Thursday, March 13, 2014

Here come the cherry blossoms: Cherry blossom forecast announced

Cherry blossom forecast announced

Looks like late March for cherry blossom season around our area.  This means two weekends of fully-packed parks.  Lots of blue plastic tarps spread out, drunk people rubbing their heads on trees, worn-out office workers using the relative inactivity of a picnic to take a nap (you would be surprised to hear how many people claim "sleeping" as their hobby in Japan, which must be one of the most chronically sleep-deprived nations in the world) and general fun times.  If we have sun to go with the sakura.

Sometimes the weekends are sunny but a little too windy and cold for me, but I still like to visit the castle park here and get a buzz from all the good feelings.  I find cherry blossom season a fine time to pick up on positive vibes and do what the hippies used to call "groove."  Or something like that.  Who the hell knows what hippies really called anything all these years later?  The point is, as Japan's winter turns into spring (and spring is especially nice here), I shed a lot of seasonal drabness and feel recharged and refreshed.  Getting a chance to see so many people having fun for a change really help intensify those feelings.

Of course, because it's Japan, there has to be a schedule for it and when the proper time comes around, just about everybody will do the same thing at that moment.  Changing leaves are beautiful to see, but people read about the peak times in the newspaper then all hit the road to go to the most famous viewing spots which leads to traffic jams all up and down the highways.  "What did you do last weekend?" you might ask a friend.

"Went to see the fall leaves."

"How was it?"

"Too much traffic.  We stayed in our car for three hours."

"One way, or there and back?"

"One way."

This is why when the cherry blossoms peak, it's best to travel to a local park on foot or by bicycle rather than planning a shinkansen trip to some traditional location.  If you're really adventuresome and don't mind a lot of travel hassles, there are famous spots in Kyoto and Tokyo that will be thronged on the best days.  The picnics themselves can possibly make up for any trouble you meet getting to them.  As for me, I prefer spending my sakura season locally and just watching the news for a glimpse of the more legendary locales.  Maybe one day we'll risk it.

Hmm.  I wonder what our hanami fare will be?  McDonald's?  Mos Burger?  Hotto Motto?  I've been to hanami with homemade treats and they were spectacular, but I'm not much of a cook with the equipment we have handy at home and I don't want my wife to have to knock herself out.  I want her to feel as relaxed and at peace as I do under the cherry blossoms.  So it's easier to grab a bucket of KFC or fill a bag with convenience store food and pre-packaged treats.  We have our own blue plastic tarp and a couple of nearby parks we can reach on foot or by bus.

I'm very much looking forward to this.

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