Sakura season has peaked, making for far fewer crowds and a carpet of fallen petals. I couldn’t wait to get home to eat this other-wordly sakura ohagi from a new favourite Kumaya・熊屋. The base is sweet sticky rice with the most delicate and smooth blend of white bean and fragrant sakura paste glazed on top. I don’t usually get ohagi, they are often more lunch sized than snack sized but this was so amazing I couldn’t get over it; possible the best ohagi I have ever had.
Here are a few more sakura pictures near the castle ruins aka my snack spot (featuring some urban wildlife).
Sakura mochi in its natural habitat. This is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Japan so here is an uncategorized assortment of pictures I took over a few days in Maizuru Park, near the old castle and ruins near my place. I’m so lucky I can walk over every day to see the blossoms change.
It’s truly spring, the sakura are starting to come out, the sakura mochi are out in full force, life is good. I love sakura mochi so much, the sweetness of the red bean paste, the floral sakura and the salty pickled leaf. It’s one of my favourite signs of spring.
This is from Tugi! It was a special limited edition set for White Day, a very unique commercial holiday in Japan that thankfully brings lots of sweets.
These were the best? Of all? I couldn’t get over how good they were. Let’s take a closer look.
From right to left: ハート・Heart- coarse red bean paste & marscapone, 春のかおり・Spring Fragrance- it is a miniature sakura mochi with pickled leaf wrapped in a namagashi, I truly screamed this was the best thing I have ever, ever eaten , & 苺ちゃん・Strawberry Child- a tiny fresh strawberry covered with white chocolate infused white bean paste and sweet sticky mochi.
I called back to order another round but unsurprisingly they sold out and my life will never be the same.
New matcha day! This is from a family run shop near me. It’s maybe in between the other 2 most recent matcha powders I have bought. This is a sakura yōkan dorayaki・桜羊羹どら焼き that consists of jellied sakura and bean paste wrapped inside of a cute pancake. It was lovely and nice.
After work I usually go out for a walk to detach a bit and I often take a green path behind my place. There was so many beautiful magnolia trees I had to come back in the daylight so really see them.
It’s been ages since I’ve been to Dazaifu! Hōmanzan is one of the most popular hikes in Fukuoka but there’s always lots to see.
What I wanted to do was start a few train stations north and walk my way down south to the temples. However, what I actually really wanted to do was eat umegae mochi・梅ヶ枝餅 for breakfast. This is about as quiet as it gets here. Plum blossom season is finishing up but I got treated to a lovely display of them.
After looking around the temples I made my way up to the trailhead. The way up is a lot of stairs. A lof of stairs. The elevation changes pretty quickly and you can use the views as an excuse to catch your breath.
The views at the top of Hōmanzan are some of my favourite in all of Fukuoka.
Onwards and upwards, there’s a few more peaks I hit on the way to Sangunsan.
I had blocked Sangunsan out of my memory but halfway there it came back to me. This is, without question, one of the ugliest summits of all time. It’s a defense base, there’s electric fences, barbed wire, and pylons. Whatever, the loop I do to complete it is very, very beautiful. Another thing I blocked out, getting really lost last time I went down to the waterfalls. This time I faired quite a bit better and stayed focused. The yellow symbol written on the rock means ‘mountain’; helpful!
Whenever I leave Japan I will truly miss stumbling into scenery like this. At this point, I’m a little under 6 hours into the hike and have only one focus: getting back to the main street before the snack shops close.
Good news, lots of snacks to be had! The pink thing is a strawberry mont blanc, from a super popular shop that magically had no line up so I rushed in. It was really good! There is a meringue underneath, topped with soft serve ice cream and finally strawberry paste. In the cup in ume ( sour plum) flavoured amazake (fermented rice beverage)・梅甘酒 that was truly amazing. It’s a really popular thing to eat and drink tea under the flowering trees but I was on a mission. I picked up a couple things to take home for later and went back to the very adorable train station.
This morning I woke, Disney princess style, to birds singing and chirping away on my balcony. They were the uguisu・ウグイス, the tiny, green birds are a sign of early spring and I have such fond memories of seeing them for the first time in Fukuoka last spring. Seems fate was pointing me to go to Kichi Zoh and get their absolutely beautiful red bean paste filled bird.
A place I have often referenced, Tugi is one of my favourite places in Fukuoka. This is the store! It’s so, so, so beautiful and the staff are so kind and helpful. It’s truly a joy to be in there. As it is Setsubun・節分, an early spring festival to push out evil spirits and welcome in good fortune, I took home the yellow and black ‘devil pants’ with cinnamon and fermented butter in red bean paste and the ‘face of good fortune’ manju. Without exaggeration, the devil pants were the best wagashi I have ever had.