These photos are from this year’s rather cold cherry blossom season, which meant easier access to some of the best spots. I love the difference in scale between the old trees and the people they attract. I also love how prepared the city is to manage the expected crowds of tree lovers.
A Japanese engineer who had worked on the Panama Canal created this important floodgate and canal alongside the Arakawa River in the 1920s. The red paint and the cherry blossoms make it scenic as well as functional.
UPDATE: Above is the film version, which took awhile to be developed. The colors seem much richer than the digital iPhone image below.
The road through Aoyama Cemetery is lined with gorgeous old cherry trees. I went there for AQ‘s office hanami party, and on the way home I took this photo at twilight.
Nakameguro river is one of the best spots for viewing hanami. Last Friday was approximately 80%. Much family, student, friends, and co-worker public drinking and nature appreciation!
Today it’s windy and raining, so perhaps the season is already over as the petals fall fast.
A costume company had a big hanami party in Yoyogi Koen. There was a ninja, crocodile, lion, bear, rabbit, and frog.
This guy sitting in the middle of his giant l-shaped blue sheet looked lonely so I chatted with him. He was already into his second can of convenience store booze. In Yoyogi Park.
Less than one week later, it feels like a spring afternoon. Tokyo becomes oddly quiet during heavy snowfall. Fewer cars, fewer people outside. This cherry tree outside my local elementary school will be blooming in just one more month.
I love this multi-petal and super-pink cherry tree growing outside my apartment building. At night, it is magical against the clouds and electric power lines. I like that the tree has been trimmed into a lollipop shape. The sight of the petals pooling up in the gutter is also strangely captivating: so pink and so transient.
Fortunately, once cherry trees have finished blooming, there is a burst of spring flowers: azalea, dogwood, lilac, iris, jasmine, and soon roses.
My friend Matt sent me this intricate sakura weather map: it shows the updated forecast for the start of cherry blossoms across the Japanese archipelago. Even if you can’t read Japanese, it’s impressive to see how much weather forecasting amplifies cherry blossom season.
Today I also heard from Twitter’s @Matt_Alt that there are big signs at Inokashira park Big asking visitors to refrain from holding cherry blossom viewing parties there. This is one of Tokyo’s most famous parks, and one of the most popular places for young people to celebrate spring with all night and all day drinking parties.
It’s now just over two weeks after the horrific natural and man-made disaster that began with the East Japan great earthquake. With looming energy shortages, national mourning for the dead, and continued fears about nuclear fallout, Tokyo life will not be the same. Yet it is still impossible to fully know what will emerge in the coming months and years.
Will these events increase or reverse Japan’s hyper-urbanization? How will people respond to new concerns about food and water safety? Can the government and industry regain trust and provide leadership? How can civil society contribute to rebuilding the country and restoring Japan’s international reputation?
And can public spaces and local businesses flourish in a time of anxiety and uncertainty?