Food quiz no.1

Gyōmusūpā — literally”business supermarket” — sells things like catering-size bottles of sauce and sack-size bags of coffee, and has been rivalling Costco in popularity recently, partly thanks to being featured in various TV commercials thinly disguised as bona fide shows.

Below are some pictures are of an interesting — and surprisingly yummy — food item that Mrs. M brought back from Gyōmusūpā the other week, but can you guess what it is?

(A hint: although it may appear to be, it’s not a chopped-up tree branch.)

Cherry blossom 桜

It’s a miracle: we have cherry blossom in our back garden!

Not exactly a long-cherished dream, but I wanted something nice to look at instead of a brown metal fence and in the interests of cultural integration, decided that a cherry tree would be appropriate.

This time last year, I bought a cherry sapling from the local hardware/garden store, read the instructions for planting it — along with some online advice — and, with a little help from M Jr. and M Jr. II, dug a very big hole.

I filled this with compost and fertiliser and planted the sapling, but my timing wasn’t the best, as an unseasonally hot and dry spell in spring was followed by a prolonged rainy season, during which it was cloudy and wet almost every day for two months.

Basically, the cherry tree never looked anything other than dead from pretty much the moment it went in the ground. I was tempted to uproot it and plant another one this year, but mainly through laziness, decided to leave it be in the very remote hope that it might come back to life. And this it did: from looking like nothing more than a dry twig until a fortnight ago, one morning I went to put out the rubbish and noticed that some buds had appeared.

Fast forward to a day or two ago (I’m writing this in the first week of April, when most cherry blossom has already bloomed and fallen to the ground) and this was how the cherry tree looked.

There is still a possibility that it will fail to survive a hot summer, a cold winter, or a typhoon, but with any luck we’ll be able to invite friends to a hanami picnic in our back garden in a year or two. Before we do, I really need to grow a lawn on which to put the picnic blanket; at the moment there are a few lonely looking patches of grass, but more in the way of weeds and dusty, stony earth.