herry Blossom Time (O Hanami)
March 27 - May 10, 2010
Everyone in the whole world must have heard of the Japanese cherry blossom season. We are sure that lots of people visit Japan in early spring just to be there for the blooming of the thousands of cherry trees in Japan. We had 'viewed' the cherry blossoms before, but in Washington DC rather than in Japan. As a result we were rather pleased to find that we were in Tokyo at peak blossom-viewing time.
We made several outings to admire the delicate blooms on the small compact cherry trees around town, but also and maybe mostly to watch the other people as they celebrated this rebirth of life. Our first big such outing was to Ueno Park, the biggest park in the city and a magnet for tokyo dwellers at this time of the year. We don't fully understand how things are done, but when we arrived in the late afternoon of an early April day, the broad avenues of the park that were lined with cherry trees, were already visibly ready for a great crowd of people to come. The visible preparations consisted of areas of ground beneath the trees that were either side of the pathways marked off and clearly reserved for large groups. We assumed that they were mostly corporate groups. Each area had a tarpaulin of sorts covering the grass or bare ground and some had low tables set up, with supplies of soft drinks and snacks nearby ready to be distributed when the workers arrived. For some reason people like to admire the cherry blossoms from beneath, hence the reservation of space under the trees, and the best time is felt to be after dark, so an after-hours event works just fine.
We stayed around in the park until it got dark and lanterns that were strung from tree to tree were lit and the whole place became a kind of fairyland. It was interesting to be a part of this great mass of people making merry in the chilly evening hours and the atmosphere and people's mood was certainly very lively and happy. But for us, the daytime is the best time to view the blossoms and the best view we had of them is pictured at the top of this page, i.e. along the river. We spent a whole afternoon walking the two miles or so that cherry trees line the banks of the river and found it just stupendously beautiful. It really does make you glad to be alive. Warm spring weather added to that mood of course. We were happy to see the mercury rising once again.