Ohanami in Japanese, simply translated, would be “flower watching.” But specifically, the term refers to what people do in the spring when the sakura (cherry blossoms) begin to bloom. You can find them everywhere in Japan, even lining the streets. But there are also many special places of particular beauty where one can go to view the sakura. Ohanami is going to one of these places to be in the presence of the sakura and is often times accompanied by food, friends, and alcohol. The sakura are now blooming here in Kagawa and I feel incredibly fortunate to still be here in Japan.
Quick side note on that thought. I am indeed lucky to be here still. As of last week on Thursday I was still waiting for confirmation that my application for my visa extension had been accepted. After over a month of waiting, it finally got approved and I now have another six months to stay in Japan if I so choose. Although, I will only be here for four more, as I need to return in time to promptly continue my studies at the university. Now, back to the real topic of this post!
This is the time of year that I have been most looking forward to during my time in Japan! It has finally arrived and last friday, I went with a good friend of mine to a park which I have attended and written about many times before, Ritsurin Koen. Fall Illuminations or Park Tour for example. For this hanami experience I brought along a couple blankets, my camera of course, some sake, and some sushi rolls bought from the store. For additional food items I cooked up some steak for some “slider” type sandwiches, homemade guacamole with crackers, a sliced pineapple, and a batch of small pancakes. We were definitely not hungry when we left! But, we arrived at around 3:30 or so in the afternoon and laid out our blanket to begin our first hanami experience!
During our time in the park, among other things such as eating, drinking, wandering, talking, or sitting in silence, enjoying the serene presence of the beautiful cherry blossoms, we began working on a drawing as a birthday gift to a mutual friend. She being the artist, did most of the work, however I drew the flowers and wrote the accompanying haiku.
In this picture you can see the place where we settled down, as well as my friend, and a couple of lights (which I’ll get to in a minute). It wasn’t our first plot that we had settled in, but we discovered it while walking the park. It was an easy decision considering the neighboring group of college boys next to us. Our next location was very quiet, had a much softer bed of grass, and an enveloping canope of cherry blossom flowers.
There are many wonderful things that make Ritsurin Koen special. One of them is that they do lighting for the sakura during hanami season, which makes the night viewing just as enjoyable, if not more so, than the day’s. It was really quite beautiful. So much so that we stayed until closing time at 9:00 when one of the staff came by to let us know they were closing.
All-in-all, I had a fantastic day! I had a feeling it would be, but now I know for certain that ohanami is definitely one of my absolute favorite things about Japan. My next ohanami will be later in the season when the flowers begin to fade, and the sweet breeze becomes a shower of swirling pedals.
Until next time!