森林園でお花見 – Cherry Blossom Viewing

This last weekend, I was able to join a friend and one of his teachers for trip to Kinbuchi Park to look at cherry blossoms.  While this might not sound that exciting, you must understand the high place that these flowers, known in Japanese as Sakura, hold in their hearts.  Its not like only a few people are really excited –  all of Japan love these flowers.  In this season, its the go-to conversation starter, even eclipsing their rampant desire to comment on the weather.  These trees, which are worthless as anything but trees for 50 weeks of the year, are absolutely everywhere.  I had no idea that there were so many cherry trees until I saw them all in bloom.  I would certainly say the majority of landscaped, deciduous tress are these Sakura.  The flowers themselves are as tightly packed as the leaves that will soon replace them, and are a light pink shade.  In addition to these trees though, there the flowering pinks and purples of the plum and peach trees.  Its just a very beautiful time for Japan.

close sakura

Simply talking about the trees wouldn’t nearly be enough for the Japanese, so they must supplement the season by setting out on a pilgrimage to any number of places chock full of these trees.  This is basically a picnic in the vicinity of the trees, where people just talk and drink, while the kids run around and play.  This may see like a great family activity, and it certainly is.  However the universal appeal of this is really quite amazing.  College students, families, ancients, men – everyone makes plans to go do this.  Here was our crew.

the crew

So I was there with couple of teacher families from my friends school, and they got there a while before me.  I had to park about a mile away from the entrance, due to the people flocking to the scene.  When I got there, I ate a quick lunch, as everyone had already eaten, and then it was time to play.  The venue for play was rather large expanse of a hill, with mostly dead grass and an excessive amount of small stones.  The park however was much larger than just this area, and was completely packed with people.

I spent the next two hours playing with kids of the teachers, and just messing around with Ryan and his brother, fresh from England.  The weather was also the nicest we had seen yet, and I was able to bust out shorts, bare feet, and a short sleeve shirt.  The Englishmen even managed to crisp themselves in the sun.  We played tag, and kicked a ball, and ran around, and jumped rope with these kids.  I also played a little frisbee with one of them…

Finally it was time to head home, but I didn’t leave without snapping a couple pictures.  Being such an integral aspect of Japanese culture, I was very excited about this season.   Every singer that has ever come out of Japan has sung about Sakura, and cherry blossoms appear in all mediums.  In my previous two trips to Japan, I didn’t have a chance to see them since they were out of season.  This was certainly a big one the check off my list.

This was the park’s main thruway, which was well shaded by the beautiful blooms.

tunnel sakura

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