Yoyogi Koen Ohanami, 2014

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One of the many, many things I love about Japan is walking into a supermarket and noticing that there is a new themed section. Oh, so now it's time to make umeshu, and now it's girls day, and now it's time to eat ehomaki to ward off the evil spirits, and now it's time to eat 7 greens rice, and now it's time to plant your Goya summer green wall. There always seems to be a new themed section. You could almost get by in Japan without a calendar. Lately, if you walk into any 100yen shop or supermarket and you can find ohanami party items. Giant colourful leisure sheets, pretty patterned paper cups and plates, potato salad packed in pink and white sakura trays...Love you Japan!

Last year a few beer companies produced special 'Sakura' style packaging especially for spring. I was waiting and waiting for this one to appear in the supermarkerts this year, but the sakura is almost gone and I haven't seen a cherry blossom themed beer can at all this year! Such a shame! I look forward to that every year. It's like when Rummy starts coming on sale and you know that winter is only around the corner. But the good news is, the beer was still available, just not in the cute packaging.

Yoyogi koen is just over 10 minutes bike ride from Hello Sandwich HQ. I've worked out a way to avoid two hills by taking a picturesque detour via Yoyogi Uehara and Yoyogi Hachiman.  During this sakura season, I went to Yoyogi Koen three times in four days. Each time for a very special and very different ohanami party.

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Tuesday's ohanami with Mami-chan was so so lovely and relaxing. Sunny weather, sparkling wine, sakura snow amongst my favourite colours and patterns.

We enjoyed a little feast of onigiri, kinpira gobo and renkon, hijiki, gobo salad, edamame, salad rolls, Maisen sandwiches,  egg, vegetables, potato salad and apples.

Sakura snow fell down on our leisure sheet as we snacked away. Onto our cameras, onto our food, into our drinks. I'm not sure that there are many things more beautiful than relaxing under falling sakura snow.

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Mami-chan made these super sweet ohanami onigiri!

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We both had a shot of being Lullatone for a moment on my little xylophone. Aided with a little sparkling wine. From our quiet little spot we could hear the combination of various other mini-musicals taking place. A guitar to our left, and a trumpet just a few trees over. And laughter, lots of laughter.

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I only made it to Saturday's ohanami party after work around 5pm, and goodness it made me feel old. I had to make sure I looked down as I passed the park fences so as to avoid seeing more men who couldn't be bothered waiting in the long toilet lines. The park was packed with drunk young Enoshima-style kids dancing around on giant blue leisure sheets. And then there's the annual doof party section (who knows if that's what kids are even still calling those things these days) with a lot of trancy music blaring from giant speakers and dancing people with hair dyed in all sorts of rainbow colours. Again, my technique was to just look down and beeline for my group of friends. As crazy as this all sounds, the vibe is pretty fun, in a young people kind of way, and it definitely is worth experiencing it at least once. It's nice seeing everyone let down their hair at a party brought upon by nature. That's pretty special, I think.

Every year we sit in a similar spot saved by lovely Martin who is up and in the car at 8:30am to reserve a space big enough for our large group. How sweet of him!

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People had started to leave by the time I arrived. I loved the little salaryman on his bike and watching his friends bow 'Sayonara' to him at the party next to us. I always wish I could fly over the park at ohanami time and take overhead photos of the colourful leisure sheets.

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We had originally cancelled Sunday's ohanami due to cold and rainy weather, but my gorgeous friend David had brought some beautiful Matcha sake and a selection of beautiful ochoko all the way from Kyoto, so we stood in the park, shivering while we told ghost stories and drank sake. I've never drunk sake from such beautiful vessels in a park in my life. ありがとう Davidさん. Also, anyone who buys a Damien Hirst photo and then eats soba for a month, is a friend of mine.

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There were only four of us, but I love that David poured all six glasses. I was allocated the pretty pink glass one.

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As terrible as it was to see rubbish left like this in the park, I couldn't help but spot the beauty of the vibrant coloured leisure sheets floating over the sakura snow covered ground.

Most of the sakura trees I've been seeing around lately have finished blooming and have left behind pretty scatterings of sakura snow and hours of unedited film on my computer. But I still have some Kandagawa sakura picutres to share with you tomorrow.ではまた明日!

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