Spring in Japan brings more than just cherry blossoms. Tokyo’s green spaces erupt into a rainbow of colorful spring flowers. Here are the best spots. Japan has a huge variety of flora and fauna. Cherry blossoms are world-famous, but that isn’t the only reason to go flower watching in spring. Colorful azaleas, wisteria vines and roses, to name but a few, burst into bloom across the country. Tokyo’s green spaces, including formal gardens, shrines and parks, are the ideal way to see spring flowers. Festivals and illuminations offer an extra-special way to enjoy the scenery. Hama-rikyu Gardens
These gardens are home to 300,000 stalks of rape blossoms that form a bright yellow carpet, creating a contrast against the skyscrapers surrounding the park. Between early and late March, Hama-rikyu holds a rape blossom festival, during which you can enjoy Tsugaru-jamisen concerts and an illumination display. Spot: Hama-rikyu Gardens Access: 7 minutes on foot from Tsukijishijo Station or Shiodome Station (Toei Subway) Nezu-jinja Shrine
Nezu Shrine has an approximately 6,600 square-meter azalea garden featuring 3,000 azalea plants of 50 varieties. During the shrine’s annual azalea festival, visitors are invited to admire the scenery, to try amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink) at a teahouse and to check out the festival booths. Spot: Nezu-jinja Shrine Access: 5 minutes on foot from Nezu Station, Sendagi Station, or Todaimae Station (Tokyo Metro) Events: Bunkyo Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri) April to May Kameido Tenjin Shrine
This shrine has 15 trellises supporting as many as 100 wisteria vines that bloom in synchronized harmony. The violet flowers look magnificent by day and especially romantic at twilight. Access: 15 minutes on foot from Kameido Station or Kinshicho Station (JR lines) Events: Kameido Tenjin Shrine Wisteria Festival April to May Kyu-Furukawa Gardens
Kyu-Furukawa Gardens offer a splendid view of some 180 roses of 90 varieties. Another beauty that’s not to be missed is a strikingly elegant Western-style brick building designed by a British architect. Here, you’ll see a fascinating harmony between the Western-style and Japanese-style gardens. Spot: Kyu-Furukawa Gardens Access: 7 minutes on foot from Nishigahara Station (Tokyo Metro) Events: Spring Rose Festival May Imperial Palace East Gardens (Kokyo Higashi Gyoen)
These gardens span an area of around 210,000 square meters. In May, the gardens’ Ninomaru Grove is tinged a rich shade of red as rhododendrons bloom. Access: 5 minutes on foot from Otemachi Station or Takebashi Station (Tokyo Metro)
Japanese ingredients blessed with distinct seasons and an abundant harvest from the sea and mountains are very rich in variety. The key appeal of Tokyo’s culinary scenes is the availability of fresh and flavorful ingredients from all over Japan. In Tokyo, a city with a long history and rich culture, you can experience everything from traditional Japanese cuisine to modern culinary trends in one place.
Traditional Japanese cuisine has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage and its basis is healthy dashi broth. Traditional seasonings used to bring out the umami (or savouriness) flavor are increasingly becoming compatible with dietary restrictions in recent years, allowing more people to enjoy dining in Japan.
For Vegetarians or Vegans
Traditional Japanese cuisine and other Japanese dishes use “dashi”, which is a broth that contains a bouillon-like umami flavor. Please note that some seemingly meat- and fish-free dishes may contain dashi broth or gelatin made from animal ingredients, such as bonito and other fish broth or meat extracts. Also, animal ingredients may be used in the seasoning or emulsifier.
For sweets, soymilk and coconut oil and the like are used instead of eggs and butter. In the gluten-free menu items, rice flour, a typical Japanese ingredient, is mainly used. The soymilk ice cream has a soothing taste and will help you have a relaxing teatime after a long journey.
Vegan-Muslim restaurants are on the rise, even among café restaurants where you can enjoy the current culinary trend of Tokyo in a casual setting. Vegan-Muslim versions of the dishes inspired by Japanese popular culture such as gyoza and karaage using soybean meat are offered in the menu.
Even though Japanese versions of foreign-origin dishes such as curry rice and ramen noodles, which have become an integral part of the unique culinary culture, usually contain meat and/or fish, vegan restaurants do not use animal ingredients and instead use vegetables and seaweed to add depth to the flavor.
Traditional Japanese seasonings such as mirin (cooking sake), soy sauce, and miso (soy paste) may contain alcohol. Furthermore, Japanese sake is also utilized a lot in cooking. Even if it is not specified in the ingredients, please note that emulsifiers with gelatin or pork-derived ingredients, or alcohol-based seasonings may be used. Please be aware that some vinegars used in sushi rice are manufactured from alcohol.
Japanese Kaiseki Restaurants
Kaiseki-ryori is a Japanese cuisine created for the enjoyment of the tea ceremony, a Japanese tradition. “Wabi-sabi”, the basis of the tea ceremony, is expressed in the course menu. While expressing the seasonality through the seasonal ingredients as well as the cherry blossoms and maple leaves that decorate the dishes, the delicate and profound Japanese culinary culture is evident in the attention to details in the presentation of the dishes. You can feel the spirit of the Japanese people, who cherish the richness of nature and a sense of the seasons, in every single dish.
The restaurant has created a multilingual booklet on the basics and etiquettes of Kaiseki cuisine to make sure our guests can safely enjoy the dining experiences with the clarifications of the ingredients.
For Muslim guests, gelatin-free and alcohol-free soy sauce is used. Halal Wagyu beef served in Teppanyaki and Shabushabu is exceptional.
For vegetarians and vegans, we have a colorful dish of vegetables in mushroom and kelp broth. You can enjoy vegetables delivered directly from contract farmers and seasonal delicacies such as edible wild plants in the spring and wild mushrooms in the fall.
We can also prepare gluten-free versions of Tempura, in which flour is usually used for batter, or soy sauce, the basic seasoning of Japanese cuisine. Guests can safely enjoy the dishes without compromising the taste.
Kaiseki cuisine contains much of the essence of good old traditional Japan. It would surely be a highlight of your trip in Japan.
Japanese Soul Food at Soba Restaurants
One of the dishes that foreign visitors to Japan always mention as the “Must try Japanese food” would be Soba or Tempura. At a Soba restaurant, you can casually enjoy everyday local food of Japanese people such as Tempura and various rice bowls as well as Soba.
Dashi broth used for noodle sauce is often made with bonito, but it is made with kombu (kelp) to make it more palatable for vegetarian and vegan guests. The noodle sauce is an important factor in determining the taste of Soba. A number of trials were made over a long time to make sure it tasted right.
It can also be made available for oriental vegetarian guests by taking out the leek seasoning. The texture of the crispy batter is the hallmark of Tempura. The texture of the batter is maintained even without eggs. Why not take this opportunity to experience a kind of soul food that is familiar to the Japanese people? * Soba (buckwheat) is an allergy item.
Japanese Dining Etiquette You Should Know
Otoshi – is a small dish like an appetizer. It is served automatically before the order, usually for the cover charge, at a place like Izakaya (casual dining bar).
Water or tea – is served as you are seated at the table. It is usually free and for consumption in house.
No food or beverage to be brought in. Please consume only what is ordered and served in house.
Oshibori – It is a small wet towel for wiping your hands provided as a courtesy. It is for use in house only and not to be taken out.
Taking off shoes – Take off your shoes before entering the tatami-matted sitting room. Place the shoes taken off in an orderly manner.
A number of orders – At an eatery, it is commonly expected to order at least one dish per person.
Tipping – There is no custom of tipping in Japanese restaurants. Please ask if the check is to be settled at the table or paid at the register.