Monday, April 24, 2006
From around April 1st through April 15th, the cherry blossoms were blooming throughout Japan. All of Japan is Sakura (cherry blossom) crazy. It's in the newspapers and on TV. Hanami (flower viewing) is a national pastime. People set up elaborate picnic areas under the cherry blossom trees, day and night, and have big plastic tarps with all kinds of food and crazy set-ups with generators, nabe pots, bento boxes and cases and cases of beer and sake. It's one big party to enjoy the beauty of nature.
We had been bike riding around Himeji a lot watching the trees gradually blossom. A few Fridays ago after work, during the peak of the blossoms, we met up with some of the teachers from our building in downtown to enjoy hanami. It was a gorgeous spring day! We bought lots of wine, beer, cheese, crackers, fruit, chips, etc, and some mats. We had a picnic in the park that's in front of the castle. All the spots around the edge of the park next to the sakura (cherry blossom) trees were taken, so we plopped down in the middle of the park, pretty much by ourselves, which was good because we became more rowdy as the day/night moved along.
Blue Tarps Everywhere
Jane, Mac and Amanda
John and Allison
We were there for at least four hours. The trees are beautiful at night as well. We befriended some people and met up with other friends who happen to be at the park. We were getting cold but wanted to continue the party, so we did an hour of karaoke. My new favorite karaoke song is Mysharona by The Knacks! Usually I'm pretty shy about singing, because I can't hold a tune, but after I had some wine it was no problem. I was able to ignore it for once.
Saturday we went to the Sakura Festival in front of the castle. We met up with Yoko and Hiromi. They brought a gorgeous picnic and we hung out for hours eating and watching/listening to the entertainment.
There was a ninja
There were 100 koto players
We also watched taiko drummers with an awesome little kid that was playing his heart out on a standard set of drums (usually seen in rock bands) along with the big Japanese drums. It was amazing. I was mesmerized.
Monday we went to Kyoto with our friend Sho. It was pouring rain all day, but we went to Philospher’s Path, a 2km path of cherry trees. We also visited the Silver Pavilion Temple.
We actually went to more hanami activities during the following week and into the following weekend. When the cherry blossom petals began falling, it reminded me of snow. It feels like you are in a nether world. It was beautiful!