Friday, May 7, 2010

Hana me

Hanami is a special season in Japan. This is my retrospective.

First of all, I like the term. 花見 just means flower-viewing. But it sounds to me like HANA-me. (hana = flower) … like “Beer me,” only FLOWER ME.


Anyway, tis’ the season in March/April when the cherries are all a-blossom, and when we returned from Okinawa we landed right in the middle of full-explosion cherry storm.

The term mostly refers to the practice of getting a blanket, some snacks and drinks of your choice, and finding a nice place to sit and chill in a park for a while. From what I understand, it’s mostly meant to be a nighttime drinkfest, but I saw students doing it by afternoon, too.

I have to say I like the idea of a customary tribute to spring. In my life, spring has always induced a lot of regret, chiefly because that’s when school is ending, and that means two things. One, you’re beginning to run out of time. Two, you’re beginning to run into final papers and projects. I have acute memories of the physical pain I felt knowing it was So. Beautiful. outside, and I was trapped at my desk because I decided to write a thesis.

That it’s basically socially unacceptable to not spend a little time outside during hanami season is kind of nice. Especially for me, because it allows me to write off one thing in favor of OH LOOK I HAVE TO GO DO THIS CULTURAL EXPERIENCE (itISwhatI’mHereForAfterAll,Right?!)…!

One of the most popular places to be for this year’s hanami was Himeji Castle, since immediately thereafter, the castle was going under restorative wraps. It’s not yet covered, but I believe parts of it are closed. The Okinawa trip precluded us from hanging out with 80,000 of our closest flower-viewing friends (that is not a slip of the decimal.. there were that many), but I still got some tastes of hanami in my own little ways.

This season was (have I mentioned this before?) COLDER THAN NORMAL years, so hanami wasn’t exactly a sunny stroll in the park. I did not spend my afternoons post-work lolling in the shade of cherry trees drinking sake. Hah. You wish.

On April 6th, this was my river-path walk to work from the bus stop:

And on the 7th, we trundled down to Himeji Castle for night views from the Princess side of the park around the castle itself. Normally you have to pay to get in, but I guess we-about-to-close-this-shit-for-7-years-or-so makes it a special occasion. It was really freakin’ cold that night. I wore two pairs of pants and was glad to have done so.

Classic view. Which is really, really hard to shoot if you don't have a tripod and can't hold your hands still. This was the best I could do in like six thousand takes.

Himeji and her reflection.

Chiefly the reflection.

On the 8th, my school had lunch outside. It was an absolutely gorgeous day.


The post-lunch scurry.

My big kids hold baby bunnies at big elementary.

I also went on a random walk that afternoon.

A hana-tastic view of my town.

Find something new every day.

Then we had the scheduled Salamander hanami party at night. It was chilly, so we went inside fairly quickly.


On the 13th I thought Jermaine was healed, so I tried to go for a jog. I ended up just going for a walk and taking lots of pictures.

Nature "gomi" (trash) litters the bank.

More nature gomi

High in the side of a hill, there is this shrine.. It's awesome. The wind was really going that day, too.

It is definitely one of my favorite shrines.

The end of the short, chilly, wet hanami season was marked by our Himeji Ride, as we biked through gusts of drifting petals. A pale pink blizzard, if you will.

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