Cherry blossom gazing 花見

japanese cake
Cherry trees in our backyard are in full bloom!

This winter was very hard with very unusual (for DC area) heavy snow. As a result, a little like Hokkaido, all the spring flowers are blossoming at the same time. Cherry, Magnolia, and Bradford pear trees are all in bloom. We have three cherry trees in our backyard two are ornamental which we planted and one is “wild” meaning somehow rooted when the land was still pasture. In regular years, the wild variety blooms about one week after the ones we planted but this year both are in full bloom at the same time. Our trees usually bloom about 5-7 days after the trees at the tidal basin but this year they are all in full bloom at the same time. In any case, the hard winter made this eagerly awaited spring all the more enjoyable. It is time for “Hanami” 花見 or Cherry blossom gazing.

Cherry blossoms are the national flower of Japan and the progression of cherry blossoms across Japan, from south to north has been reported daily and is called “cherry blossom front” or “sakura zensen” 桜前線. In Japan people celebrate cherry blossoms by having “Hanami” or a drinking party under the cherry blossoms. The parties generally consist of people from the same work place, and can become quite noisy spectacles. This week was the conjunction of spring break for most local schools, cherry blossoms in full bloom and exquisitely beautiful spring weather. My wife’s family came for a visit and they went to see the cherry blossoms at the tidal basin.  They  reported back to me that it was a “mad house”, “way too crowded”, “couldn’t even see the trees for all the hoards of people”. So it is nice to have a quiet Hanami in our own backyard.

We did not have anything special ready for the occasion. So I served whatever was in the freeezer and refrigerator. We started with tuna sashimi arranged in a flower shape, Monk fish liver or “ankimo” 鮟肝 and cucumber with moromimiso.

The left is graded daikon with sweet vinegar and salmon roe or “ikura”. The right is store bought (frozen) squid and guts or “shiokara” 塩辛. For the occasion, using a very small cutting mold (from Kappabashi), I made cherry flowers from carrot, lemon peel and the skin of cucumber.

This is a small salad consisting of cooked chicken breast, seaweed salad, blanched broccoli rabe in my usual sesame dressing.  Our Hanami went on until it got dark. We tunrned on the lights and then we were doing “Yozakura” 夜桜 or “night time cherry blossoms” gazing.

Comments on Facebook