This article will be featured in J. Festa August 2011 edition: “Food in Japan,” hosted at japingu.
ほっこりしている (hokkori shiteiru): to be warm and fluffy
Traveling around Japan has really widened my understanding of Japan’s local foods. For instance, because dried apricots are nearly impossible to find in my bayside town, I assumed that there were no apricots to be had in all of Japan. Then I went to Nagano, where basically everything delicious is, and, lo and behold, there were apricots everywhere!
Every time I go on a trip, I’m surrounded by these famous local specialties: Iwakuni renkon, Hiroshima citrus, Nagano everything! Meanwhile, I’m living in Hokuriku, and while there ARE local specialties, they apparently aren’t famous instead to warrant attention from KitKat. Or it could be that no one wants to eat Noshû (能州) yellowtail (buri, 鰤) KitKats or Kashû Koshihikari (コシヒカリ, a type of rice) Kitkats. (Actually, I would eat a rice kitkat.)
It's even certified!
Now, if KitKat wanted to roll out some Hokuriku Pride kitkats, it ought to start with the Aka Kabocha (赤南瓜, red kabocha squash), a.k.a. the Utsugi Akagawa Amaguri Kabocha (打木赤皮甘栗かぼちゃ, Utsugi [Town] Red-Skinned Sweet-Chestnut Kabocha).
This squash is one of the 15 Kaga Vegetables (kaga yasai, 加賀野菜), vegetables cultivated in the old province of Kaga, southern Ishikawa. Unlike a regular kabocha, which resembles a pie pumpkin more than a jack-o-lantern–sweet orange flesh, edible green skin–the red kabocha has orange skin. In fact, according to the Kakiichi Web Shop, a website about the seasonal vegetables of Hokuriku, which has the page “Mini Lessons and Recipes” for aka-kabocha, this squash is related to the Western buttercup squash. Available from June to September, the aka-kabocha is cultivated in Utsugi-machi, Kanazawa.