A little black book caught my eye the other day in a little book store in Berlin. ‘A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees’. How much more Japan can you get into one title? The author is a Japanese Buddhist monk named Yoshida Kenkō who has lived more than 700 years ago (1284 – 1350).
His collection of 243 short essays Tsurezuregusa (‘Essays in Idleness’) are among he most studied works of Japanese literature. “An eccentric, sedate and gemlike assemblage of his thoughts on life, death, weather, manners, aesthetics, nature, drinking, conversational bores, sex, house design, the beauties of understatement and imperfection. “ (Source: smithsonianmag.com)
When the days get shorter and nighttime falls earlier every day, it is a good time for me to immerse into the thoughts of the past, into the thoughts of a far away world, into the thoughts of someone from the past which, I have never met.
Maybe – or most likely it will not only be only one glass, even though the essay is a short one. The Sohomare Junmai Daiginjo is simply too inviting. Brewed from the best Yamadanishiki rice, harvested in the Premium A area of Hyogo prefecture it is handmade using the ancient Kimoto method.
Soft and slightly creamy on the palate with an elegant aroma I recommend drinking it from a Burgundy glass. Drink it as it is or with a bit of goats cheese as a nibble while reading. If you want to pair it with food, I would go for charcoal-grilled fillet, chūtoro (medium fatty tuna) or ōtoro (fatty tuna).
Spring, meaning the cherry blossom season, has finally reached Japan in full bloom and the country is blanket in white and pink flowers. Weather or not is chilly, people drag outside to have a picnic under the cherry trees. It is also the season for salted cherry blossoms that make fantastic Sakura Gohan (rice mixed with cherry blossoms) – perfect to take on a picnic. But there is more to salted cherry blossoms than Sakura Gohan. They can also – and in face are during wedding ceremonies – served as Sakura Yu (a broth-like ‘tea’). Why is that? It is believed that green tea encourages gossip. And with each liaison there are many opinions about it out there. But on the day of the wedding ceremony it is expected that everybody keeps silent about personal opinions on the couple and to emphasize this, Sakura Yu is served instead of green tea.
So if you are invited to a wedding try to get your hands on a bag of salted cherry blossoms. They make a cute little gift.
Springtime in Japan is magical. From the middle of March to the end of April or beginning of May the soft light pink flowers blanket the country, attracting visitors from all over the world and dominate the local’s life.
For this year the sakura (cherry blossom) forecast predict the start of the bloom in Tokyo for March 23 with March 30 to April 07 being the best time for Hanami (flower viewing). In happy anticipation I got myself
sakura joghurt and I also got a fresh pack of Tomizawa’s salted sakura that I will use for the sakura rice in our Hanami picnic bento. Don’t miss out on grabbing a pack or two if you are near a store (read here for more details on Tomizawa). They keep well and are equally wonderful as a finish on a perfectly grilled steak.