Monday, 5 April 2010


Hanami literally means watching flowers, but it really refers to picnicking beneath the cherry blossoms. The last few days here have been lovely and warm and the cherries are in full bloom right now so yesterday we did what everyone else in town was doing - hanami.

We took the easy option and just bought some snacky food from the stalls set up in the park. There was fried chicken and chips, octopus dumplings (takoyaki), grilled chicken on skewers (yakitori), noodles, grilled squid, fish-shaped cakes filled with sweet bean paste (taiyaki), toffee apples (and other fruit too), candy floss.... the full range of Japanese festival food.

Trying to avoid the long queue to get into the obviously full car park, we parked in the hospital car park and then climbed over the fence into the park. We found a good spot to set up our regulation blue plastic sheet, had a wander around for a bit and then got down to the eating bit.

Just in case you believe the books and imagine that hanami is a peaceful, relaxing event where one can contemplate the fleeting and ephemeral nature of life, as represented by the beautiful but short-lived cherry blossoms, here's the reality...

Lots and lots of people crowded together under the trees, eating, drinking and barbecuing. Large groups of people send scouts ahead early to lay out their blue sheeting in the best spot available, sometimes even roping areas off to prevent others stealing their place. Radios and children were playing and generators for the food stalls were running but it was still a lovely day to lie back, feel the sun on your face and enjoy the blossoms.

And of course it was Easter! Easter is not celebrated at all in Japan and I've never made any efforts to make a special day of it here. Maybe next year, when K's a bit bigger, we'll do some egg decorating and maybe even an egg hunt but, for now, Easter for us is a few cards and chocolate eggs kindly sent from England. Thank you!

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