Friday, 12 April 2013

Hanami ~ Cherry Blossom Season

From the beginning of March to the beginning of April the sakura went from tiny pink buds bursting into white flowers before turning pink and dropping off the trees. It was officially spring in Japan, the time when the last year ends. This is the time when school kids have spring break before they start school again in April, as well as the time new employees start their new jobs and people move house. It's a busy time in Japan. But  typical Japan it's also a good excuse to go out, enjoy the nice weather and celebrate with friends and family with picnics and alcohol under the sakura. In other words, Hanami (flower viewing).

Our first hanami was with the school the week before the hanami season officially started.

Outside our apartment there's a long park running down the middle of the road. This part is full of sakura trees and so we decided to take a stroll down it in the evening when we got back from class.

A few days later we went strolling through the park again, only this time it was raining. But the great thing about it was the fact that there weren't any people at all in the park! Although it may have also had something to do with the fact that sakura season hadn't 'officially' started. It's official start was on the weekend (March 23rd) and because of that people in the park were setting up stands to sell things like taiyaki and takoyaki and okonomiyaki (omnomnomnom).

(Our apartment behind a sakura tree)

(Old men setting up lanterns along the park ready for the flower viewing)

Once the stands had been set up we visited the park a lot so Wes could take photos and just to take in the atmosphere. We had okonomiyaki for lunch one time and Wes discovered green tea custard taiyaki so got those for about 5 days in a row! (The stands and people going to the park to picnic went on for over 3 weeks)
While wondering through the park one time there was a group of old drunk guys who spotted us and asked us to sit down with them. Wes said yes and they gave us whisky and was really weird...really weird. They really liked Wes though, although couldn't remember his name so called him 'Mike'. 

We were also invited out to do hanami with Mami and her friends on the 31st. There was a huge group of people there as it was mostly people who attending an English Speaking cafe, so also a number of foreigners.   At this point the sakura had been blooming for about 3 weeks and was starting to fall. We had a lot of food! The people running the event were nice enough to provide food for 1000yen entry, and most people took along their own alcohol although juice and tea was also provided. The people there were all really nice and there was an interesting mix of people learning English or wanting to learn English, each for their own reasons and at differing levels. The foreigners who were there was also a mix from JET teachers to people actually working in Japan and a few students.

(A group of kids next to us who seemed to have come with their traditional Japanese instruments band.)

(The park was crowded)

The blossoms continued into the beginning of April and people were still picnicking all the way up to the 7th but they had mostly fallen by then and by the time we got back from Korea had completely vanished to be replaced by bright green leaves.

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