The Surprisingly Long Sakura Season

It’s been super cold and gloomy in Tokyo.
It even rained some days.
I’ve really missed sunny days.
But you know what?
The cold weather has kept the cherry blossoms
from hitting full bloom too soon.
And so when I walked along the river today
this is what I saw…still in bloom!
Sometimes gloomy weather is a blessing.
I’ll be travelling this weekend so
I’m glad I got to see such pretty sakura
under the blue sky one last time ūüėÄ

The Ichiran Ramen in Harajuku

With all the gorgeous sakura blossoms
Tokyo looks like spring.
But it doesn’t feel like spring at all.
Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
It’s okay though because
there’s nothing like ramen on a cold night!
We stopped by Ichiran in Harajuku.
Ichiran is famous for their unique booth seating system.
(if you don’t know, you can read about it here.)
But they also had a teeny tiny room
to seat four people together.
Which is where we were seated.
And where we devoured our delicious ramen.
Fukuoka ramen is typically made of pork broth
(which we call tonkotsu in Japanese)
and uses very thin noodles.
This store allows you to choose
how you want your noodles and soup made.
I ordered noodles on the hard side
and very thick soup.
Oh.So.Good.
I’m not a ramen expert (I love ALL ramen) but
you know when a bowl is really good when conversation stops! ;D
2nd Floor
6-5-6 Jingumae
Sibuya-ku, Tokyo
03-3407-5911
Open: 11am-11pm

The Sakura in Shinjuku Gyoen

My love for this gorgeous park just grows and grows.
I heard that Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden was in full bloom
and couldn’t pass up the chance of seeing it all myself ūüôā

Shinjuku Gyoen has over 1,300 cherry trees within the park.
About 420 trees are the ever popular Somei Yoshino.
But what’s so great about this place is that
they have SO MANY different types of cherry trees.
You can enjoy an array of colors and shapes.
And the greatest thing about it is
you can enjoy the cherry blossoms for a longer time
because they all reach full bloom at different times…YAY!!!

And tell me if this beautiful reflection on the lake
doesn’t make you want to run to Shinjuku Gyoen right now? ;D

The Hanami in Yoyogi Park

Yes, you heard right.
We braved the hanami crowds
and headed to Yoyogi Park this weekend!
It was a very impromptu hanami
as sakura season came quite early this year.
But I’m glad we got to do it!
Drinks, sandwiches, and snacks…perfect for hanami ūüėÄ

Cherry blossoms scattered above our heads
It was a pretty chilly day
and it wasn’t the perfect blue sky.
But we had a grand ole time under the pretty cherry blossoms!
And you know what?
It wasn’t as crowded as I thought!
We were there from around 11am to 3pm but
there was plenty of space around us.
I guess all those rumors that Yoyogi Park
is jam packed during hanami season is a myth?
Maybe I’ll make hanami with friends an annual thing ūüėÄ

The Season of Sakura Spam

The season is finally here!!!

The season that makes me leave for work extra early
because I take tons of pictures on my way.
The season that we wait for all year to come
and we make hanami plans according to the hanami forecast
and then it gets warm super early and everyone is hustling to reschedule.

So prepare to be spammed.
Sakura spammed.

The Banana and Raisin Oatmeal

Starting off the morning with yummy oatmeal.
It’s still chilly enough in the mornings for oatmeal, right?
(actually I just need to use up my massive stock of oats.)
Banana and Raisin Oatmeal
(two servings)
Ingredients:
1 cup  oats
1/2 cup  raisins
1  chopped banana
1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp  ground nutmeg
2 cups  water
Directions:
1.
Boil water in a pan.
2.
Add oats, raisins, and bananas.
Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg.
3.
Lower the heat and
stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes.
Ready to eat!
*I love raisins so I always add a lot more.
(also because I need to finish my 1kg bag of raisins)

*Add 1/2 tsp of brown sugar for a sweeter oatmeal
*I like to top it off with yogurt…yum!

The Vernal Equinox Day

Today is the Vernal Equinox holiday in Japan.
As most of our holidays are on Mondays
(thank you for the three-day weekends, Mr. Koizumi!)
it’s rare that we have a holiday on Wednesday.
But it’s just the break I needed.
According to our Public Holiday Law this holiday is a day
“to admire nature and cherish living things.”
I think I’m going to do just that and spend the day outside!
Also, I was inspired by these pretty watercolor nails
and tried them out on mine the other day.
Seemed perfect for spring.
Happy Vernal Equinox to you!

The Sadaharu Aoki Chocorons

I know, I’ve been posting about chocolate way too often.
But our White Day was just last week
and I found myself with this amazing box of chocoron.
I had to share the pictures!
In case you didn’t know (like me)
Chocoron is a macaron covered in chocolate…YUM!!!

Also, they are apparently famous.
(I am so bad at remembering brand names)
These cute polk-a-dotted pieces of deliciousness
were created by the ever popular p√Ętissier¬†Sadaharu Aoki.
Do you know him?
He is a p√Ętissier from Tokyo
currently based in Paris.
In 2007 he became a member of Relais Desserts.
He even won the Pudlo Paris award in 2011.
(which I believe means that he was the P√Ętissier of the Year)
He has stores in Paris, Tokyo, and Taipei.
And he was one of the most popular p√Ętissier
for this year’s White Day in Japan.
I am ashamed to say that I did not know about him
until I googled him after devouring his delicious chocorons.
So good. So so good.
But I’m pretty sure if you eat more than two at once
you will pass out from too much of this chocolate goodness.
(yes, I could not stop at one and ate two…I am not superwoman!)
This box of chocorons had six flavors:
Green Tea, Chocolate, Citrus, Framboise, Cassis, and Coffee.
My favorites were Citrus and Coffee.
And Framboise, too.
Don’t they look delicious?

A big thank you to my coworkers
who waited in line for an hour and a half to
get us girls in our department this gift for White Day!

The White Day Gifts

Oh my goodness, you guys.
I got so many White Day gifts again this year.
Yummy chocolate.
Yummy candy.
It’s like they want me to gain weight.
But I’m too happy with these delicious gifts to care!
White Day is a holiday that started in Japan.
It’s a day to return the favor for the gifts
you received on Valentine’s Day.
And as women give to the men on Valentine’s Day in Japan
White Day is usually when the women receive gifts from the men.
This tradition is said to have come from the Japanese way
of always returning the favor when you receive a gift.
This actually used to drive me crazy.
Like when I sent my friend a gift when she had her baby
she sent me back a small hand towel gift.
Or when we gift money at the wedding reception
and we receive a bag of thank-you-for-coming gifts in return.
It never made sense to me.
Why do we give you a gift to celebrate
if you’re going to give something back to us?
Why not just a thank you note?
Now I feel like I have to give you something else
in return for the gift you gifted me for my gift to you.
(see? all these gifts get super confusing!)
But I’ve learned that we Japanese do this
because we have a strong sense of community.
(thus giving leads to receiving)
Also heard that we Japanese dislike being in debt to others.
(thus receiving leads to giving)
And through all these cultural characteristics of Japan
White Day came to be a holiday to return Valentine’s Day gifts in 1978.
And that is why I get boxes of delicious gifts
in return for my Valentine’s Day cookies on White Day!
Quite the holiday, huh?