Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Himeji Hanami Continued

I mentioned that Isao took a nap while Gordon and I climbed Himeji. There was a good reason for this. While we were trying to sleep off our jetlag, Isao was up till 3 AM Friday night making lunch.

We came down from the castle to find a picnic. I should mention that we also came down from the castle to find an enormous aluminum balloon reflecting light so it would be easy to find "base camp," as the dining area under the sakura trees had become flooded with people. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the balloon. But here is the picnic spread. As you can see, Isao provided Gordon with an assortment of drinks, including cup-sake decorated with cherry blossoms.

The note on the box reads: "Welcome to Himeji." I have saved it.

Inside are wild ferns, egg, fishcake and the most incredible seasoned fish, made at Isao's family restaurant. It was hard for me not to hog the fish. There were also bamboo shoots, which are in season now in Japan because it is spring.

Here is a close-up of the bamboo shoots.

Isao also hand-made these rice balls. Half are salmon and the other half have Gordon's beloved pickles. Isao included a similar bento for our bullet train ride up to Tokyo. The food was all beyond delicious and I felt incredibly spoiled to eat something so wonderful in such a lofty setting. Hanami at Himeji? Honestly. That's beyond poetic. I told Isao I had intended just to go buy some bento and he scolded me saying that I was not allowed to buy such things in his presence.

After this lunch, we had to teach Isao the Eglish phrase: "You have outdone yourself." He agreed with us that he had. It is no wonder he came down with a cold after we left.

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