely different contexts and meanings, at least as far as I know.

The first definition came through a search for images of 8-plank bridges. I was reminded of them after having over dyed an indigo scarf this summer, the resulting pattern recalling the image. Yatsuhashi are wooden bridges that are staggered or set at angles, often seen in Japanese gardens and is a motif in many Japanese art forms.

The term also references a specific bridge where the poet Ariwara Narihira stopped in his travels to compose a poem about his wife. The poem alludes to the irises growing at the side of the bridge and uses the character for iris at the beginning of every line. This is the poem:

殻衣きつつなれにしつましあればはるばるきぬるたぼをしぞ思ふ。 Karakoromo kitsutsu narenishitsumashi arebaharubaru kinurutabi oshizo omofu. A Chinese robeI have worn so often,I know it as I do my wife;Having come so far,this journey rests heavy on my thoughts.

The second and most surprising meaning came when in researching the images; I turned up crispy roof-tiled shaped cookies instead of romantic depictions of bridges in Japanese gardens. Then, I read “Wiki’s” description of the cookie and immediately I was transported to my Kyoto home in Ginkakuji’s “backyard” – the smell of cinnamon, and taste of it in those cookies – delicate and not overbearing or bitter. Then again, the consistency of it – not crumbly or too crisp – a slight suggestion of dough – and the closest I can come to having something like it is one of those large waffle ice cream cones (which I don’t eat very often). We really don’t have anything that quite compares to it in this country.

It has been a journey, albeit, a small one, that only took place in my memory, jumping from image to image…still, from an indigo dyed scarf, to Japanese bridges with irises, to cinnamon and sweet potato flavored cookies…it could be a stretch. Still, nothing’s impossible and in my mind, I was in Kyoto, if only for a magical moment.

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4 Responses to “Yatsuhashi/八橋- 8 bridges…”

  1. neki rivera Says:

    wonderful !thanks for sharing it.

  2. whereishenow Says:

    yatsuhashi can be soft too… raw dough, i guess. with a bean filling and cinnamon… I love them!!! my favorite Omiyage from Kyoto!!!

    • Susan Says:

      Ooooo yummy! I saw a lot of images of those soft ones on-line, in fact, there were more of those than the cookies. One more good reason to visit Kyoto…!

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