Sakura Showers

Last week, Khoa and I took a trip to Tokyo. I was determined to see some sakura, so even though it was raining, we negotiated the puddle-filled streets to visit Shinjuku Gyoen.

I’d like to be able to take credit for these shots, but this is all Khoa. But I was the official umbrella holder while he was shooting, so maybe I get +1.


Sakura and Soba

Every April, as our reward for enduring the harsh, bone-chilling, “most days it’s colder inside the house than outside” winter in Japan, the formally dull trees explode with tiny blossoms of pink and white.  It’s enough to make you forget that you spent most winter days huddled under your kotatsu (table heater), cursing your house’s lack of insulation and double paned windows, wishing you were back in California and enjoying the warm winters you were spoiled with as a child.  To take advantage of our sakura reward, the two of us headed over to the Kisuki Sakura Matsuri.  Kisuki boasts the longest stretch of sakura in all of Japan, and once we set foot on the mainland, it was just a short (two hour) bus and train ride away (before coming to Japan, we never thought that taking a boat, bus, and train would be a normal trip for us).  We saw many mainland Shimane JETs, walked amongst the barely opened sakura (bummer!), and enjoyed the fireworks display that closed out the festival.  If you’re interested, check out  Khoa’s Flikr for some sakura and fireworks pictures.


At one of the many food stalls that lined the walkways of the festival, we saw a man hand-making Izumo soba (buckwheat noodles).  I was mesmerized by the back-and-forth, back-and-forth motion of rolling out the soba dough.  I was amazed by the skill and precision it took to thinly cut each noodle into the perfect size for enjoying this wonderful, nutty noodle.  Before witnessing the process of handmaking soba, to me these buckwheat noodles were just, boring, dried packaged noodles that I boiled up to eat for lunch when I couldn’t think of anything better.  But after seeing this man skillfully roll, fold, cut, and boil the soba right in front of our eyes, I came away with a new appreciation for this Japanese food staple.

Cutting the freshly rolled soba:


Not only was the soba itself perfect, the tools he used to roll, fold, and cut the soba are beautiful:


Happy Michelle and her soba:


Soooo good!