桜: Cherry Blossoms

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.

sakura10_b

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!

What is your favorite flower? Do you grow it or buy it frequently?

26 thoughts on “桜: Cherry Blossoms

  1. Miranda Stone says:

    You’re such a talented photographer, Alex! I just love the pictures of the cherry blossoms. It’s indeed sad how fleeting their blooms are. I guess that makes us appreciate them all the more, though. I hope you have a fantastic trip!

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    • Alex Hurst says:

      Thanks Miranda, I was pretty surprised at the quality of the photos that iPhone was able to churn out. These were taken with a 4S even, so before all those nifty camera upgrades.

      And yes, their short life is one of their most endearing, like the mayfly, or fireflies.

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  2. peakperspective says:

    You have such a huge heart, Alex and an incredibly keen eye to match it. Of course the thing that ties it together is a luminous soul to express it all.

    I love the pictures, I adore the haiku, and I cannot wait to hear all about Seoul. I wish you a safe journey where you’ll come back brimming with stories to share.

    Lastly, it’s so lovely to find another person who sees the immense beauty of the things that are so fleeting in life. Like a quick, blazing comet, those moments are ones we try hard to hold onto, slippery and swift as they are. Maybe that’s why they are so precious. They are not everyday. 🙂

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    • Alex Hurst says:

      Oh wow, thanks so much Shelley. That’s so sweet of you! *blushing*

      I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures and the haiku. We just landed in Seoul (in our hotel getting situated…debating the night market or not) and plan to go hiking in the morning. There will be pictures! (I can’t help myself…)

      I’m also glad we can have something to bond over. Some of my favorite things are fleeting… blossoms, fireflies… ice cream. 😉 They do force us to live in the present, and recognize how swiftly it is gone. ^_^

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  3. Clare Davidson says:

    Gorgeous photos. I absolutely love cherry blossom, although we don’t get anywhere near as much over here in the UK. My favourite flowers are probably orchids. I tried to grow one once and failed dismally!

    Thank you for visiting my blog 🙂 Also, congratulations on 1000 followers.

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    • Alex Hurst says:

      Thank you for the comment Clare!

      I love orchids, too. I used to work at a florist, and my boss would let me take home an orchid every month or so if they didn’t sell. She apparently was able to keep 40 orchids alive at her house with no trouble. She told me drainage and indirect light were the most important factors to an orchids long life. 🙂

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  4. Andrew says:

    Transportation pervert? What does that mean?

    My favorite thing about cherry blossoms is how they are like snow when they fall. We have a cherry tree in out backyard and there is another across the street, and, even just from those two trees, sometimes, in the morning, the car is covered in a blanket of petals.

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    • Alex Hurst says:

      Chikan are men who sit or stand on buses/trains that say or do lewd things to young girls and women. It’s a big problem over here: a friend of mine’s 15yo daughter was taking the subway home from school and a man started masturbating while following her (in full view, fly down). Others will rub the thighs of girls sitting next to them, take panty shots under school uniform skirts (which is why all phones are now required to always have a shutter sound), or fondle them in the constantly packed trains. :/

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        • Alex Hurst says:

          Short answer? No. They might get a slap on the wrist, or something, but they hardly ever are treated as more than a public-nuisance. It seems the onus is on the victim–we are taught to directly confront, travel in groups, etc.

          There was this one foreigner who almost got deported, because the pervert behind him reached around him to grope a woman’s bottom, and when she turned, she thought the pervert was the foreigner, and reported him.

          But if a foreign woman (or Japanese woman) actually reports it, depending on the officer, they’ll still pretty much say “You were sorta asking for it, wearing that” or “there’s nothing we can do”, etc.

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  5. deborahbrasket says:

    Beautiful photos! I didn’t realize cherry trees had such a short blooming season. I too prefer plum trees, but only by a smidgin. We just bought one to plant this spring. It may not flower this year, but I’ll be looking forward to next year’s blossoms.

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    • Alex Hurst says:

      Yeah, the season is really short, and even shorter when the weather is fickle. So lucky! I wish we could plant a plum tree. Our garden just doesn’t get enough sun for it, though. :/

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    • Alex Hurst says:

      I’m glad you liked the haiku. I still profess I am pretty awful at poetry, but I was glad I was able to sneak (shoehorn) a double meaning into it. 😛

      It is bittersweet…. but mostly sweet. Their smell is strongest then. 😉

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