The other day, I made a post about this beautiful park surrounded by a bamboo forest that I had visited one weekend. This Sunday, I decided to make another trip out there to see what things looked like now that we’re at the end of May. The reeds that had been short little stems were now a couple meters tall, and the irises were all in full bloom! The uguisu (Japanese bush warblers) had since moved on, so the sounds of the birds were entirely different as well. It was pretty awesome to see how the exact same location could transform so quickly in just a few weeks!
Last time I was there it was cold jacket weather, but this Sunday it was pushing around 27 degrees Celsius. Perfect beer weather! Here in Japan, it’s totally legal to drink outside, so as I walked up to the park I stopped in at a convenience store to buy a can of lager. I also went to a little old shop that was selling traditional Japanese sweets and packed lunches.
I love that the food on display in the window just happened to all be vegan! They had inari sushi (pouches of sweet fried tofu filled with rice) topped with pickled pink ginger. There were various maki rolls with white rice and pickled vegetables, rolled in a sheet of nori. There was sekihan (sticky rice steamed with red beans, giving the rice a gorgeous pink color). And, there were of course the traditional onigiri (large rice balls) with an umeboshi (pickled plum) in the centre.
As usual though, I was all about the sweets. They had an assortment of dango (pounded rice rolled into little balls and lined up on a skewer) with various traditional toppings. They also had two types of kashiwa mochi (gooey rice cakes filled with sweet red bean jam, and wrapped in an oak leaf). And then, there was the thing I really had my eye on…red bean donuts!
These were the real old school traditional red bean donuts, just the way they used to make them back in the 50’s and 60’s. There are a lot of varieties nowadays, but these ones were made with a good thick cake batter filled with homemade red bean jam, and rolled in sugar. Perfection.
I took my donut and can of cold beer up to the park and sat in the shade in a little pagoda, listening to the birds around me. And when I say listening to the birds…I really mean it. It wasn’t just the occasional chirp here and there. They were super active and seemed to be having a great time feasting on these little red berries in the tree beside me. There were also a couple huge ravens loudly swooshing around in the sky, calling out in their gurgly voices. The park was so alive. It was fantastic!