I just finished my third viewing of this series, and each time I watch it I like it better. The final episode, which takes place during the Bonbori festival (more about Bonbori at the bottom of this post) actually brought me to tears a few times.
The main character, Ohana Matsumae, has a long and interesting character arc, which is nicely complimented by the evolution of the many supporting characters. There are many funny moments and the work ethic of the staff of the Inn is a refreshing change from the unreal la-la-land existence of many anime features depicting the lives of young Japanese girls.
Coming-of-age stories have a fascination for me at present, and this one gave me a lot to think about. Predictably, the series has many cheesecake-y moments, and many more sexual references than would be found in an American animated series. But work and friendship are the constant issues before the viewer, and O-hana’s impulsive, and somewhat noisy behavior is tempered by basic honesty and good sense.
The characters and backgrounds are well-drawn, with plenty of transitional “pillow-shots” for artistic flavor. The pacing is good, the story engaging and the dialog believable. Five out of five stars for me!
Hanasaku Iroha centers around Ohana Matsumae, a 16-year-old living in Tokyo, who is left in the care of her estranged grandmother, following her mother's elopement with her boyfriend. Ohana arrives at her grandmother's country estate to realize she is the owner of a Taishō period hot spring inn called Kissuisō. She begins working at Kissuisō, at her grandmother's request, but finds herself at odds with many employees and customers at the inn. Initially feeling discouraged, she decides to use her circumstances as an opportunity to change herself for the better and to make amends with her deteriorating relationship with the Kissuisō's staff for a more prominent future.
Voiced by: Kanae Itō
Ohana is an energetic and optimistic 16-year-old girl and the protagonist of Hanasaku Iroha. She is sent to live at her estranged grandmother's hot spring inn, Kissuisō, after her mother elopes with her boyfriend to evade his debt. Her best friend, Kōichi Tanemura, confessed his feelings to her before her departure, which was left unanswered until later in the series. At her grandmother's demand, she works at the inn as compensation for staying there. After parting with Koichi, she realized that she has feelings for him, though she still hasn't admitted it yet. But she is always dependent on him. She is a strong willed girl who is stubborn and is realistic for her age. She likes to drink a mix of cola and black tea.
Voiced by: Chiaki Omigawa
Minko is a 16-year-old apprentice chef and resident at Kissuisō. She is a tsundere. Her beautiful looks hide a very cold demeanor. She dislikes Ohana from their first meeting, nicknaming her balut (she pronounces it hobiron ("hột vịt lộn" in Vietnamese for balut), but has slowly accepted her as a friend. Against her parents' wishes, her dream is to become a professional chef, resulting in her search for training opportunities. Her search led her to Kissuisō, where Tōru Miyagishi accepted her as an apprentice chef. Since then, she has strong feelings for him and becomes jealous when he talks about other girls.
Voiced by: Aki Toyosaki
Nako is a shy and timid 16-year-old cleaning part-time maid and waitress at Kissuisō. She has three younger siblings whom she assists her parents in raising. She becomes close friends with Ohana and teaches her how to perform her duties. Nako is very good at swimming, by which she gains since childhood the nickname "Kappapa", after an aquatic mythic creature kappa.
Yuina Wakura (和倉 結名 Wakura Yuina)
Voiced by: Haruka Tomatsu
Yuina is the 16-year-old daughter and heiress to the Fukuya Inn, the rival inn of Kissuisō. She is in the same high school as Ohana, Minko, and Nako, and is seen hanging out with them on several occasions. She is divided on the choice of whether to go on with her family's inn-running business, or to find herself a different form of career fulfillment.
Kōichi Tanemura (種村 孝一 Tanemura Kōichi)
Voiced by: Yūki Kaji
Kōichi is a 16-year-old teenager who is Ohana's best friend. Kōichi confessed his feelings to Ohana before her departure, but was too afraid to hear her answer and ran away. He often offers Ohana support when she feels down. As the story progress, he feels abandoned by Ohana as she adjusts to her new lifestyle.
