Magical Panda Cake
essay, Mar. 2019
Once my older sister entered a junior high school, she didn’t come to our cherry-blossom viewing parties (1). She was busy with her club activities and going out with her friends.
While missing her, I went to a “Sakura Festival” in my neighborhood with my younger sister, parents, and their colleague who worked for my parents’ design office.
Since I was little, I always followed after my older sister. She always helped me when I had any trouble, and also taught me some new interesting games. However, I was not very close with my younger sister. She always cried and was selfish, so I got tired of looking after her.
At “Sakura Festival”, we ate a barbecue every year. Since we lived in Hokuriku, the north side of Japan, it was still cold even after cherry blossom trees bloomed. The wind was still cold and it was somewhat rainy still, so there were not many people besides us. In such coldness and without my older sister, I didn’t enjoy Sakura Festival as much as my parents and their colleague.
So, after eating meat and fried noodles, I was thinking of taking a short walk. I wanted to walk alone, but I felt somewhat guilty to leave my younger sister all alone among the adults drinking alcohol.
Shortly after walking along the cherry blossom trees, we found only one street vendor (2). The vendor’s sign said: “Panda Cake”. We only had a little money, so I could only buy one bag. A panda cake was a thin, flat, cake shaped in a funny panda face and body.
Past the street stall, a vast plain field filled my eyes. It would be used for a big event, but at that time there was no such event. We had run out of street, and so the only way to keep strolling was to walk though the vast field. So, I took my younger sister’s hand, and we began a trek through the field.
Me and my sister didn’t talk much while walking. I just took a bite of the panda cake and gave it to her. She also took one bite, and returned it to me again. It wasn’t awesome, but not terrible either. We said nothing. We each took turns breaking off pieces of the panda cake and eating them.
After eating several more pieces, I gradually felt like this panda cake was not so bad. I told my sister, and she only said “Yup”.
By the time we finally arrived at the other side of the field, we thought the panda cake was delicious. We ate the last several pieces, and even shared the last one together. We wished there was more.
Walking back to our parents, I told my sister “The panda cakes gradually became tasty. It’s like a magic, isn’t it?” She only said “Yup” this time too, but she smiled at me.
Yes, it is true that I didn’t enjoy cherry blossom trees as much as my parents and other adults, but these panda cakes surely made that cold day warm. It also helped me grow up a little bit and take care of my younger sister. It helped me to get closer to her. So, even now, I still call these cakes “the magical panda cake”.
Find panda cakes!
From Ueno Station (Tokyo):
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1. In Japanese culture, people have cherry-blossom viewing parties in spring, with eating and drinking under the trees. Try it and enjoy sakura like locals!
2. At festivals–such as cherry blossom festivals, summer festivals and new year’s festivals—there are many street vendors where you can enjoy food and play games.
Mom of three kids and writer. Writes essays in the midnight dressingroom.