Sweetened Spring / by 3.1

Earlier on this month, a week or so before the madness in Westminster happened, we headed into town to get a few bits and pieces and take a look at the cherry blossom in St James' Park. Most of the best blossom however came about when the skies were grey(!) (Though you'll see from my previous hanami wanderings that one of the best blooms happened to be local!), but I didn't realise that there were that many prunus trees in such a small park.

We also popped into the Strand branch of Minamto Kitchoan, a lovely shop that sells Japanese confectionery, or wagashi (和菓子); the main branch is on Piccadilly, but I prefer the Strand one as it's not as busy.

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The shop reminded us very much of the confectionery gift shops that you find in many of the larger railway stations throughout Japan (and of course the wonderful matcha baumkuchen that we picked up in Kyoto Station... which was very quickly consumed in one sitting when we managed to get it back to London), with a mixture of seasonal as well as signature treats. It was thus difficult to walk out of the shop empty handed; one had to exercise a lot of restraint to just walk away with a couple of tsuya (津弥) pancakes and just one box of matcha kasutera (かすてら) cake (a sponge cake, sweetened with honey).

抹茶かすてら... and it didn't last long...

抹茶かすてら... and it didn't last long...

One of the main reasons for popping into the shop however was to see the beautiful display of ornamental dolls that are normally on display in time for a festival day on 3rd March called Hinamatsuri, or Doll's Day (or Girls' Day). The display of hina-ningyō (雛人形) dolls took up most of the shop floor!

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