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.
Just before summer starts is one of my favorite seasons in Tokyo. This is the river in Nakameguro famous for its cherry trees. I already want to put my feet in the water.
I love this elegant cherry tree in bloom at a highway rest stop. In the background, you can see a row of cherry trees lining the highway. I am rarely a car passenger in Japan, but I was my in-laws on a day trip last weekend.
In the United States, highway rest stops have a bad reputation: dirty, few food options, insufficient toilets, and an atmosphere of decrepitude and crime. In Japan, they are immaculate, constantly renovated, over-supplied with clean toilets, food options that rival a large mall, and endless rows of souvenir edible gifts for people you will visit or for friends and family back home.
I recently learned the word hanafubuki (花吹雪), which means flower blizzard. At the end of cherry blossom season, city pavement becomes a pink carpet. Along with watching the petals fall from the tree, this carpet is one of the best parts of hanami.
This photo is from a small park in Tatsumi, between Tokyo Bay and the southern edge of Shitamachi. It also borders Yumenoshima. Now that I discovered an Olympic pool in Tatsumi, I will be spending more time in this strange zone caught between nature, industry, trucking and warehouses, new and old housing, and stacked freeways.
Omotesando Koffee の入口はとても素敵です。美味しいコーヒーが飲めるだけじゃなくて、小さい庭が四季を感じさせてくれます。春に、桜とモクレンが咲いていて、金属製の花瓶には毎週、違う花がいけてあります。おしゃれなお客さんは三年以上の常連で、バリスタオーナが東京に来る前に、大阪のカフェにも行きました。
This is the lovely entrance to Omotesando Koffee. It would be enough just being one of Tokyo’s best espresso coffee bars. O K also sells a single pastry that is eggy and square and incomparable. And O K has a micro-garden that is incredibly charming, with many traditional Japanese plants including maple and a lovely drooping cherry tree with long stemmed flowers.
The fashionable gentleman in the photo explained to me that he used to drink coffee at the Osaka coffee bar run by the same owner, before he moved to Tokyo three years ago. In the foreground is a lovely, metal sculpture and flower vase with understated petals.
Visiting Omotesando Koffee you feel like you’re on a country lane, not in the middle of a mega-city.
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.
This temple in Shinjuku’s Ni Chome is a quiet open space in a crowded part of the city. It’s a great juxtaposition of the sacred and ordinary, nature and the built environment.
This day, the cherry tree in bloom seems to have enticed more people to enter. I am always charmed by the red cloth bibs place on buddha and ojizo statues. The bibs make me think the statues are preparing for a meal.
DId you know that Oshima island, off the coast of Izu, is part of Shinagawa ward? From the pier near Hamamatsucho, it’s an eight hour overnight ride on a slow and rather large boat. I recently went with Paper Sky’s Bicycle Club.
Highlights included watching the sun rise at black lava rock “desert” atop the volcano, fun and fashionable cyclists in their twenties, thirties, and forties, the slow over-night boat ride, two onsens, a small port made from a volcanic crater. We saw the end of the camellia season, the blooming of Oshima cherry trees, and ate ashitaba leaf vegetable. Dai dai cocktails cmobined local citrus with booze.
I am now even more impressed with Paper Sky, which is a travel magazine and also the hub of mountain climbing, food, book, and bicycle clubs. My fellow travelers were an interesting mix of bicycle sellers, magazine editors, serious and hobby cyclists, photographers, and creative types. I was surprised that the rental bikes were all Bruno bikes, which have small tires, great colors, and are excellent for city biking and mid-range touring.
With its real world events and groups, Paper Sky’s publisher, Knee High Media, is clearly thinking about a new type of publishing beyond paper, the web, and smart phones.
I had never seen a highball, or a whiskey and soda, in a can before coming to Japan. Here Suntory has dressed up the can for cherry blossom viewing.
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.
Even on a weekday before peak cherry blossom season, Shinjuku Gyoen has plenty of photographers and people strolling around the trees. The yellow flowers in the foreground are sanshuyu, a Northeast Asian dogwood that produces cherries and is used in Chinese medicine. I like the documentation and how the pond connects the yellow and pink blossoms.
Because of this parking lot, the result of another building torn down, you can see into the back garden of a Showa house in Shibuya, not far from NHK’s headquarters. The two story house is the last remnant of the older neighborhood that was replaced starting in the 1970s with taller, mixed use buildings. I’m glad this early blooming cherry tree has survived until now. It was a pleasant surprise after a Barbados lunch with @a_small_lab and @jessmantell.