Monday, April 05, 2010

Hanami Part I

This weekend the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, which means just one thing: Hanami!
Hanami means literally "flower viewing" and it is a traditional custom to get together in one of the many big parks and have a picnic with your friends. Ryan had lessons on Saturday, so I went solo to meet up briefly with a friend in Shinjuku Gyoen. This park is I guess a private park, so there is a small entrance fee (~$2) and no drinking is allowed. The upside is that the grounds are very manicured and sport really nice elements like these ponds and bridges that make for excellent photo ops.
Due to phone malfunctions, I never did find my friend in the park, but instead met this nice group of UCLA alums. The protocol for Hanami is that someone spreads out a blue tarp and everyone just brings all kinds of foodstuffs that get spread out in the middle and shared. I got major props for bringing the pastel colored mochi in the foreground - very hanami.

As you can see, this is a very popular tradition. And this was only at noon. Come 4 or 5 pm, this park would be wall to wall blue tarps, I'm sure.
But I didn't have time to find out. I was double-booked and had to race off to my cooking class. Today we observed some Indian cooking from inside the kitchen at a restaurant near the community center.
The chef made eggplant curry, tandori chicken (on the salad, below) and naan. The latter two recipes require our actually owning a tandori oven, so this "cooking class" was a little impractical but yummy nonetheless.
We strayed from the usual format on this occasion because, of course, we had some blossoms to see.
After the class I took a stroll with the ladies along a river near Oji shrine (called Otonashigawa) that is completely lined with cherry blossom trees, sometimes making a canopy over the walkway.

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