Voiced by: Tamie Kubota, Takako Honda (young)
Ohana's 68-year-old grandmother and owner of Kissuisō. Behind her fierce and strict composure towards her employees (to the point of physically reprimand them), Sui eventually reveals herself as comprehensive and caring toward them when most needed thus earning not only obedience from them, but also respect and devotion.
Tomoe Wajima (輪島 巴 Wajima Tomoe)
Voiced by: Mamiko Noto
Tomoe is the 28-year-old head waitress working at Kissuisō. She enjoys hearing gossip about other employees and customers lodging at the inn. As a single woman near her thirties, Tomoe is usually reminded by her mother that she should start looking for a husband and start a family.
Voiced by: Kenji Hamada
Ohana's 32-year-old uncle. He was bullied by Satsuki during their childhood. He often calls upon Takako and considers her his partner. The two marry late in the series. After Kissuisō's closure, Enishi plans to improve his management skills in order to succeed his mother.
Tōru Miyagishi (宮岸 徹 Miyagishi Tōru)
Voiced by: Junji Majima
A 23-year-old junior chef working at Kissuisō. He is very outspoken and easily frustrated. He strictly mentors and supervises Minko's training, often going too far with verbal abuse. Ohana was initially intimidated by him, but has since developed a dislike to Tōru. However, Tōru appears to develop feelings toward Ohana as he feels that she is the only one who is willing to say she needs him. Afterwards, he is often seen looking out for Ohana, much to Minko's jealousy.
Voiced by: Taro Yamaguchi
A 42-year-old cook working at Kissuisō. Renji is Tōru's mentor and the head chef of the Kissuisō kitchen. He has a very gruff appearance, evidenced by a small facial scar, but has been shown to have a light-hearted side on occasion. He gets nervous very easily when under pressure, but is usually well-focused on his job.
Voiced by: Ayumi Tsunematsu
A 30-year-old business consultant adviser for Kissuisō. She attended the same university as Enishi. She often has erratic plans to improve the inn and tends to spout out random English sayings. She eventually marries Enishi late in the series. Her new name is Takako Shijima.
Tarō Jirōmaru (次郎丸 太朗 Jirōmaru Tarō)
Voiced by: Junichi Suwabe
A 31-year-old novelist who frequently lodges at Kissuisō. He writes erotic novels using the Kissuisō's staff as character references. He eventually starts working at the inn after it is discovered that he can't pay the bill. Ironically, his past works include a cooking manga that inspired both Minko and Tōru to become cooks themselves.
Denroku Sukegawa (助川 電六 Sukegawa Denroku)
Voiced by: Chō
A 73-year-old janitor working at Kissuisō. He has been working at Kissuisō since its establishment. The staff calls him "Beanman".
Ohana's 38-year-old mother. She is a journalist who elopes with her boyfriend to evade his debt. She leaves Ohana to the care of her mother, who claims to have disowned her daughter. She neglected Ohana as a child and raised her with the mentality of relying on oneself. She works as a hotel and inn critic, often asked to write scathing reviews by her higher ups.
Voiced by: Ryota Takeuchi
He was Ohana's father, who died when Ohana was a baby. He was a photographer and inspired Satsuki to be an editor.
Lighting candles for the Kamakura bonbori festival. Above photo montage by Gerry Harcourt (longtime resident of Kita-Kamakura)
from: aminoapps вonвorι мaтѕυrι - paper lanтern ғeѕтιval
Bonbori is a Japanese paper lantern. From autumn's Eve to 9th August each year, Bonbori lanterns are lit and lined up beautifully along the pathway of the shrine. There are about 400 Bonbori set up in the precinct during the festival. The festival happens in Kamakura City.
The first Bonbori festival was held in 1938 with the help from various artists and celebrities that live around and in Kamakura city. Today they are using bulb to light up the lantern but in old times they were using oil and candles.
Interesting fact about Bonbori Festival is that the lantern shades are hand-made drawings by various artists. So it comes in different, various drawings.