Apparently this is year is the 400th anniversary of trade relations between Japan and the Netherlands, and the Japanese are celebrating that with several events all over Japan. In Osaka they’ve organized a tulip-festival in Bampaku park, which we went to check out today. Japan is famous for its cartoons, but the Netherlands is also represented by a famous animation: Nijntje created by Dick Bruna. Apparently, this popular rabbit is known as Miffy outside of her own country, which I discovered in Japan where she seems even more popular than at home. I’ve seen a lot of Dick Bruna’s creations in Japan already, and it seems he’s created a cute drawing for this festival too: a little person holding a Japanese and a Dutch flag. As a Dutchie in Japan I absolutely loved it and was happy to see it displayed on hundreds of flags, flyers and posters. The best thing was the pin of the Bruna logo that they handed out for free!
We started with a special Dutch lunch in Hotel Hankyu Expo Park, which wasn’t cheap but which we had to have, of course. The cooks really tried their best to make the lunch as Dutch as they could but the food definitely had a Japanese twist to it. But it was still great and Yasu kept remarking how happy I looked. The first course was green pea soup, a popular winter dish in the Netherlands, not one of my favorites, but it tasted wonderfully Dutch, the only thing missing was a piece of bread on the side. The bread came one course later with the pasta, which seemed odd because we never eat bread with pasta, and pasta in itself was odd too because we’d consider that Italian, not Dutch, food. Still, we do eat a lot of pasta in the Netherlands so maybe we could consider it Dutch in that way. The piece of fish (the Japanese twist) was really delicious, by the way.
After receiving some of those awesome Dick Bruna pins at lunch, we thought it would be really cool to get some more pins for our future kids, who’ll be half Dutch and half Japanese, after all. But we didn’t want to seem greedy and decided to go ask for some more at another hand-out spot, besides the rule-book probably says one pin per visitor only and we all know the Japanese love their rule-books and never exercise flexibilty. So we went to the Osaka Gas company next door to ask for some more, but they didn’t just give the pins away, we had to work for them, or at least Yasu had to. They made him bake (supposedly Dutch, but actually American) pancakes and listen to a sales pitch about the cooker used, still he enjoyed his first baking experience ever. And we ended up with two rather delicious banana pancakes (but we were too full from lunch to really enjoy it) and two extra Dick Bruna pins, yay!
In the actual park we ran out around for a bit to find 5 rather easy quiz questions about the Netherlands (even if you're not Dutch), since they were displayed in several different buildings all pretty far away from each other. It was a bit bothersome and it took us a while but we could win a trip to the Netherlands with KLM and it never hurts to try especially since I can’t afford another trip home. In between answering question we enjoyed some frisbee action, a new hobby we picked up during hanami at the same park two weeks ago, and when we finally arrived at the tulip field, all the little stalls selling Dutch souvenirs were already closed and so was the Park Cafe that was selling Dutch fries and pancakes. But we were still pretty stuffed from lunch and the banana pancakes, so I’m not sure we could have enjoyed the Dutch snacks anyway, but I wish I’d seen the Dutch goodies on display, there might have been something good on sale, like Dutch licorice or cheese. We had stuff would closed so early because during hanami everything had been open until well after dark, but today it closed at 5PM.
But the tulips were still there and the park itself was still open for another 30 minutes. Besides if you say you’ve been to a tulip festival, that usually means you’ve spent a considerable amount of time admiring and photographing the tulips, so that’s what we did. I’d already seen the tulips last time, which was before the actual festival started and the tulips had just started to bloom but today many of them were already dying or dead after two weeks of summer heat in this so-called spring. But we found some spots with still decent-looking tulips for our pictures.
Wish we’d gotten up earlier so that we could have enjoyed the festival longer. Actually it didn’t feel like a festival at all because there were hardly any people there, since it is Monday and most people work today. Which is why we decided to come today because we just didn’t want to be bothered by those huge crowds and endless lines for a change. And today the park was really peaceful. I really enjoyed all the Japanese efforts to try to create something Dutch, and we ended up going home with 8 Dick Bruna pins (not sure if we’re going to have 6 children though).