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Sakura o mini ikimashita

or, in English, we went cherry blossom viewing.


This is the time of cherry blossoms in Japan or sakura. There are cherry trees everywhere here, after they were imported from the Himalayas. Here they symbolize rebirth; it's sort of like seeing the first robin or the first flower of spring back home, except on a nationwide scale. The cherry blossoms usually come out at the end of March or the beginning of April which is when the new school year starts and all the new recruits start at their company. It takes about a week for them to come into full bloom and then another week or so and they are all gone. And, because Japan covers quite a bit of distance from south to north, the trees blossom in a wave going north, and some people will take time off to "ride the cherry blossom wave".

During this time everybody does hanami which means cherry blossom viewing party. This means that everyone goes out and sits under the cherry blossom trees and eats and drinks. I don't there is much cherry blossom viewing going on, I think it is an excuse to go eat and drink outside which I think is great (side note: it is legal to drink in public here). One of my students was telling me that he is going to bring a generator to his party so he can set up some lights.

Some areas are very very famous for their cherry blossoms and are extremely popular. We live near one of these places, so about two or three days ago we noticed there were a lot of blue tarps on the ground near the river. People spread their tarps out days in advance to reserve their party spot. The great thing is that the tarps are still there when they come back; no one steals them or rips them.

And last week Courtney started to notice that all these tents were being set up along the river. They are all sorts of different food stands and carnival games and vendors. One of the biggest parts of Japanese culture is food. For every festival there is special food, every town has a special dish and if you tell someone you went somewhere their first or second question is always, "How was the food?". Courtney also noticed next to the little park on our way to the grocery store someone set up a takoyaki (octopus balls) stand. It is a quite a little industry here.

Yesterday we decided that we would go look at the cherry blossoms. We left in the afternoon went into Osaka and took the train to Sakuranomiya (Sakura = cherry blossoms). We figured if they name of the place had cherry blossom in it, it would be nice. It is a large river that had cherry blossom trees along each bank. We wandered down one side and back up the other. After all that rambling here are some pictures.

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On our way back we met another couple we taught web with last year. While we were standing there talking a Japanese kid was biking by and stopped and said, "Excuse me" then he started to think of his next question, but he froze. He couldn't get it out. He eventually said something in Japanese which we recognized as the time. One of the other guys showed him his watch and off he went. Even though he choked we were very impressed that he stopped and tried to ask us what time it was.

After this we caught the train to go do some shopping and eat some crepes. Which were delicious as always.

After the shopping and crepes we made our way back to the river near our apartment to look at some more cherry blossoms. We actually preferred this river to the bigger one because it was a little smaller, less noisy, fewer homeless people and not as much garbage.

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We walked along the river and then went up to the tents to check them out some more. There were all the food stalls, but also people selling toys and a goldfish scooping trough. We watched a little girl start to try, but then something happened and she started to cry.


By this time we were near the end of the river so we just walked home to make supper. In Japan it is quite popular for little kids (I think mostly girls) to unicycle. This is our neighbour's unicycle with kick stand waiting to be ridden again. You can see behind the unicycle a couple of plastic totes, in which kids keep their pet beetles. Presumably this spring they'll get another beetle.


Posted by agc_cwm 20:00 Archived in Japan

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