Sunday, April 22, 2007
Ok, it's official - I'm no longer a hanami virgin. I have popped the proverbial cherry... blossom. (cue slapstick bad pun drum roll ;P) One may wonder how I almost got through 2 full seasons of hanami in Japan and not gone to one, which I think may actually take more effort than just following everyone and going - and I do mean everyone.
See, last time in Chiba I went out to Ueno park in Tokyo and did in fact go to see cherry blossoms (hana=flower, mi=see), but I did not sit on a tarp for hours on end hopping from party to party with friends and random people in an excuse to get as much beer and snacks in my face as is possible for as long as possible, so it didn't count. That time we walked through, drinkless, looked at the flowers, then went to your standard izakaya restaurant/bar and that was that. No real different than any other night out, really.
This time around was sooo different though. These things are going on all day and pretty well into the night, and I'm talking weekends and weekdays, weather allowing of course. I hear stories of many a weekday warrior going straight from work/school to hanami, returning home on the last train, then waking up the next day to do it all again. I wasn't that sprite and nimbly-bimbly, but I did get around to the first part of that equation. I just happened to have today off, that's all, and if it wasn't pouring out here today I'd probably be out there again.
To give you a mental image to accompany the physical specimens that will follow (as in pictures), there are tarps under trees and people sit on them, normally with copious amounts of various alcoholic beverages and snacks. With "Dutch courage" in hand, it also seems a lot more common to see people mixing groups here and flowing over into the next group, which is normally a no-no in Japanese etiquette. Unless you're white, then of course you just do whatever you want as normal. As I mentioned before, it's sort of like a swarm of little outdoor parties/picnics within close proximity of one another and no barriers separating them. An izakaya without the walls if you will. It really doesn't have much to do with the flowers - I mean, you can barely even see them at night. Granted however, this may just be the modern perversion the kids have given to a time honored Japanese tradition that's been going on since the days of Genji and beyond - I've heard as much for the coming of age festival, in which newly legal drinkers don't wait to get home from the ceremony to get belligerently loud and obnoxious. Anyway, in it's current incarnation I'm thinking during the day it's closer to a picnic with a beer or two, but given the fact that the average Japanese person loves to drink despite being extremely weak at it that sort of falls apart as day progresses into night.
So yeah, good times. And with that and no further ado, I present you more pictures. Proceed to flickr and enjoy the rest of your day.