Sakura blooming time is coming soon! This is my favorite period in the year because not only the sakura is going into its florescence, but also many of the other flowers are going to blooming, too. In China in spring, I will go to the mountain areas around Beijing with my parents and see those peach flowers all over the mountainside, which looks like the pink blanket on the hills.
Last time I traveled in Japan was during one of my summer breaks; all the sakura trees had already turned into green. So, unfortunately, I didn’ t catch the lovely pink sakura, and I will probably go there again – for the unmissable sakura blooming moment.
When people are talking about sakura in Japan, no one will forget a very popular and traditional custom – hanami (花見), which means “flower viewing”. From the end of March to early May, when sakura trees are in full bloom all over Japan, people will go to the park with their family and enjoy the transient beauty of flowers. Sakura viewing should be the most extensive one among all the flower viewing activities since Japan has billions of sakura trees, which is also the symbol of their culture. Therefore, everywhere will be decorated by the pink sakura during that time.
When going for hanami, women in the family, especially the housewives, will prepare a sumptuous and gorgeous bento (弁当) for the whole family. Traditional bento usually holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, and fresh fruits, usually in a box-shaped container. People will carefully decorate the bento with foods contains multiple nutrition. They may use the original colors and shapes of the meat or vegetables to make various pretty patterns just in that small box.
To make a bento is a simple, but also a very complicated process. Why is it simple? Because making bento is just putting whatever you’ d like to eat in the box, cover it with the lid, and then eat it when you are hungry. However, the preparation of the bento is super complex. You need to get an appropriate container for your food; decide the menu of your bento and the ratio of the different types of food you will put in the box; get some small containers for the sauce and seasoning if needed; also, you need to make all those food by yourself if no one can help you out. Therefore, bento in Japan is not only a simple lunch or dinner, but it also contains the love and care from the person who made the bento for you.
Bento making is very flexible, so I didn’t introduce the complete making process in my post. However, I do have some good websites of bento making to recommend. If you are interested in making food by yourself, more information about bento could be found in this Japanese mother’s blog:
Bring your special bento during the hiking with your family. And have fun in the beautiful spring!