Shunbun No Hi

I don’t think people in Japan are feeling very celebratory after the disasters that struck the country this month (earthquakes, tsunami and serious trouble with the Fukushima nuclear power plants), but yesterday was a national holiday in honor of spring equinox, called Shunbun No Hi. It is a moment to reflect on our relation with nature, which seems only natural in light of the current events.

Stemming from Buddhist tradition, it is also a time to visit the resting places of ancestors, cleaning their graves and offering ohagi, sweet rice balls covered with red bean paste — it’s believed spirits prefer round food. :)

So when my plans got canceled yesterday morning while it was such wonderful weather, I picked up the Spring Equinox Bento I had quickly made the night before, packed my bag and put on my hiking boots. Destination? My father’s family grave. I hadn’t been there in a while so it felt really good to tidy up (yes, even scrub) and leave some spring flowers — in my country we usually don’t offer food to the gods or deceased. ;) And there was even someone there to greet me..! #MurakamiMoment

Murakami Moment: my ancestors' spirits coming to visit?

Afterwards I had planned to take a long hike but there wasn’t much time left, so instead I went in search of a small lake nearby to wait for Mr Gnoe. Together we went to the North Sea shore for a walk on the beach and to see the sun set. The sea is my mother’s resting place (sort of), so I had the most perfect day contemplating both nature & my ancestors. What a great way to start springtime! :)) But of course my thoughts went out to the people of Japan too.

Quick Spring Equinox Bento (#136)

Quick Spring Equinox Bento, 21-03-2011

As you can see there isn’t anything resembling a ball in my Monday bento, although there is some circular movement going on. ;) The only real round food I had were cherry tomatoes, but they had to make room for their tiny plum tomato siblings because these are smaller.

The main aspect of this lunch is my sunny tofu scramble in a night-blue cup symbolizing equinox: the day being exactly as long as night. It was my second time making tofu scramble and I ‘adventurously’ added some cumin and veggie BBQ sauce that was given away for free at the Asian store (nearing its expiration date). Nice.

Other foods:

  • Mixed salad with La Dolce Vegan!’s Sesame Miso Vinaigrette
  • Switchback cut banana
  • The last bit of creamy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (recipe also from La Dolce Vegan!)
  • Italian scrocchi crackers
  • Grilled vegetables: zucchini & green bell pepper
  • Dried cranberries & apricot (sliced)
  • Cauliflower fox, oak-leaf lettuce & garden cress

On the side I also brought an apple, vegan sammy and a bottle of water.

Spring Equinox Sunset at Noordwijk aan Zee