cherry blossom

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.

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.

Arakawa river red floodgate with cherry trees in full bloom

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パナマ運河で働いたことのある日本の技師が荒川運河と水門を1920年代に建てました。花見にとても良い場所です。

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.

arakawa_floodgate_cherryblossoms

Very pink cherry blossoms, on Good Friday

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南米に住んでいたことがあるので、聖金曜日が大好きです。ピンクの花びらと「血の休日」はとても合います。

After living in South America, I always enjoy Good Friday. Glad to offer these super pink petals in honor of a bloody religious moment.

Nature in central Tokyo

Chidorigafuchi moat near Budo-kan

In the center of Tokyo, it is possible to be on a row boat and feel removed from the built environment. This is Chidorigafuchi moat near legendary concert hall Budo-kan, on the northwest side of the Imperial Palace. Chidorigafuchi is very famous for cherry blossom viewing (hanami), and practically deserted on this beautiful spring day.

Chidorigafuchi moat, Chiyoda

Flower power

Salary man taking keitai sakura photo at Imperial Palace

Spring in Tokyo reminds you of the power that flowers have to capture human imagination. Cherry blossom viewing, which has its own name in Japanese, hanami (花見), draws people to socialize outdoors, drinking and eating on blue tarps with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

The power of cherry blossoms (or sakura, 桜) even inspires acts of seeming recklessness. In the photo above, an older salary man is perched precariously above the Imperial Palace moat in his quest to take a close-up photo with his cellphone (or ketai).

As an anthropologist and foreigner in Japan, it is also striking to me how specific flower devotion in Japan is. On a hanami stroll, I noticed this beautiful yellow flowering bush called yamabuki, literally “mountain spray.” I have never seen it on either coast in the United States; an internet search gives its English name “kerria.” Despite the crowds in the Tokyo park, I felt that I alone was giving this flower some attention.

Yamabuki in Narita Higashi, Tokyo

At the end of this month, Good Day Books in Ebisu, will be hosting an author’s reading with Enbutsu Sumiko. Her Flower Lover’s Guide to Tokyo offers 40 walks in Tokyo focusing on seasonal flowers in various parks and gardens.

Enbutsu Sumiko, Flower Lover's Guide to Tokyo