Cherry Blossom Park in Amsterdamse Bos

Hurray, it’s time for Hanami! On Sunday we went to view the cherry blossoms in the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Woods) and had our yearly picnic. In 2000 the Japan Women’s Club planted 400 cherry trees in celebration of 400 years of trade between Holland and Japan.

I absolutely love this part of the Amsterdamse Bos, which is called Kersentuin (Cherry Garden).

We went there exactly 365 days ago (one of our pictures of that visit was included in the Amsterdam Schwap Guide!), but… it was much colder this time around! :( Still, the blossoms were at their prettiest, so postponing our outing seemed not a good idea. Furthermore, Bento-Babe was organizing a little party that we liked to join. We enjoyed meeting her friends and Marion (& dan_e), whom I have known in cyberspace for quite some time now! So I didn’t really mind ending my readathon early for it. The fun thing is that the 2nd sentence I read that morning actually was:

“Robert woke up early to the sound of church bells and thought, Today is the perfect day to picnic in Postman’s Park.” [Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger), p.184]

How suitable :)

Hanami Bento #95 (11-04-2010)

Our contribution to the hanami party was bento #97. A picnic under the cherry blossoms was the perfect excuse to finally make those poppy seed scones I had been planning for a while! At first I was afraid that it had all gone wrong, but they were actually quite good! We ate them with some raspberry jelly and mascarpone. The recipe for poppy seed scones will be up on Graasland in the near future. The recipe for the scones can be found on Graasland!

The other foodies in our hanami bento are sugar snap salad with garlic & wasabi and miso tamago (miso marinated egg; recipe below) on a bed of red salad and accompanied by tomatoes that had to hold everything together ;) The white sakura flowers you find laying between the eggs are ice cubes. Aren’t they cute? After a long search for appropriate cool-thingies I found these at the Dutch department store HEMA. A great tip for bento lovers in (or visiting) Holland!

Leftover Easter eggs for hanamiI forgot to include our leftover Easter eggs in my cute sakura bag in the picture, hence the seperate photograph.

Beverages we brought along (not shown): our traditional kir royale (prosecco wine with creme de cassis), pink grapefruit juice, gyokuro classic sencha tea and plain tab water.

Some things the others brought to our picnic: homemade walnut bread, rice fishies & spicy curry-peanut furikake, mini kiwi’s, wasabi nuts, mouthwatering sakura cupcakes, pineapple, pickled cucumber, onigiri, veggie mix and more…

White sakura chopsticksBento-Babe had a kind surprise for us: sakura chopsticks! I really adore them; they’re exactly like my black ones that you see in the picture above, but white. I now have a complete set!

Celebrating O-Hanami is not common in The Netherlands. But it is one of the major festivities in Japan!

Wikipedia (edited): Hanami (lit. ‘flower viewing’) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, in this case almost always meaning cherry blossoms or ume blossoms (prune). In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. The practice of hanami is many centuries old. It was first used as a term analogous to cherry blossom viewing in the Heian era novel Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu; often considered to be the very first work of literature. Whilst a wisteria viewing party was also described, from this point on the terms “hanami” and “flower party” were only used to describe cherry blossom viewing. The delicate flowers are seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral.

I have read part of Genji Monogatari (not all) and it might just be how Mr Gnoe and I came to have our own hanami here in Holland!

Cherry Blossom (sakura)

Miso tamago recipe

Preparing miso tamagoMarinating eggs in miso is really easy! It just takes a bit of patience… The original recipe for miso tamago on Justbento contains white miso and maple syrup. Since we only have red miso in our fridge at the moment (which tastes much saltier), and maple syrup also tilts to the salty, I’ve replaced the syrup with molasses (schenkstroop). Here’s the recipe per egg, so you can make as many as you want ;)

Needed

  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 2 tablespoon red miso
  • 1 teaspoon or egg spoon molasses
  • 1 piece of clingwrap, big enough to fold around the egg

Preparation

  1. Peel the egg.
  2. Mix miso with syrup; if necessary add a tiny bit of warm water to make it smooth.
  3. Spread the mixture in the middle of your piece of plastic, put the egg in the middle and wrap the cling film around the egg. Twist the plastic shut at the top, and gently squish the miso so that is completely covering the egg.
  4. Put the egg(s) in a container in your refridgerator and let rest for at least 5 hours, preferably a day. According to Maki from Justbento it can be kept up to a week.
  5. Remove the cling film when you want to use the egg. I prefer to wipe off the remaining marinade with some kitchen paper. You can leave it on if you like, but red miso is pretty strong..!

How wonderful: April’s Hello Japan! mini challenge is all about spring & sakura too! Our task is to celebrate spring, and in particular the beloved sakura. Well, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing! :) Giving life to an old tradition on the other side the world.

For a finale I’ll leave you with the 3:54 Pizzicato Five song Sakura Sakura (of whom I’ve talked before in a Hello Japan! Music Lesson), written by Konishi. It’s different from the common children’s song ;)


Sakura, sakura
Irohanihoheto

Sakura, sakura
It was under the cherry tree
That I learned what love was

It was spring and I was 19
Cherry blossoms were dancing in the air
And it was in a room at the Imperial Hotel
That I learned what love was
Sakura, sakura
Irohanihoheto

Flowers have such short lives
And men are all such liars
Irohanihoheto
Chirinuruwo
Wasn’t that what you said

You know somebody used to say
Underneath cherry blossoms in bloom
There lie corpses
And so my love has also died
Cherry blossoms viewing, booze, and cherry rice cakes

Sakura are blooming in the Ueno woods
Sakura are blooming in Chigorigafuchi too
Irohanihoheto
Chirinuruwo
Wasn’t that what you said

Sakura, sakura
Irohanihoheto

Sakura, sakura
It was in that room at the Imperial Hotel
That my love died like the cherry blossoms

It was in that room at the Imperial Hotel
That I wrote on the mirror with my lipstick
Irohanihoheto
Chirinuruwo
Wasn’t that what you said

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