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Hanami Happenings

July 23, 2009

(Originally Published 02/04/2008)

Today I went on my first hanami experience!  Hanami means flower viewing, particularly cherry blossoms (not to be confused with the earlier plum blossom viewing), and it’s a really big deal here in Japan during the spring.

During hanami, everyone goes out and sits under the cherry blossoms together and eats, drinks, sings, dances, and plays games together.  In America we have cherry blossoms too in some areas but nobody really makes official events out of going out to sit under the trees and enjoy the transient beauty.  I went to Yawatashi with my friends Lee, David, and Jen and we crossed the bridge to an island park where the sakura trees line both sides of a long path and create a two-kilometer tunnel of blossoms to walk through.  The weather wasn’t very good (kind of cloudy and dark) but it was still really fun and the trees are almost at full bloom so it was really beautiful.  We went on a weekday because it’s going to be hellishly busy during the weekend.  There were still quite a lot of people out celebrating even though it was a normal workday.  We sat around eating snacks and drinking a little alcohol and laughing and talking about all sorts of things.  After that we played a little Frisbee by the river and talked with a few Japanese kids who were sliding down the side of the grassy bank on cardboard sheets.  I had picked up a really cool Chili Beer from the liquor store before we went out and it had the most natsukashii (nostalgic) flavor for me.  There was a chili pepper inside the beer bottle and it was such a wonderful flavor.  It was like eating a spicy taco pizza while drinking a beer.  A perfect combination in my book.  David picked up a sakura-flavored chu-hi (fruity alcoholic drink) and even though it tasted like cherries instead of cherry blossoms it still tasted great.

Here are some pictures from the day.

And, of course, a few cool signs!

We stopped by Iwashimizu Hachimangu shrine in Yawatashi before returning home and while we were there an older Japanese woman came up to talk with us.  She asked us where we were from and then gave us takoyaki (really, really good takoyaki!) and then gave us croquettes (which she said were originally for her husband but she’d rather have us eat them) and then she took us out for tea and mochi from a little teashop nearby!  Man, talk about nice!  It was really fun to talk with her.

I’ve got a few more pictures I want to share here that I found lurking somewhere on my computer and thought I should finally post.  This first one is a sink outside of a restaurant in Umeda.

No smoking signs are always the most creative:

That’s it for today, but there will be more!

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