Enjoy cherry blossom viewing in the superb scenery of spring which allows you to feel the history of Japan.

2017.03.22

Come and savor the treats of spring as you ponder about the cherry blossom viewing culture that continues from the Heian Period (794-1192).


Sakura, cherry blossom petals have started to blush in pale pink. It's the season when the cherry blossoms announce the arrival of spring.
Let's go for cherry blossom viewing with a colorful lunch box.
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Although there are many famous places for cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo, today, I will introduce three places where you can experience the atmosphere unique to Japan.

It is said that the culture to admire the cherry blossoms began during the Heian Period (794 - 1192). The custom spread to the general public as an outdoor leisure of spring in the Edo Period (1603-1868). The 8th Tokugawa shogunate, Yoshimune planted cherry blossom trees at the bank of Sumida River, Gotenyama (Shinagawa), Asukayama (Oji) for economic benefits. This is considered to be the beginning of the tradition.

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"Sumida Park".
Leave JR "Shinjuku" station, transfer at Kanda Station to the Ginza Line, and get off at "Asakusa" station. You will arrive at the destination after walking for about 5 minutes.
Sumida Park crosses the Taito Ward side and the Sumida Ward side opposite of the shore. It offers a spectacular view of the cherry blossom trees that continue for about 1 km on both sides of the river bank. There are yakatabune (wooden tour boat) and water buses that run through Sumida River, allowing you to enjoy cherry blossom viewing from the water.

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Sumida River has been chosen as "Japan's 100 famous sceneries for cherry blossoms." It boasts about 1000 cherry blossom trees in several types in both wards. Its prestigious history also makes it a must-see place for cherry blossoms. When the Cherry Blossom Festival is held, the river becomes even more vibrant, with rows of food stalls on the sidewalk along the river.

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"Shiba Park."
Get on the Toei Shinjuku Line at "Shinjuku 3-chome" which is near Isetan Shinjuku Store, transfer at Jimbocho Station to the Mita Line, and get off at "Shiba Park Station." This is a famous site where the cherry blossoms glitter beautifully with the deep red Tokyo Tower at the background, the symbol of Tokyo.

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Shiba Park is one of Tokyo's oldest five major parks, along with Ueno Park. It was opened by the Daijo-kan (The highest government office) in 1873 during the Edo Period at the premises of Zojoji (The temple of the Tokugawa family).

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There are many things that are worth seeing, such as flowers and historic sites within the site. Amongst them, a total of about 200 gorgeous Somei Yoshino, Yamazakura, and Satozakura cherry blossoms blossom in full glory at the hillside of Shiba Maruyama Kofun, a designated historic site of Tokyo, as well as near the Benten Pond.

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Lunch boxes and cherry blossom viewing are inseparable in Japan.
At the Isetan Shinjuku Basement 1F where delicatessen shops welcome you, you will find many lunch boxes that embody spring. There are various styles of lunch boxes from traditional Japanese kaiseki (a traditional multi-course Japanese meal) to lunch boxes you can casually enjoy.

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〈Shimogamo Saryo〉 "Hanayagi Gozen" (A gorgeous meal).
The history of 〈Shimogamo Saryo〉 began from being a purveyor of Shimogamo Shrine. It is a long-established restaurant founded in 1856 that represents Kyoto. 12 kinds of colorful Kyo-kaiseki (kaiseki cuisine peculiar to Kyoto) with each dish carefully seasoned is packed in a square decorative box.

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Each dish is packed with the commitment to the finest quality and gives you a glimpse of the world of Japanese cuisine. For example, "hirousu=ganmodoki" is made by frying the mixed ingredients such as tofu which water has been drained, grated yam, carrots, burdock root, ginkgo, completed by simmering it in broth. "Ogawa maki" (river roll) is a fluffy specialty which is made by steaming salmon wrapped in minced squid. It is a lunch box with seasonal touches. It includes comfort foods such as kinpira (chopped burdock root cooked in sugar and soy sauce) tuna, herring wrapped in kelp. It has also seasonal dishes, including bamboo shoot rice, rape blossoms seasoned with mustard, and fried lotus root that sandwiches special ingredients.

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〈Asakusa Imahan〉"Haru no Sukiyaki Jyu" (Sukiyaki multi-tiered food box of spring). 〈Asakusa Imahan〉 was founded in 1895 and has its main store in Asakusa. Its sukiyaki uses carefully selected wagyu (Japanese beef) and is famous for its tradition and taste that has been handed down over 120 years. It only uses "shoulder loin meat" that is considered to be the best for cooking sukiyaki. All of the ingredients are cooked with care in its secret warishita (a special sauce for cooking sukiyaki).

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Bamboo shoots and rape blossoms are a specialty of this season. A flower-shaped fu (wheat gluten cake) that is specially shaped to resemble cherry blossoms and the special dishes creates a spring-like gorgeous atmosphere. The soft and juicy meat melts in your mouth and pairs perfectly with Japanese white rice. The salty-sweet warishita complements the rich taste of beef.

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This is "roll sushi" from 〈Sushi Avenue K's〉. It is a "new type" brand started by "Kyotaru" that manages a sushi take-out business. You can select your favorite from 10 kinds of colorful sushi rolls. The selections include California roll, conger eel and cheese, and duck seasoned with balsamic. Part of the fun of cherry blossom viewing is to choose your favorite lunch box.

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As you can eat "roll sushi" with your hand without using chopsticks, you can enjoy a relaxing meal with a cup of wine in one hand.
The joy of cherry blossom viewing is to savor a delicious lunch box while admiring the cherry blossoms.

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Cherry blossom viewing has been entertained in a variety of styles in each era in Japan. The practice that continues from the Heian Period is enjoyed at famous sites that represent the history of Tokyo. Be sure to keep good manners when cherry blossom viewing and enjoy Japan's spring tradition.

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ISETAN SHINJUKU

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