HANAMI

The cherry blossoms were in full bloom while we were in Tokyo! We didn’t go to any dedicated hanami parties, but we took the time to appreciate the flowers whenever we saw them.

Yotsuya station, on the way to Korakuen.

Walking towards the Imperial Palace.

Chidori-ga-fuchi Park.

And Suidobashi, when we got lost trying to find some wrestling merch retailers. Finding this shrine was much more satisfying.

LUPICIA, JIYUGAOKA

For Joe’s last day in Tokyo, we went to the flagship store of his favorite tea company, Lupicia, for shopping and brunch.

The store is in Jiyugaoka, a short walk from the train station. Jiyugaoka is a relatively small neighborhood, but more upscale than most, with plenty of tree-lined avenues and independent boutiques.

Lupicia is massive, and gorgeously laid out. Their entire collection of tea is set out on shelves that you can browse, but most of the ground floor is dedicated to fancy displays for different new or limited flavors. There’s also a little bakery in the corner with tons of sweets and pastries for sale.

If you’re interested in sampling teas, you can pick up cards with each flavor’s name and info, and ask the staff about trying them. There are tables towards the back of the showroom where you can sit while one of the clerks prepares a tea tasting for you.

Ms. Sengoku(? if I was reading her name tag correctly) went through a really elaborate process of heating the water, and heating the cups and teapots, in order to make sure everything was brewed at the right temperature. It was reminiscent of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony in some ways, but adapted for Western teas. Either way, it’s such impressive service!

Once we’d finished up all our shopping, we headed to the cafe on the second floor. There’s a terrace cafe on the roof, as well, but it was closed for renovations at the time. Oh well! The weather wasn’t that great, anyway.

We… kind of ordered a lot. Everything was just so reasonable, and looked so good! We spent a little over two hours snacking and sipping and chatting and watching cherry blossoms float past the windows on the breeze. I’m not even very fond of tea, but I love those kinds of teatime experiences.

Fresh profiteroles- espresso, matcha, and custard with peanuts. Beautiful! They all pair well with the Earl Grey Grand Classic.

But the standout for me were their fresh cream scones with honey. Such a simple, perfect combination- I’ve been craving them every day since. It’s enough to make me want to take up drinking tea!