Thursday, April 8, 2010

Virtual Hanami Party

Today is a gray and rainy spring day in Kentucky, perfect for tea drinking and splashing my way to class. Not so perfect for taking one of the sunny strolls I've been treating myself to. Since I can't get outside and walk, I thought I'd revisit some places I've been, places where I'd love to return.

Won't you come along on this virtual walk with me? It's going to require some imagination. We're going to have to imagine we can fly or perhaps teleport around the world to Japan, where hanami parties are going on as we speak.

Osaka Castle

Hanami mean flower-viewing in Japanese. People spread blue tarps beneath the trees, eat rice balls and grilled fish, drink sake and cold beers, and gaze up at the pink sakura (cherry) blossoms. Parties go on late into the evening until the sky is so dark that the blossoms are no longer visible. The only way you sense their presence is the sweet smell that lingers in the air, mingling with the smokiness left from grilling.

Our first stop is the green-roofed Osaka Castle perched amongst a bevy of cherry trees, their branches heavy with blossoms. An air of festival surrounds that castle, making it seem like a separate world from the large modern city around it. Vendors sell food--Osaka specialties like takoyaki and sweets like taiyaki, filled with bean paste.

Himeji Castle

Next we find ourselves at Himeji Castle, nestled between Osaka and Hiroshima. We're not the only ones here. It seems half of Japan has heard about the beauty of this castle in the springtime when its gardens fill with pink flowered trees. There's a festival in full swing here, and we even get to try our hand at making mochi, pounding the rice with a heavy wooden mallet into a smooth, chewy paste. It's delicious when filled with bean paste and dusted with ground sesame seeds.

Scattered flowers on moss at Ginkakuji--The Silver Temple

We backtrack a bit for our last stop, the Silver Temple in Kyoto where the garden is filled with dozens of different kinds of mosses--soft, scraggly, short, lush. The trees here have dropped some blossoms. The sun filters through the branches, dappling moss and petals with light. Breathe in the warm air. It's calming, no?

I think we should go for tea now--green--to be drunk outdoors on a bed of moss beneath the cherry trees.

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I hope you enjoyed the walk (and the flying and teleporting...we are skilled travelers). Have a great day!

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These pictures were taken in Spring of 2008 when my uncle came to visit K and I in Japan. We traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Hiroshima. We managed to time it so that the cherry trees were in bloom in every place we visited. Amazing!


  1. LOVE the Japan pictures. Brought back such wonderful memories of when David & I visited you & K. So glad we made the trip.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. I would love to see it in person some day! In other news, check out my post today...I have something for you! :)

  3. Now I'm getting that traveling itch! How nice of you to share your adventures. And, your new header looks great.

  4. Gorgeous! I'm really hoping I get to tag along with The Mr. to Japan this year...

  5. Oh, how I'd love to go to Japan! Someday, someday. This is a great little teaser. The photos are gorgeous.

    (And loving the new spring-y colored banner at the top!)


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