Apr 8, 2008

The Rites of Spring, Part I

The cherry blossoms are a sort of holiday here. There is no specific holiday set aside for them, nor does anyone get the day off. But every year a substantial percentage of Japan's populations breaks out the tarps, packs some junk food and beer, and heads off to O-hanami, cherry blossom viewing parties.

Kori and I had a simple goal two weekends ago. We'd arranged to meet with friends in a Shinjuku park to lay about, eat lunch, and get sounsed while looking at the nation's most recognizable plant. And for a while, we did just that, before the various Shinto deities in charge of dumping rain on Japan decided that they were going to cut short everyone's revelry. We packed up, and settled for karaoke.

The next day was still rainy, and we strolled a bit in Yoyogi Park and in the nearby Meiji Jingu. Pretty much no one was out. They were all sheltered away from the rain, and remnants of hanami-goers hasty retreat from the day before were all around us. All around tarps, bento boxes, plastic containters, beer cans, boxes, and bags littered the scene. There were coke, wine, tea, sports drink, and liqor bottles cast about, and stray bits of food that enormous blue-black crows shoveled into their impressively sized beaks.

It looked precisely like what it was, the foggy and muted aftermath of a giant party. Yoyogi Park was waking up and it was groggy- Tokyo's living room had a bitch of a hangover. The Meiji Jingu was a bit light on blossoms, but I was more than a little amused at a few foreign guys who were ogling the gigantic torii at the entrance.

"They had to use a whole tree to make that thing," one said. Yes, yes they did. Telephone poles are quite the thing, too.

Anyway, the weather was clearing up by the time we got out of the Meiji Jingu, and Kori had a dentist appointment. I was off to Ueno Park. Kori was there last year, and assured me that it was quite the thing for sakura. It was.

I walked through Ueno, and wondered why on earth I didn't have a camera with me. The place was a veritable cathedral of pink. The trees arched over, enmeshing the crowd. The onlookers, in turn, had all manner of extra eyes at their disposal. Digital cameras and cell phones, immense things on tripods with priapic lenses, disposable cameras, iPhones, and a whole menagerie of visual recording. I tried, half heartedly, to snap some pictures on my cell phone. The quality was too poor for it to be worth my while, and I settled for simply looking at my surroundings.

I walked around the park, taking in the seasonal burst of color, looking as much at the people as I did at the flowers. They ogled the blossoms and commented on their prettiness, snapped photos and sipped beer. I went down to Ueno Park's lake and by the water festival type stalls were set up selling festival type food- things fried on skillets, skewered on charred bits of wood or wrapped in greasy paper. I bought a skewer of pork and asparagus, ate it by the water amongst the other onlookers, and strolled about the people as if I were a contented wallflower at a lazy party.

Quite nice, really. The pictures below are from Naritasan, Shinjuku, and a street in Narita near my school.

Then next weekend we went to a penis festival. More on that later.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

No comments: