“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
Kon’nichiwa! From the time I saw a picture of beautiful Cherry blossoms from Japan on the cover of a Travel brochure, I had always wanted to travel there and see this beautiful time of the season for myself as a bucket list dream.
That dream came to fruition in Tokyo, Japan in late March, early April this year.
As it was peak season, we had opted for a change (with hotels selling out fast in most places in Tokyo) we decided to base ourselves in Odaiba, Tokyo near the waterfront area with accommodation at the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba.
Lucky for us the hotel was near the “Odaiba Marine Park” a quiet and peaceful oasis, with lovely views and boardwalks, surprisingly a mini replica of the “Statue of Liberty” a beach, and ferries and of course cherry blossom trees just coming into beautiful bloom.
I was so excited and wanted to try out my “wannabe” photography skills in capturing “Sakura” in all her magnificent shades of white and pink beauty. I took shot after shot trying to memorialise the true beauty of Mother Nature in this seemingly delicate yet perfectly beautiful springtime moment (never to be seen again until next season).
Our next adventure on the itinerary to admire Sakura was to Ueno Park in downtown Tokyo, which is accessible by catching the “Ginza” metro line.
The Park wasn’t hard to find once you exited the train station, all you had to do was follow the throng of tourists, no doubt on the same mission.
Up the stairs we dutifully climbed, only to be rewarded and greeted by a magnificent tree decorated in all its blooming glory! Naturally everyone was getting the obligatory selfie and shots of the Cherry blossom tree. I was simply and humbly in awe.
However, there was definitely more to explore especially as we strolled along what I called the “Avenue of Cherry blossoms”. It was literally a pathway lined on both sides with flowering cherry blossoms.
Before my trip, my research also revealed that the Japanese people love this time of the year, it is a traditional custom to celebrate with “Hanami” which means “flower viewing” (mainly Sakura). It is an opportunity for family and friends to come together; and eat and drink in the parks and just have some good old fun and an enjoyable time.
Just like me, the tourists’ that I saw in Ueno Park were in awe of this phenomenon, and the locals gathered in the park gave off a welcoming and friendly vibe. I mean no disrespect when I say this, but it was delightful to see ordinary Japanese folk celebrating Hanami in a more relaxed atmosphere, belting out a good laugh or having a joke and just genuinely enjoying each other’s company; rather than the often serious and formal side of their conduct and mannerisms that we see. It was really great to see everyone get their groove on. So, Kanpai! (Cheers!).
I have to say that it was a cold 12-13 degrees while we were in Tokyo (which coming from a hot 28-31 degrees in Queensland, Australia was a significant drop in temperature) and the cooler weather may have affected the full stunning effect of the Cherry blossoms. Some trees were in full blossom while others were on the cusp of flowering.
In hindsight, I would probably have waited and delayed my holiday by a week to see all of the Cherry blossom trees adorned in all their pink and white glory. Nevertheless, I was not disappointed in the least!
Next stop – Senso-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) a Buddhist Temple located in Asakusa.
I had visited Senso-ji on one other occasion before, but that was on a guided tour and we were limited in our time there.
So, now and armed with a bit more time and familiarity – off we ventured.
The splendid gate entry and the Temple itself was just as stunning as I last remembered it to be; only this time there were even more people.
Tourists’ and worshippers’ mingled alike, admiring the trinkets on display in the many stalls or tasting the delicious dishes of the local cuisine on offer.
There was also no end to the overload on our senses as we experienced – the smell of mouth-watering food, the aroma of burning incense, the throngs of people everywhere including Japanese women dressed in beautiful traditional Kimono.
I consider myself a spiritual person and was taken by impulse to offer up a humble prayer; and joined in with other folk as they burned incense (in a large vessel at the entrance to Senso-ji) as we all cupped and waved our hands over our faces and heads for good fortune. I nearly choked from my over-eager approach but enjoyed the spiritual experience and also personally saw it as a sense of cleansing too (to ward off any bad spirits and welcome the good ones).
Then as I focussed on Senso-ji Temple, what should I see but another beautiful Cherry blossom tree in flower!!
This was the finale to what was an amazing day inspired by Mother Nature and for me the epitome of natural springtime beauty.
There is a proverb that says “To everything there is a season” which if we really thought about it relates to our everyday lives, and what better time of the year than spring – a time of renewal and new beginnings.
I sincerely hope that in some small way, this humble blog post has inspired you to travel to Japan and witness for yourself the pure beauty and phenomena that is Sakura or Cherry blossom season.
So, what are you waiting for? Spring to it!
Until next time travel friends – Sayonara!!