Saturday, May 17, 2008

And Here's Something Unusual: a Dixieland Hanami, April 2008!

In March or April, the cherry trees blossom, cover parts of Japan like white smoke and petals fall like snow on the sidewalks. And whether the weather is nice or not, people like to get together with their friends and family and sit under the cherry blossoms and get drunk as lords!

Lanterns are strung in the trees so as night falls, you can still see the blossoms in the mellow light. In the old days they used some sort of oil lamps, but today they use electricity. It's still lovely at twilight.

Happy groups of people arrive early to lay claim to the prime real estate all across the grassy lawns, then spread out blue plastic tarps- used by the homeless around the bridges in Shinagawa and Kawasaki for housing- and then tuck into more food than any small group can safely eat. Sushi rolls, bread, sandwich meat, yakitori, potato chips, potato salad, pizza, onigiri, mixed nuts, sliced or baby carrots... and in our case, french fries from McDonald's for some reason. Big cans of Asahi Super Dry and Kirin and Sapporo Draft One, lemony chuhai, sake, perhaps even wines of various types, green tea, bottled water, sodas.

Eat, drink, walk around the castle gardens, play some soccer or a little pepper. And one group in particular began to jump and wail:

Some people like to nap in the sun, like this stunned young dude:

You might think this is a tuba:

But actually, it's a sousaphone.

This tenor sax-blowin' cat was my favorite:

People continued eating and drinking, but all around us they were listening to the band, applauding after every number. A musical bonus on a fun day for all. Except for that guy whose nap was interrupted.

Yes, there are vending machines practically everywhere you go in Japan:

It looks like a big mess, but everyone pitched in to clean up afterwards:

There. Now you've vicariously enjoyed a hanami..

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