My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hanami 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I love Spring. For me, the beginning of the season means new life. After months, where most lifeforms have laid dormant ( that's excluding the one-or-two outdoorsy people), and members of the animal community have been in hibernation, everything seems to come to life. And here in Japan, the sight of the Sakura in full bloom heralds-in my favorite Japanese custom - Hanami. During the small window available to celebrate Hanami (7-to-10 days) the alcohol and Bento sales skyrocket as devotees head for their favorite spot and celebrate (one such group I saw back in 2007, had 5-kegs of beer, a fridge, generator, enough food to feed an army).
Hanami 2005.
I remember my first Hanami, back in 2005, when we went to an area in Yawata City. It was perfect - cool blue skies, vivid-white blossoms, copious amounts of food and alcohol, great company - and I came away with a sense of anticipation for future years and, with the eight Hanami I have celebrated in Japan, I am yet to be disappointed. Over those 8-years I have celebrated the occasion in five different locations with this year being slightly different from the past - I celebrated three Hanami. 
Celebrating Hanami
Motokazu-san and Hugo-san
   On Thursday 12th April I joined my friends Motokazu-san and Hugo for a picnic on the grounds of Fushimi-Momoyama Castle. Hugo and I visited the complex a few months ago and were very impressed and decided to return for the occasion. Well stocked with food and beverage, we spent several hours chatting and taking-in the view. And what a view it was - 
Fushimi-Momoyama Castle.
   Could you imagine a better view to relax with, than a castle? I don't think so. The castle grounds were awash with color and, as the day wore-on (and before the alcohol took it's toll) we took a walk with cameras in hand, and the following are some of the images captured.
Fushimi-Momoyama Castle
Main Tower.
   The main tower was difficult to photo due to it's size, plus we weren't able to get far-enough away to capture it. 
Pond and Bridge.
   As we strolled about the grounds, we took a path that eventually brought us to a pond with a quaint wee bridge, with the castle in the background.
My Wife and I
in Kyoto.
    On the third Hanami,on Sunday 15th,I found myself sharing the occasion with my wife and mother-in-law as we strolled-along Kadono Nakadori, an avenue of Sakura that line a stream in Kyoto City.
Kadono Nakadori.
As is always the case, when the Sakura are in bloom, it rains and the blossoms don't stay on the tree for long (as can be seen in the image) but it doesn't stop families/groups from coming out.
Hanami in Kyoto.
   The next anniversary on the Japanese Holiday calendar is Tango no Sekku (Children's Day) where respect for Children and their happiness is celebrated. What makes this event spectacular is all through the community Koinobori (Carp Streamers) are hung - outside homes, across rivers, as in the image below.
Koinobori (Carp Streamers).
Tango no Sekku is one of several anniversaries  that make up the holiday period known as "Golden Week"  and, let me tell you, it is a very busy time. It is a time many holiday-makers travel (my first trip to Japan, in 2000, was during "Golden Week"), but for me, I will be spending the time chilling-out at the "Takatsuki Jazz Street Festival".

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