Arts & Culture / Mosaic / May 7, 2009

Japanese Club brings Ohanami to campus

In Japan, spring is the perfect time for celebration. And so, armed with flowers, food and drinks, many Japanese head to local parks for picnics and other outdoor activities. The celebration is called Ohanami.

This year, as they have for the past three years, Japanese Club hosted an event that allowed students from all backgrounds to join in the festivities.

“I really like this event because other people come to help make the food,” said junior and Japanese Club member Yumi Kusunoki.

The Japanese Club organized the event so that anyone who signed up could come to the Asian Culture House on Sunday and learn how to make the dish before the lunch. The students were sprawled all across the kitchen, dining room and living room of the house, chopping vegetables and rolling rice. The menu for the event consisted of chicken, potato salad, rice balls, vegetable tempura, and apples.

Junior and Japanese Club member Saori Moriizumi said she does not cook often when she is at home in Tokyo, so teaching others sometimes got rough.

“We’re trying to figure out how to make the dishes too,” said Moriizumi. “We’re not confident. We’re not cooks.”

The food, however, still turned out well, the girls agreed. They said sometimes it can be hard to find all the ingredients they need to make their Japanese dishes because they are not readily available in most American supermarkets. However, for this occasion they used more common American ingredients for each dish. Kusunoki said that using such ingredients would make it easier for participants to make the Ohanami dishes on their own.

Kusunoki said that when she is at home, in Osaka, she usually celebrates Ohanami by helping her mother prepare food and going to a community park for the picnic and flower watching.

“People go there to look at the flowers, but they are more into eating,” said Kusunoki. “Ohanami is good because the weather is nice. The Japanese summer is humid and not as nice as it is here.”

Kusunoki said it is often necessary for families and groups to find a spot in the park early for Ohanami and block off their section so they have a place to picnic. Many companies have large parties there and space can be tight.

Moriizumi, who lives in Tokyo, said she did not celebrate Ohanami with as big of a celebration when she was at home. She might go for a walk through the park with her family, but they did not celebrate.

Over 25 students helped the Japanese club cook for and celebrate Ohanami, a turnout that Kusunoki said the club appreciated.

Laura Miller

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