Hanami” is the traditional Japanese custom of welcoming spring through the magnificent cherry blossom festival.
As Melbourne changes seasons, our head chef Kota Ogawa, brings us the promise of stunning things to come through the lens of his camera, following his recent visit back to Japan.
As they say, “a picture tells a thousand words”, so I’ll let my photos tell this part of the story of my recent trip back to Japan.
My visit to Japan last month, was perfectly timed for “hanami” – the traditional Japanese custom of appreciating the beauty of nature and welcoming spring – through the stunning cherry blossom festival.
The significance of the “sakura”, or cherry blossom tree, in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years, where it represents the fragility and the beauty of life.
The arrival of the blossom has always signalled the beginning of spring, a time for optimism and renewal.
Spring in Japan is also the beginning of the Japanese calendar year, with students beginning their first day of school, employees starting their first day at a new job –the future is full of endless possibilities.
So, with the arrival of spring, friends, family – everyone – gathers under the blooming cherry blossoms for food, drink, music, friendship and the stunning cherry blossoms or “sakura”.
Celebrations that begin in the day and last often, well into the night.
The style of food during hanami reflects fresh flavours, optimism, new growth and endless possibilities – and importantly, sharing and celebrating with family and friends.
While Melbourne is getting cooler, we can still enjoy the fresh flavours, optimism and endless possibilities of the seasonal En Izakaya menu – and importantly, sharing and celebrating with family and friends.
About En Izakaya Head Chef – Kota Ogawa
Kota Ogawa has held the title of Head Chef at En Izakaya for the last 4 years.
Born and raised in Takayama, Gifu prefecture, Ogawa-san had previously completed Japanese cuisine training under the supervision of a Japanese chef. Other notable employment positions included working in a ‘2 chef hat’ venue in Melbourne with a Michelin restaurant trained chef. He holds a Certificate 4 in commercial cookery.
Kota Ogawa’s Philosophies
As one can appreciate, Ogawa has several philosophies and thoughts regarding Japanese cuisine and specifically the growth in popularity of izakaya.
“I feel passionately that Japanese food should be kept simple and at the same time highlighting the ingredients.
The usage of seasonal ingredients is vital in maintaining a balanced menu. “When I use ingredients that are in season, it means they are super fresh and full of natural flavours.
Izakaya food is not your typical Japanese restaurant food. It is more a collection of small dishes that are designed to be shared among friends.