Month: April 2014

Is this Shinjuku sidewalk “nanohana” edible?

nanohana_flower_sidewalk_nichome_shinjuku
これは食べられますか。新宿二丁目の歩道で、菜の花が自然に顔を出しています。

It’s spring, and vegetables are growing spontaneously on Tokyo’s sidewalks.

Before the leaves appear, nothing but vertical lines

sendagaya_ginkgo_docomotower_bike
縦の線が見えます。若葉が出る前のイチョウ、ドコモのビル、そして自転車に乗る人が空を指差す様子。千駄ヶ谷で。

The ginkgo trees before the leaves sprout echo the atrocious Docomo tower in Shinjuku. Even the bicyclist adds to the vertical theme.

Almost abstract image of picnic below fading cherry trees

sakura_picnic_shinjukugyoen

ほとんど抽象的ですね。お花見のピクニックです。花見の最後の日は、大体、一番暖かくて楽です。

Towards the end of cherry blossom season, the leaves sprout and the pale pink flowers are replaced by red pistils. The last few days are often warmest and best for picnicking.

 

A pop of color in a river of black and white outfits on crowded sidewalk

shigeki_kunashita_hanami

みんな白黒の服を着ているので、友達の青色の帽子が目立ちます。友達は「ハッセルブラッド」という古いフィルムカメラを持っています。

That’s my photographer friend Shigeki with the bright blue cap and the antique Hasselblad film camera. It was peak day for cherry blossoms at Kudanshita.

 

Random guy on telephone hijacks hanami photo of hipsters with matching bicycles and tans

cute_boy_telephone_bikes_hanami_yoyogi_park
電話している人がこの写真をハイジャックしてしまいました。お揃いの自転車とお揃いの日焼けをしたカップルもおしゃれですね。もちろん、代々木公園です。

This sensory overload, of course, is Yoyogi Park. Thanks to Shu for introducing me to the concept of photo “hijacking,”

Mamas’ club parties at Yasukuni shrine on a weekday afternoon

mama_drinking_yasukuni_jinja_hanami

有名な靖国神社で、若いママたちのグループが一緒に平日の昼間に飲んでいます。

Given its reputation as a place of political conflict and religious fervor, it’s a pleasant surprise to see this mamas’ club relaxing on a weekday, with giant plastic wine glasses, drinks, and strollers.

A rush of young office workers exiting the subway at Kudanshita

kudanshita_metro_exit_young_office_workers_hanami
九段下のメトロから出てくるとき、こんなにたくさんの若い会社員と高齢者の方達が一緒に千鳥ヶ淵に向かっているので驚きました。

Exiting the Metro at Kudanshita, I was unprepared for the rush of young office workers during the first week of April, mixed with seniors heading to see Chidorigafuchi.

A few of the many groups that gather together for cherry blossom season

zapolski_cosplay_shinjukugyoen_hanami

お花見に色々な種類の人たちが集まってきます。真ん中は、サンフランシスコから来た友達で、左にはカップル、右にはコスプレのグループが居ます。次も、花見で見た色々な人たちの写真を載せます。

This year I tried to focus on the different tribes that assemble beneath the cherry trees for hanami season in Tokyo. There were some scenes I expected, and many that were surprises. In this photo of Shinjuku Gyoen, my good friend from San Francisco’s back is in the middle, with a couple on the left and cosplayers on the right.

Do these cherry blossom “souvenir” cakes look good to you?

 

sakura_cakes_shinjukugyoen_hanami

このお花見のとき限定のお土産はおいしいでしょうか? パッケージはきれいだけれど、工場で作った味しかしないかもしれません。

An explosion of pink packaging envelopes these factory-produced cakes, available only during cherry blossom season. I would not classify this as a natural food.

Foreigners still confused that Tokyo-ites love wearing face masks

mask_ad_senior_sidewalk_shinjuku

四月は外国人がたくさん日本に旅行しにきます。「なぜ日本人はマスクを使いますか。放射能が怖いのですか」とみんな私に聞きます。他の国では、病院で働く人たちしか使いません。

April is a month that attracts many foreign visitors. Again, I am asked in hushed tones, are Japanese wearing masks because of Fukushima and fears of nuclear fallout? Anyone who lives here knows it’s allergy season, and many people wear them out of a combination self-treatment and courtesy to others. Masks, normal and even polite in Japan, are perhaps the most common form of exotic costume when seen by foreigners.

Some people prefer full bloom, but I like to watch the petals fall and float off

cherry_petals_lakes_shinjukugyoen
満開の桜が好きな人はたくさんいますが、私は落ちている花びらが好きです。新宿御苑の池で。

In a pond at Shinjuku Gyoen.