(English follows) 呪術廻戦お花見シリーズの屏風風色紙を東急ハンズで買っちゃいました！まだまだ外でみんなと一緒にお花見できない今年こそとても役立つ屏風だと思います。「お家花見」にぴったり！実は個室のあるレストランまで持ち運んでみましたよ（笑）写真見てくださいね↓
Can you believe March is about to end already? I feel I haven’t done all the March-y stuff that gets done each year out of habit, one of them being お花見 ohanami or cherry blossom viewing, which we all know is a BIG thing in Japan. It’s that seasonal event early in the year when everyone lays out (usually bright blue) plastic mats under the cherry trees in parks all across the country and eats and drinks in celebration of the sakura-heralded coming of Spring.
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Usually it’s a really noisy outdoor party kind of thing, and in ultra popular hanami spots such as Ueno park or Shinjuku Gyoen park it’s like a
war zone crazed marketplace. Since you have to stake out a spot very early in the morning (sleeping under the trees overnight is usually not allowed), you’ll always find spot-savers coming in before the sun has risen and laying out their mat and then sitting on it all day just so their group can come out later and they can all have a party under the precious blooms. So if you see a picture of a solitary person standing on a blue mat under the cherry trees, they don’t have a screw loose, they’re just waiting for their friends/family/colleagues to congregate.
There’s a list of 100 Famous Sakura Places (さくら名所百選) that acknowledges the best viewing spots in the country; good luck finding a nice place to sit in one of them when it’s the height of the season. I personally prefer smaller, quieter, less crowded places, with just a small gaggle of friends and not a huge group of thirty or more people, but even then the best time to go is early during a weekday. It takes some coordination to get everyone in one place at the same time, but boy oh boy is it worth it.
There was a time in my life when I took ohanami for granted, something that comes along in Spring every year and which I can always go to whenever. The pandemic has truly changed the way I feel about events like these. Last year and this year, when my friends and I didn’t gather in an outdoor group to party because COVID-19, I found myself really missing the event.
Indoor Sakura Viewing
What I did this year was get together with just one friend at a time, and have a nice, quiet, one-on-one little celebration. While we didn’t get all rowdy and noisy, it was nice to reconnect once again IRL, face masks and disinfectants and all.
Being an anime watcher (I won’t call myself an otaku as I’m not currently watching four dozen anime at the same time xD), I brought along a virtual gang, to liven up the gathering.
The product you see above is called a ミニ屏風 (mini byoubu), a mini folding paper screen, or more accurately a 屏風風色紙 (byoubu-fu shikishi) folding screen-like fancy paper. Real folding screens are large enough to act like a wall partitioning rooms or spaces, but this one’s tiny, just a little larger than A4 or letter sized. Having such a small folding screen means I can lug it around and pretend I’m partying with the Jujutsu Kaisen gang.
I got this merch from Tokyu Hands, a chain of department stores that sometimes hold anime-related events. Click here to see the rest of the products. There were lots of the usual pinback badges and stationery and acrylic stands and so on, but dear heavens if I buy any more of that stuff I’ll drown in knick knacks xD So I just bought this one mini folding screen, thinking I’ll have some use for it especially because I don’t want to party during the pandemic.
A Closer Look
Let’s see what our babies are doing:
The Zen’in twins, Mai and Maki, sit in a corner seemingly having an argument. Mai is eating 三色団子(tricolor dango or dumplings in pink, white and green usually eaten during hanami season), and Maki is drinking what seems to be orange juice. In the middle of the scene is Aoi Todo and Yuji Itadori having an arm wrestling match with Panda serving as the good-natured table. It and Toge Inumaki are eating onigiri or rice balls. Satoru Gojo stands between the two boys playing the role of referee. On the right hand corner is Megumi Fushiguro quietly eating dango, and below is Nobara Kugisaki drinking grape juice and loudly cheering on the arm wrestlers.
It’s such a fun, colorful scene, with everyone being in character. The only ‘wrong’ thing about this illustration is that we *always* take off our shoes when sitting on a picnic mat. Their shoes should be lined up along the edges of the mat and they should just be wearing socks on top of it. But I guess drawing socks and empty shoes doesn’t look ‘neat’ enough xD. Anyway, shoes aside, I love the picture and was happy to have something more convenient to carry around than nine individual figurines.
O-uchi Hanami or Sakura Viewing at Home
Here’s a setup of me having a simple lunch with a friend at home. There’s beer with cherry blossom designs, traditional rice-based hanami food, and Japanese sweets.
Earlier in the day we went to see the blossoms at a nearby park, ‘see’ meaning walk underneath them and look up and admire them (and take the usual pics) and move on. And then we went home and had lunch with the gang and re-watched the anime episodes afterward xD It was actually fun!
On a separate day, another friend came over for afternoon tea (well, coffee in this case) and we had sandwiches and cream-and-custard filled croissants with fresh strawberries.
They’re not Japanese staples but the folding screen picture is pretty enough that it’d go with any kind of food.
At a Restaurant with the Screen
And then, finally, I did bring the mini screen with me to a restaurant. It’s a ふぐ fugu or puffer fish specialty restaurant called とらふぐ亭 Torafugu-tei, with branches in the Kanto area. What I love about these places is that they offer small private rooms just enough to fit two to four people. That means I can display my little folding screen without embarrassing myself in public with my juvenile behaviour xD Thankfully, my friend for this meal is even more of an otaku than I am and didn’t mind at all my bringing the Jujutsu Kaisen gang with me xD
So, here’s us and the cuties with delicately sliced sashimi puffer fish and the requisite glasses of beer (Yeah, I’m drinking again, but only during the weekend, and never a lot! I’m still attending my AA sessions like a good recovering alcoholic, so don’t worry about me!). Kanpai!
This is the naberyouri or one-pot dish version, with raw puffer fish, veggies and tofu. You put the ingredients in the basket with boiling water until cooked and then take them out and dip them in the sauce provided. Honestly, puffer fish is rather tasteless without the sauce! xD
My favourite way of eating fugu isn’t the sashimi or boiled version but the fried variety. It’s really, really good, like fried chicken but better! After gulping down the beer we each ordered Japanese saké, and this brand is one of my favourites ever. It’s a dry and refreshing one from Nara prefecture.
I forgot to take a picture of everything, but you can have a look at the set menu we ate here, photographed by a real photographer and not a (former) drunkard with an old iPhone.
The dessert consisted of monaka (bean jam-filled wafer) with coffee ice cream and hot tea. I think Gojo-sensei would have liked this, as he has a sweet tooth 🙂
This ends my ohanami meals with the characters from the Best Anime of 2020-2021. It was quite fun! I adore them so much and had a riot pretending to have a party with them. Also, the folding screen made a great conversation piece. Because the illustration is seasonal, though, it kind of has a very limited usage, as in only for Spring during cherry blossom season. What about summer? Autumn? Winter? Guess I’ll have to get me other Jujutsu Kaisen mini folding screens xD
Thank you so much for reading! Please take a moment to share a thought or two in the comment section below. Your comments give me life and are a real source of encouragement. xoxo – hana