Hi all, my name is Klaertje Hesselink and I’m a first-year student studying chemical engineering. Since we’re entering the peak of fall, I thought I would write a piece about fall festivities in Japan.
One of my favorite childhood memories of fall in Japan revolves around sitting on the porch with my great grandma. We would spend the afternoon enjoying the Koyo (紅葉) or fall foliage while enjoying some hoshi kaki (dried persimmons) and barley tea. Persimmons are not the most common fruit found in Iowa but it’s a key part of fall in Iwate, Japan. Making hoshi kaki is a very intensive process that requires the right temperature, humidity, and most importantly, a lot of time. My great uncle was the one who was in charge of harvesting the persimmons in early November and together with my Obachan (grandma) they made dozens of hoshi kaki to enjoy as a family.
Another autumn tradition in Japan is to go to an Aki Matsuri or fall festival. Akimatsuri celebrates the end of harvest season and is a festival filled with different types of fall foods. A food that is commonly served at these festivals is Daigaku Imo directly translated to college potato. This is a sweet and sticky candied Japanese potato often covered in sesame seeds. It became popular during the colder fall days around the many universities in Tokyo where food stands would serve this hearty snack to college students on their way to their next class. If you’re interested, here is a great recipe to try out this fall!
Candied Sweet Potato (Daigaku Imo) – RecipeTin Japan (recipetineats.com)
To end this piece off, here’s one of my favorite haikus about fall:
Kane ga naru nari
When I ate a persimmon, The bell rung. The Horyuji temple.
About the author:
Klaertje Hesselink (She/Her)
Graduation Year: 2026
Major: Chemical Engineering
Hi, my name is Klaertje! I am currently a freshman studying chemical engineering and possibly
doing a double major in international politics. I am so excited to be on the Honors DEI council!
I am currently a part of the Iowa Campus symphony and SWE (Society of Women Engineers)!
In my free time I love to study up on bacteria and fermentation as well as take pictures with my