Murai Family & Hanami

The Modern Art Of Hanami Is A Celebration Of Spring

Our original partner and teacher, Momokawa Brewing Japan (AKA Murai Family) operates a saké brewery in Aomori Prefecture where winter snow can be quite deep and spring is highly anticipated. To celebrate spring the family engages in the Hanami, a time to gather together and enjoy the signs of much improving weather - flower blossoms. As we come closer to Spring, we'd like to share this tradition with you.

A tradition as old as Hanami  (flower viewing) undergoes a range of changes as it grows and spreads through a society. Dating back to the Nara Period (710 - 794 AD), Hanami originated as gatherings to view Ume (Plum) flowers as they came into bloom. In later years Sakura (Cherry) flowers rose to the flower of choice and Ume viewing became a bit passé, for older people. And, while we're talking blossoms, let's not forget Peach blossoms, Momo. Beautiful.

MomoBlossomAt one time Hanami was for royalty and the elite of Japan but as time carried the idea forward it became and event for the Samurai and ultimately all people.

Modern day Japan keeps the focus on Sakura blossoms as they begin to peak out from the grey of winter. Families and friends gather in parks to celebrate beneath the blooming trees with picnics and parties that can go late into the night.

In the U.S. the passage from winter to spring brings the blooms of cherry trees all over the country. Some cities like Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon hold Sakura Festivals to celebrate the blooms just as done in Japan. Yet with a focus on cherry blossoms, so many amazing flowers are missed as we look skyward, past the Daffodils at our feet.

May we suggest a modern twist to the ancient passion of Hanami? Consider focusing your eyes up to the Sakura or Ume tree but also down to the Crocus, Daffodil and all flowers in bloom as we head into spring.  Pause and take time to enjoy the bright colors of spring and do so with friends and family.

Plan your own Hanami gathering and encourage people to bring bunches of the flowers in bloom to decorate your home. And do so, of course, with saké and food.

We have asked some of our Portland area Izakaya Chefs (Michael from Miho, Janis from Tanuki & Gabe from Biwa) to help you plan your Hanami gathering with a special dish prepared to be enjoyed with one of our Murai Family saké. There are three recipes and you can find the saké at better bottle shops around the country or our website.

The goal is food and saké pairings that are perfect for gatherings of friends and family. Each chef worked diligently to craft a dish that enhances the experience of the individual saké. They have done an amazing job, making it easier for you to impress your guests.

You can download the recipe sheets and use them to make the recipe precisely or to get your creative juices flowing. Simply click on the recipe sheets below to open and print the pdf. Place cards for each dish and sake are also available to print and cut out by clicking HERE. Have fun and enjoy the season.