Monday, April 07, 2008

Blooming blossoms

"A couple navigates through Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2008."

The first official day of spring began on March 20 and the days have been getting warmer, longer and rainier since.

I don't know if it's the rising temperatures, my recent flight booking or recent trip to Outback Steak House (and seeing the awesome blossom on the menu), but it all has me wishing, waiting for my return to Japan this June.

If you're sitting there thinking, what does this monochrome photo mean and what does it have to do with this post and Japan?

Well, Japan is know for their sakura, or cherry blossom. It's their unofficial national flower and this area is known to showcase them every year.

Unfortunately for me, when I was in Japan in January, I didn't get to see any blossoms in one of the countries most crowded and popular cherry blossom spots: Ueno Park.

The park, one of Tokyo's largest, features more than 1000 trees along the National Museum and around Shinobazu Pond. I can only imagine how colorful and gorgeous it really is during its peak.

Ueno Park is one of my favorite parts of Tokyo. It was also the first time I tried Takoyaki, or fried octopus. I had no idea what it was when I ate it, other than it had tako (octopus) in it.

According to Wikipedia, it's a popular Japanese dumpling made of: batter, diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, konnyaku and green onion, topped with okonomiyaki sauce, green laver, mayonnaise, and fish shavings.


I had bought them at a street vendor, but I recently saw a restaurant in Osaka where you can make them yourself on my new favorite travel show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

Well, it's obvious my post has shipwrecked and my appetite has taken over. What can I say? The food is literally to die for in Japan.

Anyways, cherry blossoms have been celebrated for many centuries in Japanese culture. But luckily for us Americans, more prominently those that live in or around Washington D.C., they have cherry blossoms, too. And from Japan.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. annually commemorates the 1912 gift to the city of Washington of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo. The gift was given with hopes to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan.

Now I have never known that until this earlier year and I've been to the nation's capital many times. Intrigued, I hope to get down there next weekend for the 48th Annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese street festival.

The Web site says they have everything from sushi to sake. Two words I can actually write in traditional Japanese. And two things I love to eat and drink.

Hopefully it will hold me off until my trip. Only 72 more days.

One last side note, I finally saw "No Country for Oldmen." One word: Awesome.

To read about my last trip, type in Japan in the search bar or follow this link and scroll down.


Blogger Tyler Waldman said...

I volunteer for Sakura Matsuri. Sooooo much fun. Trust me, you need to check it out. And find us crazy Towson people at J-Pop Land. And Takeno-sensei around somewhere.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 7:41:00 AM  

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