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March 01, 2006
Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

There couldn’t have been a better time for me to visit Japan this year. My goals were simple: I wanted to catch up with friends, run around Tokyo as I always did when I lived there, visit an onsen (hot spring) over the weekend and casually enjoy some good food. I had no intention to write a feature for this trip since the focus was not culinary. But with the arrival of spring, the gorgeous views of plum blossoms in full bloom on the Izu Peninsula and Mt. Fuji covered in a veil of white snow in the background, I was inspired to write just a few words to welcome the new season…and mention the soba restaurant in Hakone at which it has become my tradition to stop by on my way to the hot springs.

My friend Yumiko arranged a wonderful weekend trip to Hakone — part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and one of the most popular tourist destinations for hot springs that is relatively close to Tokyo. The beauty of staying at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with a hot spring is to enjoy not only the onsen but also the lavish Japanese-style dinner and breakfast that is part of the deal. After a night of bathing and relaxation, the following morning, we drove out to the Izu Peninsula to view the plum blossoms (cherry blossoms bloom later in early to mid-April).We struck heavy traffic returning to Tokyo, as the rest of the city had apparently been with us in Izu appreciating the plum blossoms in all their glory. All three photos above were taken around Shuzenji Temple in Izu. Just looking at the picturesque, tall-standing bamboos behind the plum blossom trees rejuvenates me.

Please join me in welcoming the arrival of spring!

Soba A. Teuchisoba Gen 手打ち蕎麦 彦(げん)

Teuchisoba Gen serves two different types of buckwheat noodles: the regular seiro noodles that you’ll find on the menus of all soba restaurant’s and the specialty, gen noodles, which are made with less finely ground soba grains so you can see and taste the graininess. The added texture of the gen noodles makes them absolutely delicious, especially if... full article