I went walking in the neighborhood near my school after a jog on Saturday. The cherry blossoms were bursting in little pink and white explosions of subtle perfume near a creek where the cherry trees lined the banks. While I have always liked plum blossoms more than cherry blossoms, there was something extremely intimate about that moment, perhaps because the creek was without its customary bustle of tourists with their Nikon and Canon cameras (and accompanying 12″ lenses), or the raucous parties thrown in the blossoms’ honor at the beginning of spring.
These parties, known as hanami, or literally “flower viewing”, are customarily thrown in large parks, or along a river, with upwards of thirty of forty people camping out all day on blue picnic blankets with a ridiculous amount of finger foods and alcohol. This is also about the time that “spring fever” hits critical mass: rates of chikan, or transportation perverts, inebriation, and litter see huge increases. On the positive side, it really is quite like the stereotypes: romance is everywhere, people are dizzy with the happiness of warmth after a long winter, and everything about the air is sweet.
In any case, this little location has no space for blankets, and so tourists don’t much visit it (it’s also in a residential area), so it was just me, the blossoms, and my iPhone. I lament that I didn’t have my better camera, because there were some really pretty birds my phone just couldn’t pick up, but I think the iPhone did the blossoms justice at least. The photos are also shared from my Flickr account. And, because sometimes poetry seems to fit the cause, here’s a little haiku as well:
Pass under the bridge
Gay cherry blossoms of spring
Aroma of youth
The poem was inspired by my favorite part of the cherry blossom season, which is also considered the most melancholy: when they fall. Cherry blossoms live a startlingly short life, sometimes here and gone in the space of a week. They fall quickly, and literary and poetic history in Japan equates their life cycle as parallel to the beauty of life, and an individual’s soft wink into the timeline of the universe. Though most parties are arranged to be able to observe the dropping of the petals, N J and I like going to a small, hidden stairwell upriver around the second week of April, where we can watch the petals, by the hundreds, being washed down from the mountains of Kurama in the Kamo River. It’s really lovely.
Tomorrow, I am flying off to Seoul with N J for four days. I’m looking forward to it, even though it will mean missing the rest of the cherry blossom season (though I just discovered that Seoul will just be entering theirs when we go, so yay). I also set my OCD aside and did not do any sort of itinerary planning, which is very rare for me. However, adventure is always exciting, and I’m looking forward to an amazing trip. I have to take a little time every day to thank my boss, without whom this trip, and the trip to Taipei, would not have been possible. In addition to all of the amazing things he does daily for us, these international trips as yearly bonuses when we reach our student enrollment goals, are just amazing.
I just want to let the A-Z folks know that while I have posts scheduled and ready for the first three weeks, I won’t have a chance to go around and comment on blogs (probably) until we get back to Kyoto. Sorry!