Sunday starts sunny, then it rains, then it’s sunny again, then it goes cold…
Mugi-to-Hoppu Black is back in the shops, to great rejoicing (link). One of the best happoshu.
Monday’s weather is much better – the air is still chilly but at last it still feels something like Spring. Fukinoto shoots are coming up, along with wasabi leaves. Our friend the uguisu is back! Crows and tits are joining the party too.
Min. temp. -2°C, max. 15°C
A beautiful sunny day! Cherry in full bloom! Sunday! The perfect day for hanami – maybe the only Sunday this year. Millions of people are probably in the parks of cities from Hiroshima to Tokyo, but we hit route 41 out to Gifu instead. Cherry blossom is visible from the road, and Mount Ontake is also pink in the spring haze.
As we get into the hills cherry is replaced by plum (ume actually) and at our house even the ume is barely out – just one or two flowers..
We stop off at the “TakemiZakura” to take a photo of Mt. Ontake and a bunch of local ojisans, including Yamada-san, are clearing up for the matsuri, due in in a couple of weeks.
That evening Yamada san brings over an iwana fish to grill and drop in a pot of sake. Iwana-sake might be an acquired taste…
Monday is forecast sunny, but just after mid-day it rains. Later it’s warm again. Such is Spring weather.
Min. temp. -3°C, max. 13°C
A Beautiful Sunday. The cherry leaves are coming out in Nagoya, but a bit out of town it’s in full bloom everywhere.
At the house we’re greeted by the sweet smell of ume blossom, but the cherry buds are still hard.
Birds are bustling noisily about, getting ready for nest-building. Bumblebees too. Flowers too – including the somewhat unusual “katakuri“.
A local policeman drops in to say hello. Newly arrived from Gifu, he seems friendly enough. (You know you’re getting older when policemen are young enough to be your own children.)
Min. temp. 2°C, max. 18°C
Rain. The forecast says rain all weekend but we drive out anyway.
This week the TakemiZakura is expected to be in full bloom, accompanied by the local matsuri that’s been on since 2006. Sure enough, the 300 year old tree looks magnificent, and a handful of people are bravely defying the rain. We sit under a tent munching yakitori (the regular kind!), sipping sake and soaking up the Spring feeling. Yamada-san shows up, buys me more sake (T’s driving) and we chat for a while about the future of this event – the cost of promotion, limits on parking space, whether to encourage coach tours – how to balance size and enjoyability, it’s tricky. Eat some excellent shishinabe. This was all quite pleasant at the time but we get to the house at about 5PM and the rest of the evening is a bit fuzzy. No major harm done though…
More ume and forsythia in blossom, and yet more birds this week flying about the place. Many bird calls, including the uguisu.
Warabi coming up, and the wasabi plant beside the house is starting to flower.
There’s an ojisan from down the road who sometimes walks past in the evening – even with the active country life he feels the need for daily exercise. We were talking the other week about the deer that come and eat everything, and he said he’d put in some traps. Deer are a nationwide problem lately and some effort is being made to get their numbers under control. Anyway, he’s now put in a trap. We’ll see if he gets any.
Min. temp. 5°C, max. 20°C
Sunday’s a bit hazy, but this goes beyond spring to summer heat at 28°C in Nagoya. The cherry’s finished but other flowers are out – the hanamizuki is quite pretty.
Pass a couple in Town-Ojisan-Going-For-A-Walk-In-The-Country uniform – check shirts, waistcoats, khaki trousers and shapeless khaki hats. You can see dozens of them on local train lines on Sundays.
We take the other road up, past a local onsen where there’s a vegetable stand, and buy a bamboo shoot and some wasabina. That’s a kind of mustard green I suppose – it tastes like wasabi and is good in beef salad, for example. The lady there knows our village and knows we get a lot of deer. Their main problem seems to be monkeys.
Our place is looking nice – the ume is finished but our weeping cherry and a couple of wild cherries are out, along with forsythia, quince, azalea, yamabuki, yukiyanagi…
Looking for bamboo shoot (no luck) I turn a corner to be suddenly surrounded by a chorus of invisible frogs.
We have dinner outside for the first time this year, burning some of the old wood left over from our floor change last autumn. Sansai tempura – warabi, udo, wasabi, yomogi, onion… Later I was dozing off to be woken by a loud voice – not pleasant. A deer?
Monday is cloudy with rain coming tonight but it’s still fairly warm. The birds are incredibly busy.