Hebo Matsuri - Gastro Obscura

Food Festivals

Hebo Matsuri

Every November, wasp-based dishes create quite a buzz in a Japanese village.

Hachinoko, or wasp larvae, is a snack in central Japan’s Nagano and Gifu prefectures, with regional restaurants highlighting it on traditional menus and some stores even selling the larvae in a can. But the greatest celebration of these delectable insects is probably Hebo Matsuri, an annual festival devoted to all things wasp.

Every November 3, wasp fans swarm in the village of Kushihara in Gifu. They’ve come to eat and buy insects in various forms, including the traditional hachinoko gohan, a preparation of larvae with steamed rice, and the fest’s most popular offering, gohei mochi. The latter consists of grilled sticky rice coated in a blend of soy sauce, sugar, ground peanuts, and crushed hachinoko. The resulting skewered snack has a savory, sweet, and smoky flavor. 

Beyond the food, there’s also a bit of healthy, wasp-cultivating competition. In one contest, a judge weighs contestants’ wasp nests, with the heaviest taking home top prize.

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