Tag: Cherry blossoms

Flora & Fauna

Spring has undoubtedly arrived and with it comes the annual cherry blossom gazing.  {See previous years’ here and here.}  The UW Quad was once again flooded with revelers, all with their camera gear in tow and giddy smiles at the ready.  Pink and white blossoms also adorned the tranquil Seattle Japanese Garden.  A glimpse at the scene this weekend as we welcomed the new season …

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms at UW QuadTurtles at Seattle Japanese Garden (more…)

Tokyo {Part II}

When we arrive in an unfamiliar city, we usually take a Hop-on Hop-off bus ride to get our bearings, but since Tokyo is so vast and the audio guide seriously lacking, we ditched the bus and made our way to Ueno Park.  Although the cherry blossoms have long fallen {missed them by two weeks}, we spotted a late blooming tree with its pale pink blossoms barely clinging on as well as a manhole in sakura motif.

Ueno Park, TokyoUeno Park, TokyoUeno Park, Tokyo, cherry blossom, sakuraUeno Park, Tokyo, JapanUeno Park, Tokyo, Japan, man hole

We had an early dinner that evening at Sukiyabashi Jiro in the Roppongi Hills area {Jiro’s son Takashi’s restaurant}.  Roppongi is a lovely upscale area where all the buildings, shops, and residences looked newly constructed and pristine.  Having watched the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, we were expecting a rather stern and serious meal, but Takashi-san was friendly, relaxed, and quite chatty, even complimenting Andy on his chopsticks skills and noting our politeness.  The sushi was as fresh as can be and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo

Tokyo {Part I}

The lingering effects of jetlag have worn off and I finally had a chance to sift through the many photos of our time in Japan.  Upon checking in to Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel {conveniently located near Shibuya station, right in the thick of things}, we were upgraded to a spacious room with a breathtaking view of Tokyo’s awe-inspiring cityscape … dense urban sprawl as far as the eye can see.

We knew about the sheer vastness of Tokyo and its maze-like layout, but the message hit home when our seasoned taxi driver had to enter Kadowaki restaurant’s address into his navigation system as we headed out for what would be the first of many memorable meals. Look for Kadowaki’s discreet little entrance {pictured} located off a narrow sidestreet. Kadowaki’s chef Toshiya Kadowaki famously turned down a Michelin star listing when Michelin rankings first came to Japan.  Judging by the furtive glances and nervous looks from the apprentice on duty, Andy and I were on our best behavior.  With chef Kadowaki at the helm presiding over dinner, out of respect {and feeling a little intimidated} I did not take pictures, but the meticulous preparation and precision with which the chef prepared our meal was a sight to behold … a study in ultimate efficiency on a small counter space against a backdrop of hundreds of neatly stacked dishes, plates, and bowls, everything with its own singular purpose.  Though there were many, outstanding dishes for me were the truffle rice and crab egg custard {hot} served with squid ink and shrimp sorbet {cold}. Dessert was truffle honey over strawberries and ricotta cheese sauce.  Simply heavenly.

The next day, we took the subway over to Ginza and wandered around Mitsukoshi department store where we worked up an appetite before our reservations at Alain Ducasse’s Beige restaurant atop the Chanel boutique.  I recall working on clearing the BEIGE trademark years ago and reading about its opening in WWD, so it was a treat to experience the place in person.  The dishes were delightfully presented as well as delicious, and the decor was predictably chic.

Beige, Alain Ducasse, Tokyo, Japan, Ginza

Ginza, Mikimoto, Tokyo, Japan

After lunch, we made our way toward Tokyo station, which in and of itself would take days to explore, and then somehow managed to locate the bus to Tokyo Tower, a smaller orange version of the Eiffel Tower.

Tokyo train station, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Dinner that night was at Narisawa, perhaps the most innovative cuisine I have ever experienced to date, engaging all senses along with the imagination.  No wonder it is haled as the best restaurant in Asia.  The theme of the night was inspired by the forest in springtime and dish after dish was a wholly new and magical take on the natural wonders of the forest.  The first dish quite literally resembled the ground covering and dirt, but tasted like airy morsels of tempura-ed vegetables.  Captivated, we watched as the dough for our bread rose slowly in a glass sitting in heated water.  Then it was transferred into a sizzling hot stone bowl and seared-baked right in front of us.  The result was a bread like no other with a perfectly crunchy shell and soft doughy goodness inside.  Another wondrous dish of Spanish mackerel and onion essence arrived under a glass dome containing smoke from cherry blossoms, its delicate scent quickly evaporated as the dome was lifted.  Everything was exquisite … an unforgettable evening, indeed.

Les Creations de Narisawa restaurant, Tokyo, Japan

Streets of Tokyo

Tokyo shrine

Scenes from our wanderings … a small shrine tucked between modern buildings amid a bustling mid-day market.  Much more to come.

Sakura in UW Quad

Once again, we joined the throngs of sakura {cherry blossom} admirers that gather at University of Washington’s Liberal Arts Quadrangle each year.  It was Easter Sunday and the sun was shining, illuminating the clouds of cotton candy pink blossoms in full bloom. Take a look at last year’s sakura post taken with my iPhone compared to this year’s taken with the new Nikon D600.  Which do you prefer?  Is it true that from an aerial view the trees form the letter W?  Something I will have to verify and capture … maybe next year.

sakura, cherry blossoms, UW, quad

Sakura, cherry blossoms, UW, Quad

Sakura, cherry blossoms, UW, Quad

Cherry blossoms, sakura, UW Quad

UW, Red Square

sakura, cherry blossoms, UW, quad

Sakura in Bloom

Perhaps the most beautiful sign of Spring is the blooming of cherry trees, their branches loaded with soft blossoms forming cotton candy pink canopies and a cascade of petals, falling gently on winding pathways and softening each step like a light dusting of white snow.  Against the terra cotta facades of the gothic buildings around University of Washington’s Liberal Arts Quadrangle, 31 Yoshino cherry trees are in full bloom, drawing scores of admirers to stand beneath their branches, gazing up at their magnificent beauty.

cherry blossomscherry blossomsAn exquisitely detailed image of sakura (cherry blossom), courtesy of CHI Fo’tography. Keep reading below for more.Cherry blossoms