Fukuoka

Sakura, sakura

Tis that time of year again, brilliant bursts of white and pink exploding from parks, river banks, random street corners. The blossoms were slow to come, and all too quick to leave, especially when spurred on by wind and rain. Last year brought me some magical sakura experiences in Takamatsu and Kurashiki, and this year brought my first real hanami, and a chance to share the joy with an old friend.

Last week, I did a whirlwind trip through Maizuru park after dark, to see the castle ruins lit up. I ponied up 300 yen to get into one of the limited viewing sections, around an old guard house. It was nice, but would be even nicer at full bloom.

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Maizuru Park at night

This past weekend, it was off to Tokyo, for a seiyuu event and a live on Saturday, then Sunday to meet up with my good friend from college, Alice, and her husband Erich, in Tokyo for the cherry blossoms. I suggested a couple of places, Yasukuni Shrine and around the Budokan, so we met up in the early afternoon at Kudanshita … to a veritable wall of people. I am so spoiled by Fukuoka that Tokyo amazes and exhausts me with the sheer volume of people.

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Nakano

Anyhow, the normally staid Yasukuni was in full festival mode, with food and beer stalls and lots and lots of people. And sakura. I remembered that behind the shrine is a little koi pond, which turned out to be less populated.

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Yasukuni Shrine

From there we wandered back across the street to the Budokan and into the park beyond it, where I’d never been. It’s a lovely little park, and I’ll have to go back some time when I’m not standing in line outside the Budokan waiting to get in.

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Near the Budokan

From there it was a short walk to the Imperial Palace gardens, where I hadn’t been in almost a decade.

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Imperial Palace Gardens

After all that walking, food was in order, so we walked some more (of course) to Tokyo station, to explore the options. Ended up at an Okinawan restaurant with pork, pork and more pork on the menu. We showed restraint and had only two pork dishes — salted and pork belly — plus deep-fried scorpion fish, mugwort/spinach fritter, taro/shiitake/pork fritter and gyoza. Very tasty! The day went by too quickly, but it was very good to spend time with the two of them, and get to show off a little of this place I adore so much.

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Back home, I took off work a little early on Monday and ran around getting more sakura pics in Nishi Park and Maizuru Park.

And Tuesday night I enjoyed my first hanami, meeting up with friends Lexi, Diana and Junko, and new friend Natsumi for food and sparkling sake beneath the cherry trees between Ohori and Maizuru parks. Good food and company, and another first accomplished here.

 

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