Monday, February 16, 2009

Cherry blossoms and spring are here!

Cherry blossoms are a symbol of spring in Japan, and the cherry trees are blooming in Kawazu! Kawazu is on the Izu peninsula southwest of Tokyo, known for its warm weather, tea production, tangerines and oranges, fish, hot springs and earthquakes. Kawazu is right on the ocean, and surrounded by mountains.

Most cherry trees bloom at the end of March, but Kawazu has a special type of cherry tree that blooms starting in February. The town has several walks lined with these special cherry trees. The trees look so beautiful in bloom because they actually bloom before their leaves emerge. So we see all pink and no green. Kawazu also has a lot of field mustard plants which are edible and provide a beautiful contrast to the cherry blossoms. Many of the cherry blossom observers wear surgical masks because spring is allergy season in Japan, too.

A cherry blossom viewing festival was going on, which means that vendors were selling lots of locally-produced food, such as half-dried salted anchovies (below)
another type of dried fish

and cherry blossom waffles filled with pounded rice cake (mochi).

Above, a man roasts fresh chestnuts (below).
Roasted chestnuts are delicious!

This is fresh wasabi root.

And above I am walking on a massage walkway made of massaging stones.
After two days in Kawazu we returned to Tokyo where it is still chilly and doesn't quite feel like spring yet, but we are assured that spring is coming soon!

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