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Impatient to see the first sakura of the season, we followed the crowds into Ueno Park. It’s been a good while since we last joined in the revelry at Tokyo’s largest, most boisterous cherry blossom-viewing party — and never before have we done it in such gourmet style.

Nothing wrong whatsoever with huddling with the happy masses, quaffing barely cold beer and washing down soggy kara-age deep-fried chicken with cheap shochu while warbling into a portable karaoke mic. Been there, done that — and had the hangover. This year, however, we swapped the pleasures of the blue tarp for the rather more genteel setting of Innsyoutei.

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