Bamboo Leaf Rice Cake
As a children’s song goes, “My big bro, while eating Chimaki, marked my height on the pillar”, it’s a typical food eaten on the Children’s Day in Japan (May 5th). Its origin is Chinese, dating back to the Warring States Period in Ancient China (BC 403 - BC 221). There was a politician-poet named Qu Yuan, who took his own life for the love of his country. To remember his sacrifice and prevent his body from being damaged, people threw rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves (as food for fishes) into the river where he died. That is the root of Chimaki. And it was around the Heian period (794 - 1192) when the food or cooking idea was introduced to Japan. Today there are several kinds depending on the content inside the leaves. One is a sweet rice cake shaped in a slender cone. There’s another very much like Chinese one (that's why it’s often specified as a Chinese Chimaki to differentiate it). That is, glutinous rice shaped into a triangle, often mixed with ingredients such as vegetables and mushrooms. Wrappers may also vary, including cogongrass, bamboo skins, or Manchurian wild rice besides bamboo leaves.
(Photo: Chimaki with a sweet cone-shaped rice cake wrapped in bamboo leaves.)