I also attended a large beach party In East Enoshima, in Kanagawa. It’s very picturesque, but the water was not so clean.
Please come to Tanuki’s first ever Koenji Xmas party this Friday at Dynamo, a skate-board bar with felafel! Thanks @dynamo_koenji.
Friday, December 21, from 8.30 pm
Koenji Kita 3-1-1, Asahi building 1F
A costume company had a big hanami party in Yoyogi Koen. There was a ninja, crocodile, lion, bear, rabbit, and frog.
My friend Matt sent me this intricate sakura weather map: it shows the updated forecast for the start of cherry blossoms across the Japanese archipelago. Even if you can’t read Japanese, it’s impressive to see how much weather forecasting amplifies cherry blossom season.
Today I also heard from Twitter’s @Matt_Alt that there are big signs at Inokashira park Big asking visitors to refrain from holding cherry blossom viewing parties there. This is one of Tokyo’s most famous parks, and one of the most popular places for young people to celebrate spring with all night and all day drinking parties.
It’s now just over two weeks after the horrific natural and man-made disaster that began with the East Japan great earthquake. With looming energy shortages, national mourning for the dead, and continued fears about nuclear fallout, Tokyo life will not be the same. Yet it is still impossible to fully know what will emerge in the coming months and years.
Will these events increase or reverse Japan’s hyper-urbanization? How will people respond to new concerns about food and water safety? Can the government and industry regain trust and provide leadership? How can civil society contribute to rebuilding the country and restoring Japan’s international reputation?
And can public spaces and local businesses flourish in a time of anxiety and uncertainty?
My watermelon plant has produced an enormous amount of growth in just two months on the balcony. It was very easy to train the vines onto the metal rod balcony. Now there are two fruits the size of oranges. I love the shape of the leaves, and am looking forward to having a watermelon party when they are ripe.
There are many previous posts about my balcony garden. It is approximately 1 meter by 6 meters, and includes the air conditioner, washer dryer, clothes line, a small stand, and about 100 plants. In addition to the permanent railing, we recently installed a summer green curtain net for extra shade and cooling.
In addition to the Shinjuku Gyoen hanami party, I also visited Yasukuni shrine, where I saw many office workers celebrating. Because it was April 1, it was also the start of Japanese companies fiscal year, and the date that many new hires start. The shrine was full of black suits. I noticed that in addition to food stalls, there were a few guys selling beer by the case, and delivering them to larger groups. The female employees had to pour drinks and serve the food. I don’t envy their company role.
My friend at Hitachi took me to visit Matsugaoka in north Nakano and the small Tetsugakudo Park. Despite it being a prime hanami weekend, the small park seemed to only attract local residents. It was more family-oriented and local.
I like how Japanese refer to these blue sheets in Katakana English as “leisure sheets.” If you are invited to a picnic, please remember no shoes on the leisure sheets.
My relatives’ ceramic studio recently hosted a miso-making party. The process is both simple and also time-consuming. First the soy beans are soaked in water. We started with 11 kilos of beans, and about 12 people who mashed and combined the ingredients by hand.
The beans are then cooked in a pressure cooker. We had three pots going at once.
The beans are then mashed by hand. In the upper left hand of the photo above is a mortar and pestle; the wooden pestle is made from Sansho, the Japanese pepper tree (Zanthoxylum piperitum).
More photos about miso making after the jump
Mochi making parties are a winter community event. Above, a huge mochi party took place on Seijin no Hi (Coming of Age Day) on January 11 outside Nakano’s JR station. The event took place on the asphalt connecting the station with Sun Mall and normally occupied by smokers, taxis, buses, and pedestrians.
There were young girls playing taiko drums, men pounding rice, and women forming the rice into mochi balls. Did you know that a modern Japanese tradition for mochi eating is to keep a vaccuum cleaner nearby, in case the mochi gets stuck in elderly people’s throats?
Just before New Year, the ceramic studio where I practice pottery hosted a mochi making party for students, friends and relatives. Nearly thirty people attended, with many pounding the 18 kilos (40 lbs) of Niigata rice in the backyard, forming the sticky rice into balls, adding toppings, and sitting down to a huge feast. In fact, so much mochi was made that all the guests took some home for later.
Some more photos after the jump of what the finished mochi looks like with many different toppings, the huge lunch feast, and the beautiful hand-written menu.
The last post about Big Globe reminded me of two recent dinners I attended in Tokyo and Kanagawa which featured food with visible and interactive connections to the farmers who produced them.
The first was a mochi party at the ceramic studio where I am a student. Their annual mochi party used special rice grown by Niigata farmers. The teachers found them online last year, and this year along with the huge bag of rice, they included the above image showing the family that creates the rice. I like how they also include a QR code.
The other event was a lavish dinner hosted by a Japanese architect friend that featured Kyushu pork fed a persimmon diet. The dinner included seven courses all of which included pork and persimmon, including an amazing sweet-and-sour and a tonkatsu with cream cheese and persimmon inside the batter. Both at the party and in the email invitation, we learned about the River Wild Ham store, and how it used fallen organic persimmons from Kakinoya farm as feed. The taste was astounding.
Given the discussion of technology in the previous post, it is interesting how these rural farmers are connecting with city people with online stores, blogs, QR codes, and Flickr accounts. I do not fully understand the “21st century rock and roll heart” branding, but clearly the pork store wants to be contemporary and relevant to today’s buyers.
Lastly, I realize that more and more vegetables in Tokyo now include images of the farmer. Well, given how industrial most farming is, I wonder how accurate some of these images are. Still, I think it is part of a broader interest by city people to know where their food comes from, how it is made, and who is making it.