The sakura are in bloom!
The buds started to open up this past weekend, and as of today they are in full bloom around Tokyo. This means that people are taking to the parks in droves, complete with plastic tarps, gobs of snacks, and plenty of liquor. On Saturday Joe and little dude and I enjoyed a picnic lunch beneath the sakura in Arakawa-ku. The above and below pics are from then.
Today I picked up some bakery bread on my way into the research institute and had a mini picnic beneath the sakura in Ueno Park. The trees there are among the most famous in Japan, and walking along the lined pathway, it is easy to understand why.
There is no way that photos can do sakura justice. The experience of seeing thousands of people of all ages and in all types of groups (work groups, families, school groups, friends, etc.) gathering for what amounts to a national picnic is like nothing else. The soundtrack of laughter, kampai (cheers), and occasionally someone playing traditional music is pretty awesome.
The texture of the trees is also difficult to capture in two-dimensions. The flowers are fluffy and airy, and when they reflect the sunshine on a blue sky day like today it makes one feel as if in the clouds.
The joy of the experience is seen with kids and old folks, people taking selfies on their lunch break (like me, but I was definitely not the only one!), tourists and locals alike.
On my way back to the station after an afternoon at work, I caught some bonus sakura by the cemetery that I pass, complete with Sky Tree in the far distance. Little dude, my mom and I also took a dinner picnic beneath the sakura in Asukayama Park, enjoying the blossoms at twilight and into the dark, lit by the small lanterns that line the paths near the trees.