Not Quite Hanami

The last week has been prime cherry blossom season in this part of Japan, but we were working so couldn’t take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and pretty trees until this past weekend. The tradition is have a hanami, which is basically a picnic under the trees with various amounts of booze involved. It really is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening.

People in Japan have been ruminating on the beauty and symbolism of cherry trees forever, and the longer I’m here the more I look forward to their blossoming each year. But my appreciation is based by no means philosophical — for me, cherry trees mean spring is here and is picking up steam.

In town, most of the trees were in full bloom towards the end of the week and over the weekend, but we went to a park near our house that is a little more elevated and cooler, so the blossoms weren’t even close to full bloom. But it was a stunning day and the park was full of families and kids going berserk. It was a nice atmosphere, but we only stayed for an hour or so. (This is the same park I posted about back in the fall — the one with all the bears!!!)

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Ray really enjoyed being outside in such a vast expanse, and more than once invaded other people’s picnic spreads in an attempt to grab whatever cool toy they had.

He surveyed the land.

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Contemplated.

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And eventually declared sovereignty over all he could see.

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Until we packed him back into the car and took off to look at some cherry blossoms that were hopefully a little more blossomy. I have posted about this endless stretch of cherry trees before — it’s my go-to place around here for cherry blossom pictures, but really I prefer to take in this stretch on a bicycle because it’s so long.

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Walking was nice, but it wasn’t long before Ray was zonked out and Chieko had to pee, so back we went to the car, and that was the end of our cherry blossom for the day and mostly likely the year. We’re hoping to get back to the park later this week, but the torrential rain we are getting right now doesn’t bode well for perky petals. We shall see.

In the evening we finally got around to hanging the koi that Chieko’s parents bought for Ray last month. In May is boys’ day, and families with boys hang koi-looking wind socks outside the home to celebrate. Some of them are huge, 10 foot long affairs, but the largest one Ray has is 1.5 meters (about 4 feet). I followed the instructions to leave about a foot of space between each fish, but they are too close for my tastes. I will space them out a bit more next weekend.

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The koi are close to the ground so Ray can play with them in this picture, but usually we hoist them up towards the top of the house so they can blow around in the wind. I’ll take some more koi pictures at some point to show you what they look like flapping around in the wind.

So that was Sunday. Saturday was a washout weather wise and nothing much of interest happened.

In other realms of life, we’re both settling into a groove at work after a hectic first two weeks. It’s really nice to have students that give shit again. We have this week and four days next week before a week off for Golden Week (a succession of holidays, on of which is boys’ day).

During Golden Week I’m looking forward to getting the garden up and running. Since I have been lent the patch of land across the street, I decided that I will only plant a few things in the yard and the rest will be transformed into a badass BBQ zone. Stay tuned to see how I realize my vision. But right now I’m going to realize my bed, where I will read until I go cross-eyed. Good night.

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