Shokibarai (暑気払い) is comprised of two words, ‘shoki’ which means summer heat and ‘barai’ which means to fight or dispel. So, ‘shokibarai’ is a Japanese tradition created for the purpose of beating the summer heat, usually by eating delicious food and drinking alcohol! In the past, the Japanese way to fight the summer heat was by eating and drinking cold food and beverages. Nowadays, ‘shokibarai’ really just means a regular party where you can eat hot meals, too! Shokibarai parties are usually held around the middle to the end of August, just before the peak of summer arrives.
Shokibarai: let’s grill the beef!
In my case, my first shokibarai party was held on the 20th August, 2017, right before summer vacation. I enjoyed the shokibarai with the other members of a laboratory which I belong to. In my laboratory, we celebrate any Japanese event with a party – really just an excuse to strengthen the bonds between lab members! The party also becomes an opportunity to congratulate hard workers by giving them a gift, so it is common to celebrate shokibarai together just after the end of semester. My laboratory is located in the Katahira campus of Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. We initially wanted to hold the party in the backyard of our laboratory. But, because it was a bleak, drizzly day, we looked for an alternative place with a canopy.
The shokibarai taking place in front of the gate!
Finally, we decided to hold the shokibarai party just in front of the gate which has a lot of space and a big canopy. We prepared the barbecue grill with charcoal and got the fire going. We also rented a beer machine from a nearby restaurant!
We started to cook after all of the preparations were complete. We had some vegetables like carrot, cucumber, corn, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms to be BBQ’d. We also had beef, fish, shellfish, chicken and pork. For the sauce, we had some type of soy sauce and its derivation, barbecue sauce, and mayonnaise. Hungry yet?
Cooking the vegetables!
We had two barbecue grill stand! cook, cook, and cook!
My friend also made a traditional Japanese food called ‘Shimotsukare’. Shimotsukare is a healthy dish made from soy sauce, vinegar, and fried tofu skin. Sometimes extra favourite ingredients are added, too. The taste is sour and a little bit spicy; a bit of an acquired taste for some! Shimotsukare is a speciality dish of the Kanto area, specifically Tochigi prefecture. Although it is not very famous in Sendai, it is a well-known food in its origin! They even have a character mascot for it (because of course they do, Japan)!
Being a summer party, the drinks were served ice cold! We brought a huge Styrofoam ice-box filled with ice to keep our beverages cool. As well as our trusty beer machine, we had wine, cola, oolong-cha (a Japanese brown tea), and orange juice. Oh! And my friend made a delicious pineapple cocktail with orange in it. With the power of cold alcohol, the evening was fresh and stress relieving!
We also had some pineapple and orange cocktail! Yum!
We all had the chance to have a good chat and congratulate each other on surviving the semester. We also talked about how our life is going in general, because it was a rare opportunity to chat outside our regular everyday work space. We are very busy! haha. But we were extra happy because the summer holidays were coming!
Cooking, eating, and talking!
We also congratulate one of our laboratory members because he has a newborn baby! Yeah! Congratulations! My professor gave him a speech and a gift. We wish their family all the best!
Overall, the shokibarai party was really fun and I felt more than ready to fight the summer heat! Come on, summer! Bring on the holidays!!