Spring in Japan is a wonderful time. It’s not cold anymore and the humidity hasn’t hit yet. It’s often T-shirt weather on my days off and the Spring seasonal food and drink starts showing up. It’s also the time of year the cherry blossoms make their appearance, everyone goes to the park to hang out and even the dourest salaryman wears a grin for the flowers. It’s fantastic.
Unfortunately, this year the weather kind of sucked on Sundays – the one day everyone I know is off / the day Yuka and I have a guaranteed day for adventures. I think there’s something quite beautiful about that though. Everyone waits 50 weeks for nature to do its thing and show us some beautiful flowers. Nature doesn’t give a shit and rains anyway. As a result of the rain my cherry blossom viewing has mostly been restricted to the view from the train of big trees jutting above the sprawl. Perfectly beautiful in its own dichotomous way, but not quite as satisfying as buying a load of beer in the Harajuku Family Mart and hanging out in the park three weekends in a row with thousands of other people. We did manage one good afternoon with our friends in Yoyogi Park* though, and I managed to find some chill time in Shinjuku after getting my watch fixed this week. So not entirely a bust on the flower front.
*Yoyogi Park has multiple advantages for Hanami: 1) It’s huge, so there’s always some space (not necessarily perfect, under the nicest tree space, but space); 2) It’s free; 3) It’s near not one but two excellent burrito shops (obviously not a traditional cherry blossom food, but one of my great loves); 5) There’s a woman who walks her pet prairie dog there. Like most parks this time of year it fills with happy people celebrating beauty and the coming of warmer weather. Kids play, adults play, everyone naps and talks and drinks. People buy pizza and sell it at fantastic markups to people too relaxed to consider walking to a pizza shop themselves.
Our day in Yoyogi was standard in the lovely way a standard day of hanging out with flowers in a giant nationwide celebration tends to be. We grabbed burritos, joined the vast crowd heading through the main gate and then hung out on the tarp Shane had responsibly remembered to bring for a few hours; eating, drinking, eating some more, drinking some more, eventually meeting up with John and Azusa, eating and drinking a little more, playing J-GO (an Uno clone with Japanese questions, the same as AGO, the English version I play loads at work), going to karaoke and singing half the songs from Moana (so good), before going home to somehow eat a little more due to the tiredness that comes with eating so much in the sun. If you’re only getting one full day of Hanami in a year, it’s nice when it’s a good one.
As well as the annual group outing I did manage to get another hour or so of cherry blossom enjoyment / photography in for myself last week when I went to get my watch battery replaced in Shinjuku . The weather was gorgeous and I had a little free time before I needed to be getting home. I bought lunch in 7/11 and sat under the cherry blossoms next to a few other people clearly just enjoying the scenery – a guy working away on his laptop, several people on their lunch break. After that I went for a walk, took some photos and soaked in the untouchable atmosphere that is a Japanese park in springtime.
The trees outside the apartment are done just a week after I sent my mum a picture of them in full bloom. It’s fleeting, but I love it.