Sunday, was forecast for rain...
Unfortunately, we had previously booked ourselves on a one-day tour in Nara...
The tour started out with a visit to the Fujiwara Imperial Site.
This area was once the site of the capital of Japan, long, long, ago.
During the Spring, there are over 2.5 million rapeseed blossoms.
There are also huge cherry trees. Perfect for picnic-ing under.
This is how it looks from about the middle of the field.
The next stop was Hozoji. A temple located in a remote area of Nara.
This is the home of a 433 year old cherry tree...
Which apparently has the same DNA of the cherry tree at Daigoji in Kyoto.
I have a slo-mo video of the swaying branches here
A light meal was provided...kaki no ha sushi (persimmon leaf sushi).
2 pieces of salmon and 2 pieces of mackrel wrapped in persimmon leaves...and some tea.
Then we backtracked a bit to see the Matabeizakura.
This tree is apparently over 300 years old (huge, yeah?!)
You can get a feel as to how large the area is with this video here.
Our last stop was Morino Yoshino Kuzu Honpo, one of the last three makers (in Japan) of kuzu (arrowroot). This property also has all sorts of flowers and herbs growing too.
The kuzu (arrowroot) is extracted in these vats during the winter months.
One particular flower on their property that we saw was katakuri (dogtooth violets) which is the ingredient originally used for katakuriko.
Katakuriko is translated these days as potato starch because the bulk of it is now made from potatoes, but originally the starch was extracted from these flowers.
An interesting architectual feature of homes in this area are these sub-roofs called kemurigaeshi (literally return the smoke), over the kitchen areas these sub-roofs/vents would take the smoke from the kitchen outside of the homes.
Since water is very clear and clean in this area, there are several shoyu and sake makers.
We bought some shoyu moromi (mash of soy beans that undergo fermentation with bacteria, yeasts and molds) from Kurokawa Shoyu to try, as it is supposed to be good with cut veggies and rice.
Everyone on the tour received a package of these sange.
According to the explanation on the package, flower petals are scattered in order to worship all Buddhas during ceremonies at Buddhist temples. This is called "Sange".
Originally fresh lotus petals were used but over time have been replaced by these lotus petal shaped pieces of paper. At special ceremonies, thousands of these multi-colored petals are scattered from the rooftops.
Despite the forecast for rain, we were lucky that we only encountered some clouds and a slight drizzle.
We enjoyed this tour because it was quite laid back and we were not rushing around to see everything.
I hope you also enjoyed this as much as we did.