We spotted this little group on Sunday morning bright and early. Clearly, they'd made their way to a farm just down the Tamagawa Jousui (Tama River Canal) that runs along north of where we live. It's a corridor of wilderness with a bike path on either side, and heaven knows if I was a kid I'd be roaming about there with my friends, too.
One farm along the way has not only a killer vegetable stall - stunning seasonal bouquets, tasty pickled vegetables as well as a nice selection of fruits and vegetables, too - but an absolutely magnificent bamboo forest. I've sat on the path next to it for a time just to hear the wind move the leaves and clunk the trunks together occasionally. It's a delight, and always makes me wonder how the loss of such green spaces (bamboo forests would have been de rigeur for a Japanese farm, much like the American woodlot) impacts the country today.
The shoots in early spring poke up out of the ground to have a look around them, and by this time of year they're nearly as tall as I am (about 5'10 inches) with no intention of slowing. The smaller, earlier versions can be harvested with a good deal of digging and served up in rice or as a quick pickle. Like strawberries or rhubarb or snow peas, bamboo shoots (takenoko) are a first taste of a new season. But for these whipper-snappers, I'd say it's a new toy!