Why hello again! Apologies for the silence ‘round here, but a combination of too much traveling, which in turn triggered a nasty flu, has left me without much time or energy to devote to blogging lately. However, I thought I should at least post some photos of the wonderful spring produce available in Japan at this time of year. What follows is a broad, though by no means exhaustive, selection of the sansai available around Matsumoto right now (for more on sansai, see this post from early March).
Although I’m currently back in New York for a brief visit, I’ve been thinking a lot about spring in Japan, particularly what new foods will be available in the markets once I return in April. Even in February, when it was most definitely still winter, it was clear that people’s minds were already turning toward spring. Stores around Matsumoto began introducing sakura (cherry blossom)-flavored goods: a little street stand that sells taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes surrounding sweet red bean paste) featured a sakura and mochi-filled version, and the local Starbucks was advertising a sakura frappuccino!
Then, in early March, we had a full week of sunny weather, with temperatures reaching 15°C (~60°F) some days – perfect biking weather. As I pedaled around town, I noticed that the mountains had taken on a reddish tinge, due to the appearance of buds on deciduous trees. Many of the local rice paddies had turned a verdant, brilliant green, and some plum blossoms had even begun to peek out.