A Taste of Ireland Episode 29: Japanese Chef Takashi Miyazaki serves a meal underground in a Cave.

I am delighted to finally post this video from July 2016, so let me first introduce you to Takashi Miyazaki the owner of Miyazaki a Japanese takeaway on Barrack street in Cork City. Japan’s loss has been Ireland`s gain as finally I had access to authentic Japanese food. I just don`t understand why other Japanese, Indian and Chinese restaurants in the west persist churning out some invented form of their food. We want the real thing and that’s why Miyazaki is so successful and popular. I won`t go on much more except to say, Miyazaki is for me the best takeaway in the country, because it’s not really a takeaway, it’s a great Japanese restaurant disguised as a takeaway and that is its charm. If you get the opportunity to visit Cork I would recommend finding this place as a priority before Miyazaki moves to a planned higher end restaurant.

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I was lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to film the event in Michelstown caves on Tanabata night and I hope I have done the night Justice. The highlight for me was our descent into the belly of the earth, what a great feeling and I kept the camera rolling as we went down. Top marks have to be given to the Miyazaki team as not only did they manage to serve a great meal they had to cart it down and back up quite a distance and the whole team is to be commended. I think all in all it was a truly unique event and one I`ll always remember. So now a little about why Tanabata is celebrated in Japan.

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Tanabata is a festival that is celebrated annually in Japan, to commemorate the romantic story of two lovers represented by the stars Vega and Altair. The stars are only allowed to meet each other once a year as long as the skies are clear. It is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, which is July 7th in the modern calendar. Some places in Japan celebrate Tanabata on August 7th in accordance with the older Chinese calendar, which is where the legend originated.

During the festival of Tanabata, people can write wishes on small pieces of colored paper called tanzaku and hang them on bamboo trees. These then become wish trees. The next day, the decorated trees are floated on a river or in the ocean and burned as an offering. There are many celebrations all over Japan, which also include parades, food stalls, colourful decorations, and fireworks.

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The story of the two stars is as follows. Princess Orihime, the seamstress, wove beautiful clothes by the heavenly river, represented by the Milky Way. Because Orihime worked so hard weaving beautiful clothes, she became sad and despaired of ever finding love. Her father, who was a God of the heavens, loved her dearly and arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi, the cow herder who lived on the other side of the Milky Way. The two fell in love instantly and married.

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Their love and devotion was so deep that Orihime stopped weaving and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to wander the heavens. Orihime’s father became angry and forbade the lovers to be together, but Orihime pleaded with him to allow them to stay. He loved his daughter, so he decreed that the two star-crossed lovers could meet once a year–on the 7th day of the 7th month if Orihime returned to her weaving. On the first day they were to be reunited, they found the river (Milky Way) to be too difficult to cross. Orihime became so despondent that a flock of magpies came and made a bridge for her. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies will not come, and the two lovers must wait another year to be reunited, as a result the Japanese always wish for clear skies and good weather on Tanabata day.

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