As the winter solstice has passed and it is now getting into a much colder period of the year, we say, “If Winter comes Spring is not far”. The “7 herb rice porridge”, a bowl of porridge we have on January 7, has 7 different kinds of herbs. We used to memorize the phrase, “water dropwort, shepherd’s purse, Jersey cudweed, starwort, nipplewort, turnip and daikon radish are the 7 herbs of Spring”.
These days it has become quite convenient as we can buy pre-assembled sets for the porridge at supermarkets and make it at home very easily. These 7 herbs that grow in early Spring are purported to have powers to fend off evil. Therefore, people in the past used to eat the porridge wishing for good health and peace for the year. Nowadays, it serves as the perfect dish for our stomachs fatigued from New Year's feasting.
Clear skies after a heavy snow are called yukibare (clear sky after snow) or miyukibare (clear sky after heavy snow). Hiroshige Utagawa, an ukiyo-e artist of the late Edo period, drew “Nihonbashi, Clearing After Snow” as the 1st picture for his “100 Famous Views of Edo”. It depicts the bustling scene at Nihonbashi, where Edo’s main fish market was once located, and the starting-point for the 5 Routes of Edo connecting the city to the outer provinces.
He also drew “Dawn Snow in Nihonbashi” for “12 Snow Scenes of the East” and continued to draw other various scenes of post-snow clear skies of Nihonbashi, such as “A New Selection of Famous Places of Edo: Clear Weather After Snow at Nihonbashi Bridge”, “Famous Places of Eastern Capital: Nihonbashi in Snow” and “Famous Places of Eastern Capital: Clear Morning After Snow in Nihonbashi”.
Untainted white snow covers everything alike, creating scenes of unworldly beauty. Such scenery seems to stimulate our artistic senses beyond time, regardless of what age we live in. I wish to stay clean-spirited at least on such clear days after snow…
“Kochi fukaba, nioi okoseyo ume no hana, aruji nashitote, haru wo wasuruna” (quoted from Shui Wakashu) or “When the east wind blows, send me your bouquet, plum blossoms! Even though you lose your master, don't be oblivious to spring.” Sugawara no Michizane, the deified master of learning, wrote this poem after he was exiled to Dazaifu, Kyushu. Some of you might have thought that the ending was “haru wo wasureso” (you mustn’t be oblivious to spring”). Yes, you are right. The poem’s ending varies depending on the sources. According to Jikkinsho, the poem ends with “haru wo wasureso”. However the ending may be, plum blossoms are essential flowers of early Spring in Japan.
Plum blossom motifs have been used for various items, including family crests. Nejiri-ume is a variant of many plum blossom-based patterns. This kodaishu colored small Japanese-lacquered serving plate is rather large for its kind. The dark vermillion color gives it a calm, elegant look. You will find the dish very handy, not just for its traditional purpose as a serving plate for sweets, but as a side plate as well.
Yamada Heiando Meimeizara nejiriume 5 plate set: ¥7,020
Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store Main Building 5th Floor Select Japanese Tableware
Blasting the heater because of how cold it is makes our skin dry. Caring for the skin of our bodies and hands is essential, but please don’t forget about your throat either. How about trying honey drinks?
“Honey Marinade” is made from ginger and lemon soaked in honey with notes of cinnamon. You can enjoy it in various ways. If you mix it in hot water, it becomes honey ginger herb tea. If mixed in English tea, it becomes honey ginger herb black tea. You can add it to sparkling water and enjoy it as honey ginger ale. It is also refreshing to have as a cool drink in a warm room. The marinated lemon and ginger can be eaten as-is, or sliced and used for baking cakes and cookies.
L’ABEILLE Honey Marinade ginger & lemon (240g): ¥1,728
Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store New Building 2nd Basement Floor L’ABEILLE
Some of you might have been surprised to see the price. But there is a reason! It is made from German male calf leather called “Togo”. First of all, the color is just beautiful. There are 10 different color varieties and all of them have beautiful coloring. Also the choice of colors is brilliant as well. The unique grain of the leather is another point: the fine texture reveals the superlative quality of the leather.
It fits nicely in your hand and is comfortable to use. It opens sideways like a book and there are card pockets inside as well – very useful for storing your IC cards and point cards.
Your smartphone is something that you carry all the time. It is good to choose the case you like upon careful deliberation, as it will stay by your side for a long time.
BONAVENTURA smartphone case (for iPhone 7/8): ¥12,960
Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store Main Building 1st Floor Handbags
*iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc.
*iPhone itself is not for sale.
After the New Year, we have many clear days in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. Even though it is cold, it is so refreshing to walk under clear skies. We can appreciate the cool brisk feeling akin to the day of yukibare. On top of that, in recent years the Nihonbashi district itself has transformed from a place you visit with a specific objective in mind, to an area where you can think about what to do next as you walk along. Just ambling around, you discover many options for what to do. Whether it is a holiday or weekday, this kind of area where “we can think about what to do next as we walk along” is always fun and fulfilling. For example, having a morning stroll in Nihonbashi you remember that the ink for your fountain pens ran out so you pop into Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store and get ink at the fountain pen section. There, you come across an interesting art exhibition. You stop by and come up with a good gift idea for your beloved teacher whom you will be seeing that evening. You resume your walk again, playing with fun thoughts in mind, and feeling the passing season by your side.
*Please click here for the floor guide and opening hours of Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store.
Information: Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store TEL: 03-3241-3311(Main Switchboard)