Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to present the First Sakura of Spring 2008.
We travelled to Tokyo for a shopping trip on 29th March. As the climate in Tokyo is much warmer, we get to catch first glimpse of Sakura earlier than the residents in cold Nagano. My husband took me to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, where proud 1500 Sakura trees blossomed fully.
Sakura ( 桜 ) or in English; Cherry Blossom, is undoubtedly the favourite flower of the Japanese. There are several varieties of Sakura in Japan, and in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden alone, 75 individuals compete their beauty. From simple 5-petal ones, to heavy multi-layered Sakuras, all in different shades of pink and white.
Some Japanese claim that Spring has officially begun only when Sakura blossomed. Besides being the ambassador of Spring, Sakura plays a major role in the Japanese culture. The Japanese regards Sakura-viewing as a great outdoor event that they call お花見 ( Ohanami ). People gather in groups of family, friends, or colleagues to grab a spot below the Sakura trees and have a picnic. There, they catch up with one another with good flow of food, make merry and enjoy the Sakura viewing.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is no exception of being a favourite picnic location. The crowd was enormous and it was a little difficult to find a quiet spot to take some decent pictures. I had to look up and snap all the time. =P
For Nagano, Sakura is forecasted to bloom in mid April. I hope to share better pictures and more facts about Sakura in my later posts.
Sakura was breathtakingly beautiful indeed, but I can't really agree with urban gardens sometimes... Here as you can see, groups of people gathering and walking over the dried sandy ground, enjoying their picnic. When the wind blows or people start moving around, the air is puffed with dust from the ground and the entire scene actually looks ' yellow '! Having seen this, I've come to appreciate the natural span of countryside where good green fields provide fresher picnic experience.
Set against an urban landscape with high-rise buildings towering at the perimeter of the garden, I couldn't help but to feel that the entire set up a little awkward. Perhaps, it may be that I am too used to seeing Sakura in natural landscape. Nevertheless, my husband and I really enjoyed the Sakura-viewing this time, and I believe so did the rest of the enthusiastic visitors.
Here we are, counting down to Sakura-viewing in Nagano! We are already contemplating our first picnic of the year! =D