March is the season for students to finish their school year, or graduate. They prepare for a new school or a new school year. The settlement of a company’s accounts will also be done in March.
In Japan, March is the last month of the year. To give a brief background behind that, there is one anecdote. Because Japan was an agricultural country, it is said that only two months (November and December) were not enough time for farmers to pay their taxes to the government after the autumn harvest. And after payment, the government had to prepare the next year’s budget. So the government added three more months,January, February and March, to make it easier for people’s yearly payment.
Anyway, it’s a happy season where people and plants all await the arrival of spring. The scent of daphne flowers and the scent of plum blossoms come out of nowhere along the road. Let’s enjoy the season of March in Japan.
The plum grove in Osaka Castle Park is one of the places you should definitely see in Japan. You can enjoy not only the well-known Osaka Castle, which was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but also the wonderful plum blossoms and scent of this season.
Osaka castle park
Hinamatsuri means the Doll’s Festival. Known as a girl’s festival, this event is to pray for the healthy growth of girls. After Setsubun on February 3rd, Hina dolls will be displayed at homes.
There is also an interesting superstition connected with this event. After March 3rd, if you don’t get rid of the Hina dolls right away, it is said that the girls in the family will get married late. This is a lesson implying that those women who leave such precious things out for a long time, being too lazy to clean up, wouldn’t be suitable for marriage. After all, it’s just a superstition, but they’re taught to clean up what they put out, especially for Hina dolls on a sunny day.
In the past, Hina dolls were displayed on tiers, but in recent years, due to housing circumstances, there are many kinds of Hina dolls such as small cute ones and wall decorations. There are many traditional Hina doll shops in the Matsuyamachi shopping district in Osaka, so be sure to check them out. Matsuyamachisuji Shopping Street is a place where you can enjoy the lively atmosphere just by walking through it. This street is a must-see and here are many kinds of shops lined up selling not only Hina dolls but also traditional dolls of all seasons, toys and sweets.
The second picture above is the small Hina doll decoration that I made before. The size of each doll is about 5 cm. Detailed work is necessary!
Matsuyamachisuji Shopping Street/松屋町筋商店街
Syun (seasonal food)
The food I recommend in March
Scattered sushi, known as chirashizushi, is the best choice (or most commonly eaten) for the Doll’s Festival. At the Doll’s Festival, traditionally each family makes chirashizushi.
At my house, I make all the ingredients myself. It’s a part of the fun to enjoy the process of making it with your kids and family members.
Here are brief steps on how to make chirashizushi
It’s a long process to cook it from scratch, so here I’ll introduce you to an easy version of chirashizushi and ※rice balls (the picture above is what I made.).
- Cook rice. Just add a chirashizushi mix (source or powder) to rice.
- Mix mentsuyu and an egg together to make a thin seasoned omelet and cut it into strips. Cut carrots in a flower shape and simmer them in boiled mentsuyu. Cut the green beans (or cucumber) into thin strips. Sprinkle sakura denbu (or any sprinkles or ingredients of your choice).
- Place chirashizushi on a plate and sprinkle shredded eggs, flower-shaped carrots, shredded green beans, etc. on top.
※ Make rice balls and wrap them in ham, seaweed, thin egg and cucumber, etc.
We Japanese enjoy our dishes not only by tasting them but also by viewing them. So enjoy chirashizushi by touching, looking, smelling, and last but not least, tasting on March 3rd!
- ちらしずしをお皿に盛ってその上に卵の千切り、花型のにんじん、千切りのさやえんどうなど を散らしてできあがり。
My other sweets recommendation during this time is sakuramochi. Sakuramochi is a pink rice cake filled with red bean paste wrapped in a salt pickled cherry leaf. The cherry leaf may or may not be eaten, depending on individual preference. Especially Kansai style sakuramochi is the most delicious one yet. Pickled cherry leaf is edible, and I recommend eating the leaf and mochi together because that combination is really tasty. Let’s try to eat sakuramochi without peeling the leaf.
If you go to a department store or a mall, you will find a lot of seasonal items such as Hina cake and Hinamatsuri chirashizushi. Don’t miss the food department and confectionery department of department stores and malls. There are Hankyu Department Store, Hanshin Department Store, Daimaru Department Store, Osaka Takashimaya, Kintetsu Department Store, and more.
I love all the seasons in Japan. My mother has a great sensitivity to nature, sincerely loving every season. So thanks to my mother, I grew up embracing each season we have in Japan. I hope you too can experience and enjoy that seasonal beauty of Japan.
I’m a clay artist, and have my own shop in Ikaruga town, Nara, which is near Horyuji temple: world heritage site. And I’m a volunteer English tour guide there. I enjoy learning English everyday.