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Taste of Spring

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Spring in Japan

Japan is often said to be a land of four seasons. But there are actually a lot stages of the seasons including early, mid and late seasons.

With early spring in the air, there are a lot of indications of the changing of the season, apart from the gradually warming days. There are special fruits and vegetables that become edible at this time, and there are plants and animal reactions to the weather that are fascinating.

In this blog for Japanese learners, Japanese teacher Miki Oosawa talks about some special signs of spring in her hometown of Nagano. You can listen to the blog with the YouTube video and also learn new vocabulary and Kanji too.

Our house's taste of spring











To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video.






Our house's taste of spring

I was raised in a small town in Nagano prefecture. In my town, even when March came along, there were still a lot of cold days, but when I catch the scent of wind or see the flower buds poking out from under the snow, I get a sense of spring.

Every year in spring, my father would go and gather 'san sai' plants from the mountain on our plot. 'San sai' plants are edible plants that grow wild in the mountains. There are a variety of edible wild plants that grow in the mountains, starting with 'fukitou' (or Japanese butterbur) and 'tara no ki' (Japanese angelica tree) in March. When I was a child I used to think that these plants tasted bitter and strange, but the older I get, the more I have become able to appreciate their flavour.

But the key wild edible plant that is served at our house is 'Udo' (or Aralia cordata). In the old days, my grandmother used to make Tempura out of them, or simmer them with sparkling Enope squid. Now I have learned to make it myself as a treat that goes well with Sake. Within the unique bitter flavour that 'Udo' has, there is a fresh taste that whenever I eat it, I feel that spring has come.

Do you have any particular food in your country that make you feel the spring season?

春(はる)の味(あじ)     a taste of spring

風(かぜ)の匂(にお)い    scent of wind

花(はな)の芽(め)      flower bud

山菜(さんさい)       edible wild plants

自生(じせい)している    grow wild

食卓(しょくたく)にのぼる  serve up

煮物(にもの)        simmered food

お供(とも)         go well with

苦味(にがみ)        bitter taste

爽(さわ)やかな風味(ふうみ) fresh taste


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When I was a child, I used to perform a musical instrument, and played various kinds of music including pop and jazz. I also love to look at old buildings like temples and shrines and so I often travel. In my class, I would like to introduce some of Japanese culture and the traditions, through learning Japanese, and also introduce some of the characteristics of Japanese people. Lets face our goals together and go for it !

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Guest Sunday, 24 October 2021