Yesterday, while walking around Komagome in Tokyo, I was thinking of visiting Rikugi-en, a famous garden for its huge weeping cherry. I used to live around there and felt a kind of nostalgic. But it was so crowded, so I changed my mind. Instead, I visited the temple nearby called “Kichijo-ji” which was really calm. It’s fun to find some quiet places like this where only locals visit.
By the way, Komagome is worth visiting for those who love sakura. Someiyoshino, the most representative sakura tree, originallly comes from this place – In the past, the place around Komagome was called “Somei village” where many gardeners lived.
There is such a cute mailbox in front of North Exit, JR Komagome Station.
It is the best season to enjoy strawberry desserts. How about making Ichigo-daifuku (mochi filled with strawberry and bean paste)?
Ingredients: 8 strawberries, 200g red beans, 100g shiratama-ko (glutinous rice flour), 180ml water, sugar (180g for bean paste, 50g for mochi), potato starch
1. Make anko (bean paste) *Please refer to this post for details.
2. Make anko balls by wrapping each strawberry with anko.
3. Mix shiratama-ko, 50g sugar and 180ml water in a bowl. Microwave it for about 2 minutes and mix well. Repeat this process 2-3 times. Move this mochi paste to the tray (spread enough potato starch on its surface) and leave it until it becomes less hot so you can touch (but do not cool it down completely). Divide it into 8 equal parts using a scraper.
4. Wrap anko balls with shiratama mochi. It requires some technique as the mochi is really soft and sticky. Put enough potato starch on your hands when touching. Spread mochi on your hand and put anko ball and wrap it.
Don’t throw away celery leaves and put them in your miso soup instead 😉
Cut potatos, enoki mushrooms and put in the broth. Boil till soft. Add celery leaves and miso paste.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to pass by “Gyokuzo-in” a temple of Shingon Buddhism in Urawa, which is famous for a 100 year-old weeping cherry (shidare-zakura).
It was quite a surprize to find this in the middle of the city.
2-13-22, Nakacho, Urawaku, Saitama-City
Access: About 5 minute walk from West Exit of JR Urawa Station
Map (link to Google map)
So finally, sakura started blooming in Tokyo yesterday, following the announcement of Fukuoka on March 19. According to the weather forcast, it seems to last till the end of this month.
Here are my favorite sakura viewing spots in Tokyo:
Enjoy ohanami 🙂
I knew the taste of baby scallops when I was living in Aomori, the northern part of the mainland Japan, which is famous for scallop aquaculture. Baby scallops are culled just now – in early spring. I’d never had miso soup with baby scallops in my hometown but it was quite popular in Aomori.
Last week, I luckly found baby scallops in the supermarket near my house, so I made miso soup using them and Chinese yam which was also produced in Aomori.
First, clean the scallops well and boil them in water with diced Chinese yam. Skim the scum. Add some miso paste and that’s it. Baby scallops make good stock, so it’s quite simple but tasty!
Here’s the updated sakura blooming days in Japan according to tenki.jp
as of March 9.
It looks sakura will bloom earlier than the last forecast.
Place – Start blooming on / Full bloom on
Tokyo (central) – March 21 / March28
Yokohama – March 23 / April 1
Nagoya – March 22 / April 1
Kyoto – March 25 / April 2
Osaka – March 25/ April 2
Fukuoka – March 22 / April 1
Sendai – April 6 / April 12
Aomori – April 22 / April 27
Sapporo – May 2 / May 6
For those who are worried about missing sakura, read the tips I posted on the previous post
Although Google is running a nice campagin, almost no one on the street here is talking about International Women’s Day!! They seemed to be more interested in so-called “White Day” – Men receive chocolates from women on the Valentine’s Day and will give candies to women in return on March 14 (Yes, I know. It’s quite strange!) .
Unfortunately, Japan is so much behind in gender equality.
The glass-ceiling index (2015): next to last among OECD countries
Gender Gap Index (2015): 101th place among 145 countries.
I love Japan, but I can’t deny these results. Actually, they reflect the realty. I really hope this situation will change!
This is angyo-kanzakura I found in Kawaguchi, Saitama today. It blooms earlier than the most popular sakura, someiyoshino. It was rainy, but the blossoms were beautiful!
Globally speaking, most people will think of “tsugaru-jamisen” when they hear the word shamisen. However, tsugaru-jamisen is one of the styles born in the Tsugaru District in Aomori prefecture. There are many shamisen styles and schools in Japan.
Okinawan sanshin is also shamisen, it’s actually the ancestor of the shamisen of Mainland Japan. Although both Okinawan sanshin and Mainland shamisen have the same structure, they are very different in materials, playing methods, sound and tunes. The original sanshin was brought from the south part of China during the Ryukyu dynasty.
Sanshin is spread not only in Okinawa but also in Amami islands. Each community on each island has a different style of playing. My husband from Okinoerabu Island plays sanshin – acually it’s called “sanshiru” there – and just opened his website “Sanshiruko“. If you’re interested in it, please check it out!
Below, click and enjoy some of the sanshiru music! 😉
To learn more, visit https://sanshiruko.wordpress.com/