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  • Writer's picturekwankew

Hanami



In March, I was in Japan doing a 13-day tour starting in Tokyo down to Matsuyama and back up to Tokyo passing Kyoto twice, Hanami was not on my radar until I realized the period I was there might coincide with the blooming of the Sakura. My heart opened up to the possibility of chasing the blossoming of Sakura from Tokyo down to Hiroshima and back again to Tokyo.

 

As it happened Sakura was about ten days late this year despite many discussions about how climate change might hasten its blooming. A cold spell this spring delayed the buds from bursting into flowers. I was lucky to see Mt. Fuji in full view with no cloud cover but no Sakura.





When I arrived in Tokyo in the fourth week of March, Sakura was starting to bud. I was in Taiwan the week before and saw some cherry blossoms there. As we headed to the warmer south of Japan, there were scattered trees here and there bravely put forth their blooming buds, but still not in full bloom. Since the trip headed south and then we traced back north, I hoped the tentative budding would be more or less in full bloom by the time we turned northward.

 

The iconic Himeji Castle with Sakura gracing its façade did not happen for me but it was equally beautiful.




In Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari with its thousands of bright red tori gates was an impressive sight. On my second visit, I climbed up to the top of the mountain through the tori gates in the drizzly evening.  By then Sakura was bursting in full bloom along the Philosopher’s Path.













Arashiyama Bamboo Forest did not disappoint, I just wished it was not so crowded.

After visiting Hiroshima, we sought peace in the sanctuary of Itsukushima, built partly over the sea. 


Matsumoto or “Crow’s Castle” did not bathe in the blooming of the Sakura.



I visited the Jigokudani Monkey Park where the monkeys enjoyed their hot spring. I too availed myself several times in the Onsen or hot baths, soothing and relaxing.


The night before leaving Japan, I


visited Ueno Park to see the illumination of Sakura. Many picnickers sat on blankets beneath the cherry trees enjoying the bloom, it was a Friday. Hanami did not disappoint on my last morning in Tokyo. I first took the metro to Meguro River and walked up and down the banks drinking in its beauty.




Then I swung to the Shinjuku Gyeon National Park where I met three young Asian women who invited me to celebrate Hanami with them. It was special for me.

 

I stopped at Ueno Park to view Sakura there during the daytime. It was very crowded but festive.




I’m back in Boston now, the cherry blossoms have just started with the graceful weeping willow Sakura displaying their deep pink blossom.




 

I am lucky to see Sakura in Taiwan, Japan, and now in Boston; the cherry blossoms, starting with the willow pink blossoms are just beginning to show.

 

Sakura symbolizes beauty and the fleetingness of life. Let’s enjoy every moment of it while it lasts.




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