We had the perfect weather for the cherry blossom season this weekend and so I went out on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon to see the blossom.
Saturday Evening Hanami and Dinner Party
Hatsukaichi is a suburb of Hiroshima. Actually, nowadays it’s a city in its own right. Anyway, it’s just two stops down the line from Rakurakuen on the Hiroden tram, and there is an avenue of somei yoshino cherry trees that is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in this neck of the woods.
So that’s where I went with my loquacious chum Brendan to meet our two Japanese drinking pals and sometime students of ours, Mr Morikawa and Mr Gohori.
Dinner at Oden Kourinbou
Our first stop after viewing the cherry blossom was a “one pot stew” or “oden” restaurant near the Hiroden Hatsukaichi tram stop. Ingredients such as tofu, hard boiled egg, white radish, pressed fish cakes, minced chicken meatballs and so forth are stewed in a fish bouillon and served hot with a dab of mustard on the side of the plate.
Oden is a traditional form of Japanese winter fast food. It’s sold in all the convenience stores in the winter. Here’s a 15 second silent video of oden stewing away in an oden restaurant (not the one we went to):
After that we went to a “nijikai” – or second party venue – a small restuarant-bar just down the street. This is where I think we got quite pickled as a mixture of beer, Japanese sake and red wine went down the hatch. Some of the locals happened to recognize me as they’d seen me in my local bathhouse in Rakurakuen! Unlike Tokyo or Osaka, it’s a relatively small world here in Hiroshima.
Sunday Afternoon Hanami And Takoyaki
I didn’t feel too chipper on Sunday morning but I decided to make the best of it by taking the Mrs to see the cherry blossom back in Hatsukaichi.
I’d also heard that our local takoyaki (fried octopus) joint would be running a street stall in Hatsukaichi on Sunday. To tell the truth, Brendan and I had popped into Takomon on our way back from Hatsukaishi on Saturday evening. That was the “san-jikai.” There was also a “yon-jikai,” a g&t at a bar in Itsukaichi called LDK.
Anyway, the point is, I wasn’t feeling too chipper, and I thought I’d attempt to “save the day” by taking the Mrs to see the cherry blossom. So that’s what we did.
It turned out that the fresh air, and a refreshing beer or two, did me good. There was a big festival going on in a baseball park next to the avenue of cherry trees, but we didn’t see the Takomon takoyaki stall there. However, when we arrive back at Hiroden Hatsukaichi station we noticed a takoyaki stall set up outside a shop two doors down from the oden restaurant that I’d been to the night before. Sure enough, it was Takomon.
So we stopped there for some takoyaki and a beer and a chat with some of the Takomon regulars. As I say, it’s a small world in Hiroshima. The young lady in the photo is a Yasuda college graduate, so we quickly established that we both know the same foreign teachers who work there. There is no escape in Hiroshima. Only the good, or the exceptionally crafty, can live here.