SOLSC #29: Hanami

DSCN1546The ground is covered with a patchwork of tarps and blankets, each full with groups of family or friends.  As we walk past one area, there is a circle of friends holding a bottle of wine up to a young lady’s mouth while she chugs.  Next to them, another circle watches as a guy leans over on hands and knees and retches into a paper bag.  We continue walking, passing another area with 7-8 people laughing, chatting, and enjoying their bento boxes.  This is the tradition called hanami, or cherry blossom viewing.

By my unoffocial estimation, this is the most popular time of the year for Japanese.  The sakura, or cherry blossoms, are breath-taking, but they only last a week or two, and the Japanese are serious about taking advantage of this opportunity to enjoy the wonders of nature.  Tokyo is a large prefecture and every park will be full of people.  Today, my friends and I are visiting a park that surrounds a small lake (ok, maybe it’s a pond) encircled by sakura, or cherry blossoms.  Unfortunately, the trees are not fully in bloom yet, but they have started so the celebrations have started.  It is also one of the first few warm days we’ve had after a more severe than usual winter.

We sit by the water and unpack our chu-his (corbonated wine coolers), edamami, chips and dip, cheese sandwiches, and rice crackers.  The friendly group next to us takes the opportunity to practice their English.  We discover that one of them lived in North Carolina for 11 years and speaks English with a perfect American accent.  Eventually, we all return to our own people and our own spreads.  On the lake, children, couples, parents and offspring, move around the water in paddle boats and row boats, floating between the trees for close-up views of the blossoms.  As we watch, we chat about baseball, boys and books.  We’re all tired from a busy week, but we’ve made ourselves come out for this picnic because, although the trees are not in their full glory, we all leave for spring break next weekend and we can’t miss this spring tradition.  It turns out that there’s nothing better than fresh air, flowers, a little girl talk to help unwind.




13 thoughts on “SOLSC #29: Hanami

  1. sallydonnelly11

    Due to the longer winter in Washington DC, the cherry blossoms given to our nations Capital by Japan haven’t bloomed yet. The annual festival was held last week without the gorgeous color of the blooms surrounding the Tidal Basin. I enjoyed reading your slice from Japan and look forward to taking a metro ride down to see the DC blooms soon as I live just across the river in VA. I’ll think of you when I go!

    1. readerlee Post author

      I’m so glad you will get to see the DC blooms! Some day I will make it there, but it’s nice to know I will be there in thought this year. 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Tara Smith

    So festive! I imagine that this will take place all while the blossoms are blooming – what a lovely tradition. Unless, of course, you are retching into a paper bag. Then…not so much!

    1. readerlee Post author

      Thanks, Kim. Aside from the excessive drinking, this is a tradition that I really love. It is so nice to see people sitting outside together and enjoying flowers.

  3. shaggerspicchu

    That sounds like an absolutely delightful day! I am glad no one was holding the wine bottle up to your mouth to chug! I was thinking of coming to see the cherry blossoms during my Spring Break this year but then decided that I needed a staycation instead! I do need to take part in this beautiful tradition.

    1. readerlee Post author

      We were laughing as we walked past those kids chugging, thankful that we are past that age! Probably better that you took a staycation this year. I worry about the blossoms. They’re behind forecast, and we had a very rainy and windy day today. I’m sure it took some of the blossoms before they even opened. Hopefully, it’ll be a good week and I’ll get to see some flowers before I leave for spring break.


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