April 11th, 2011

Yesterday, Sachi and I did a little hanami (cherry-blossom viewing, usually while drinking beer and eating snacks) at a local park. It was OK, but the trees at the park, while nice, were no big deal. So today, we decided to do a proper viewing picnic, going to a larger park (Koganei Park this time), with better food this time (chilled beer, warm yakisoba, full compliment of snacks).

We couldn’t go when we wanted to though–we had to wait on a takkyubin delivery (new curtain rails) at the new house, one of those “be at home between 9 am and noon” deals–but it had to be at the new house, which is still bare. Fortunately, I had the sense to call the delivery company the night before and made sure they would call us 15 minutes in advance, so we could stay at our comfortable apartment and run over to receive the delivery when they called. Good thing, too–the delivery didn’t come until half past twelve, so we saved ourselves three and a half hours of waiting on cold floors. And the delivery guy called with only 5 minute’s warning, on the wrong phone. Fortunately, I had decided to go over at that time anyway, and so was waiting when they came. Good timing.

However, this all delayed our departure until about one o’clock. While I was taking the delivery, Sachi was cooking the yakisoba and packing everything in a thermal bag. We hopped on our bicycles and rode the 5 km (3 miles) to the park. Thank god for GPS and the Maps app on the iPhone, it kept us from getting lost in the labyrinth of small streets along the way.

When we got to the park, we headed over to the “Cherry Blossom Garden” where all the action was. This year, the blossoms came late and are leaving early. It seems our timing was perfect–the trees were still full of blossoms (Sachi calls the “popcorn trees”), but the blossoms had just started to fall–and did they fall. It was the time where a good wind made the blossoms fall like heavy snow, the ground a carpet of petals. Just beautiful.

Our timing was good in another respect: this is Monday, and so while there were many people, it was not very crowded. We were able to find a nice spot with ease.

So we sat, drank, snacked, and enjoyed ourselves for an hour or two, and generally got covered in flower petals. It was a little cool at times, but mostly warm enough. Everyone was having a good time. A couple of Peruvian flute bands provided a nice background music.

As usual, click on the images to see larger versions.

Note tha carpet of petals; they were everywhere

The camera did not do the “petal-fall” justice…

A crop of the last photo, you can see the petals better


After we had relaxed for a while, we decided to walk around, and then rode our bikes around the park a bit.

Just then, at about three o’clock, we decided to go home a few minutes early–despite the forecast of rain by 6 pm, the clouds to the north seemed a little dark, and we thought we heard thunder. So we headed back. Again, the Maps app saved us–even with it, we almost headed east instead of north. Still, the 5 km ride was longer than we would have liked, with the weather threatening like that. As we arrived home, heavy thunder and lightning were already all around us, though we walked in the door completely dry. Literally seconds after we walked in the door, heavy rain began to fall. Our timing could not have been more perfect, especially in that we had no rain gear.

So, good timing for pretty much everything. And a fun, relaxing day.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2011 Tags: by
  1. Troy
    April 12th, 2011 at 12:04 | #1

    Thank god for GPS and the Maps app on the iPhone, it kept us from getting lost in the labyrinth of small streets along the way.

    that’s kinda odd — I rode my bike over 60% of the 23区 and never got lost. . . I used to love just setting out with a destination and getting there — the major cross-streets provide “barriers” to prevent getting too far away from the goal.

    I’d do things like take off from Takandanobaba and walk to Akihabara, or bike from Ikebukuro to Shakujii . . .

    all the small streets makes it harder to get lost since they give you more options as long as you can keep a heading.

    You don’t need GPS — you need a compass!

    (I have really really good direction sense, at least in urban environments — the key thing is to know how to read which way is east/south/west from where the Sun is. . .

  2. Roger
    April 13th, 2011 at 10:55 | #2

    I just recently learned of hanami… and now I have some wonderful visuals to go with the idea. Sounds like a really charming tradition and a fun time. Cheers indeed.

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