Monday, August 2, 2010

Picnics Japanese style

Today, I am happy to welcome a guest blogger, Alexis Bonari, who shares with us the charming customs of picnicking Japanese style. Thank you Alexis!

Picnics Japanese Style

If anyone enjoys a good picnic more than Americans and the French, it would be the Japanese. Many of their traditional holidays incorporate picnics into the festivity plans. If you ever need an excuse to have a picnic, here are a few Japanese picnic traditions to savor:

Moon Viewing Festival (O-tsukimi):
The moon is believed to be the most beautiful it will be all year on O-tsukimi. Therefore, the people of Japan arrange nighttime picnics to view the moon and the fireflies that are abundant at this time of the year.

O-tsukimi is celebrated on August 15th of the Japanese Lunar Calendar. Because the dates of the lunar calendar change from year to year, the actual date to celebrate O-tsukimi usually occurs in September or October of the standard calendar. Derived from an equivalent Chinese holiday over 1000 years ago, the traditions associated with O-tsukmi have long since taken on a completely unique, Japanese set of characteristics.

Foods are prepared to represent the moon. Dumplings and satiomo (taro potatoes) are served to guests. These are also offered on an altar to the moon. Other important foods are pumpkin and chestnuts. Food is eaten outside on the grass or just inside the doors of a teahouse.

Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami):
The end of March and the beginning of April mark the beginning of Hanami, cherry blossom viewing time. During this popular holiday, Japanese take time out to sit under the cherry trees and indulge in a picnic. Walkways between the trees are illuminated by torches, allowing the picnic festivities to continue into the night.

Traditional picnic foods are prepared at home and brought to the gathering in bento boxes. (These are wooden or lacquered boxes with partitions in them for different varieties of food.) Foods commonly brought to a Hanami celebration include: fish cakes with pink designs, spring herb dumplings, grilled fish, simmered spring vegetables, and other artfully arranged delicacies (

Japan has a long cultural history of celebrating nature. It is therefore no surprise that outdoor eating holds a special place in their festive traditions.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching areas of online education. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Don't forget the Saki.