Hello everyone! It is officially sakura season here in Tokyo! I’ve wanted to see cherry blossoms in Japan for as long as I can remember, so it’s honestly amazing that I’m able to have this experience. And as it turns out, I chose the right university for this purpose.
A bit about ICU’s history. The International Christian University was originally built as a facility to produced planes for WWII. However, after the war, several Christian Missionaries and U.S. donors decided to turn a place that was once used for destruction into a place of peace. Factories were turned into lunchrooms, laboratories into classrooms, and my favorite of all, the old plane runway was converted into the entrance of the school, with gorgeous sakura trees planted along the side.
Thus, brings us to my topic of the week: Flower watching! Although it is typical for families to visit the local park for Hanami, I recently found out that a lot of people around the Mitaka area flock to ICU in order to see the flowers.
There are plenty of places to see cherry blossoms in Japan such as Inokashira Park (found in the picture below), but it makes me extremely proud that my university is considered to be one of the best places!
So let’s talk logistics! (I need to tie in my business classes somehow, right?)
Picnic Blanket or ブルーシート (Blue Sheet)
First, many Japanese people use ブルーシート or “Blue sheet” in place of a picnic blanket as it’s very easy to clean up and you don’t have to worry about if you make a mess. It costs around 500-1000yen (USD $5-10). We found our mat for about 458yen at FamilyMart and it comfortably fit 5 people, but we also saw mats that could hold an entire group of 10+ people!
This is the perfect time to start showing off your bento skills! Typical foods to eat during this time are Onigiri (rice balls), Inari (fried, marinated tofu pouches stuffed with sushi rice), Karaage (Japanese friend chicken), Tamagoyaki (sweet omelette), and some sort of veggie dish. If you are lacking in the cooking department, supermarkets and convenient stores have plenty of bento options.
If you are confused on what to buy, the workers at the store are more than happy to help!
“すみません。花見弁当がありますか？ Sumimasen. Hanami bento ga arimasuka? (Excuse me. Do you have any hanami bentos?)
As for dessert, we decided to head over to the concession stands, which to my surprise are conveniently located in most large parks, and bought Jian Dui, which is a type of Chinese fried pastry dough filled with bean paste. The one below was rolled in sugar that was infused with sakura petals. It was 美味しかった！Oishiikatta (Delicious)
Take off your shoes and remember to throw away your trash!
Being that we are in an asian country, it is usually customary to take off your shoes when entering a house. Just like what you would do at home, there is an unspoken rule to do the same when sitting on your picnic blanket. (P.S. Your shoes also serve as a great way to hold down your blanket, as we saw some families chasing their mats that got picked up by the wind.)
There are giant trash cans located around the park so may sure to properly throw away all of your trash. Japanese cherry blossoms should be enjoyed by all, so please make sure to clean up after you are done!
This part is pretty self explanatory but the best part of Hanami is sitting around with your family, friends, and even coworkers to enjoy the wonderful spring season that Japan has to offer. That is the end of my blog and I hope you all enjoy the coming of spring. Until next time!