Spring in Ueno 上野の春

Ueno Park April 2014Today I took a walk through Ueno Park, very close to where I live. Since last week there have been all kinds of people, Japanese and non-Japanese, flocking to the park for cherry blossom viewing.

It seems like there are more birds out too. The common gulls (Larus canus) are now out in addition to the slightly smaller black-headed gulls (Larus ridibundus) that can usually be seen at Shinobazu Pond. They’re all getting along quite nicely. Pretty soon the insects will be back too. Spring is here!

Parties on Blue Tarps, Ueno ParkDrinking sake and nibbling on food under the blossoms sure is nice. Today too, parties were sitting on their blue tarps, cheerfully carrying on. I noticed that everybody takes their shoes off before sitting on the tarps. I suppose it’s best to keep the area clean and cozy since some people end up drinking too much and falling asleep.

Common and Black-headed Gulls, Shinobazu PondJapan sure is nice in spring.


Ueno Park, 2014人間だけじゃなく、鳥も増えている気がします。ちなみに、不忍池にいつも見かけるユリカモメだけじゃなく、もうちょっと大きいカモメも来ています。皆仲良くやっているみたいです。もう少ししたら虫も出てくるでしょう。(おけら、毛虫、ゲジ〜 ♪)春ですね。

Ueno Park, April 2014花の下でお酒を飲んだり、つまみ食いをしたりするというのはいいですね。今日も、ブルーシートの上に座る皆さんがとても陽気でいい感じでした。一つ気づいたことがあって、皆ブルーシートに座る前に靴をちゃんと脱ぐんですね。まあ、飲み過ぎて寝てしまう方もいるので、きれいに気持ちよくやった方がいいですね。



Hanami with Shishô 師匠と花見

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, Somemaru invited me to join him on a cherry-blossom-viewing excursion, in Kyoto. Our destination was the Daigoji Temple complex, which has long been praised for its beauty during the four seasons, and is today a World Heritage Site.

I have known for some time about Japanese people’s fondness of nature, and particularly cherry blossoms. I remember the first time I was surprised by this: my host brother from a previous homestay sent me a picture of himself engulfed by sprays of cherry blossoms in full bloom. At first, by sending such a picture, I thought he was attempting to appeal himself romantically…

I now know better. I understand that cherry blossoms hold, and have long held, special meaning for Japanese people. Among many other things, cherry blossoms represent the beginning of spring, and the “official” end to winter darkness and cold.

Though we also viewed any number national treasures–buildings, statues, paintings, and tablets of poetry written by Heian (794-1185) courtiers, the cherry blossoms in full bloom stole the show today.

No matter how many times I see it, I am always surprised to see throngs of Japanese out at this time of year, taking photo after photo of cherry blossoms, pushing their way through crowds in hopes of getting the perfect close-up, or their own picture with the blossoms, oohing and aahing, going on nonstop about just how beautiful they are… Maybe what is even stranger is that I ended up in the middle of them doing the same…

Thank you for a wonderful day of cherry blossom viewing, Shishô. Spring has come!

Here are a few of the MANY pictures I took today: