Tokyo in Spring, Cherry Blossoms and all

When visited:  April 2014                  Weather:  11-18C.  Cool

Tokyo is always an experience; its culture, its cuisine, its people, its politeness, its cleanliness and I always come away with something new. This time was no different; I was in Tokyo for a meeting which for once coincided with the cherry blossom (sakura) season (typically it’s the first week in April).  So here’s my take on viewing the cherry blossoms (hanami is the word of viewing sakura) if you only have limited time in Tokyo next April.

Singapore Airlines flies into Haneda or Narita and I chose Haneda which is but 20km away from the city and an US$80 cab ride brought us to Akasaka where our hotel was located…useful place for all our excursions.

Tokyo has its landmarks, and here we see the Skytree in the evening light.

skytree

skytree

 

After my conference ended, I had two days to see the cherry  blossoms so bright and early I set off for the Yasukuni shrine and Chidarigofuchi Park nearby. The shrine is of course a place of controversy as war criminals are buried here.  It was a peaceful place dotted with my first glimpse of the sakura trees.

Yasukuni shrine at daybreak

Yasukuni shrine at daybreak

 

entrance to Yasukuni

entrance to Yasukuni

cherry blossoms around the arch

cherry blossoms around the arch

Here’s a tip…take the short walk behind the main building and here you will find a charming little Japanese garden with Koi filled ponds…

Koi under fallen sakura

Koi under fallen sakura

 

And then crossing the road to the Chidorigafushi park, there were many more cherry blossoms in full bloom, reflected in the moat…

cherry blossoms at chidorigafushi

cherry blossoms at chidorigafushi

 

even the raptors were out enjoying the sakura

even the raptors were out enjoying the sakura

 

Next stop was on to the Shinjuku Gyoen Park which was very nice and not too crowded.

pink sakura in Shinjuku Gyoen park

pink sakura in Shinjuku Gyoen park

 

sakura

sakura

gorgeous colours...

gorgeous colours…

beautiful gardens

beautiful gardens

artists were out in force

artists were out in force

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

close ups of different varieties of sakura

close ups of different varieties of sakura

 

And on to my favourite place for the sakura and photography; a friend had recommended I try the Meguro river area and so I headed there in the morning….the stunning effect of overhanging cherry blossoms over a high sided canal was well worth the effort getting there.

cherry blossoms over the Meguro river

cherry blossoms over the Meguro river

 

L1000229 L1000322 L1000218

sakura at meguro

sakura at meguro

 

L1000403

 

towards the end of the week, the cherry blossoms started to fall...

towards the end of the week, the cherry blossoms started to fall…

 

leaving bare twigs

leaving bare twigs

 

bare branch but still pretty

bare branch but still pretty

 

fallen sakura

fallen sakura

 

And since the transience, beauty and romance of Japan in sakura season is so emotive, I was moved to attempt a ‘haiku’ or 3 line Japanese poem…

A fallen petal

Alone, insignificant

Ground blanketed white

 

I liked Naka Meguro so much that I returned in the evening to shoot it in the evening light….L1000463

 

One of the recommended places for Hanami is Ueno park….we made the mistake of going there on a saturday afternoon when there were probably more people there than cherry blossoms! People were absolutely everywhere, tarpaulins were spread out and picnics and commotion ruled….totally not in keeping with the peaceful calm of sakura season. Leaving almost immediately after we arrived, we headed to Asakusa where there were sakura by the Somida river …again nothing to shout about.

All in all, I would say that Shijuku Gyoen Park and Naka Meguro were the best place to go for Hanami…

Tokyo is of course also replete with wonderful Japanese restaurants and food… we ate very well at Tenichi which has the best tempura in town, Kikunoi which is one of the best restaurants in Tokyo and Maisen…best pork cutlets or tonkatsu….all were good but expensive…

tempura from Tenichi

tempura from Tenichi

lobster from Kikunoi

lobster from Kikunoi

Tonkatsu from Maisen

Tonkatsu from Maisen

 

Finally, it was a sobering moment during my dawn walk when I came across these homeless people, sleeping in the open under the beautiful cherry blossoms, a stark reminder that there are many less fortunate than we are who need our help.

sleeping rough under the charry blossoms

sleeping rough under the charry blossoms

 

2 thoughts on “Tokyo in Spring, Cherry Blossoms and all

  1. Hi Ron,
    Enjoyed your postings. There is one important colour missing from your pictures. The colour, green–radiating from my eyes:). I love Japan, its scenery, culture and food. Lucky you! I can only read your comments and enjoy your lovely photos from the vantage of my computer. But vicarious enjoyment is better than nothing. Have a great trip (although it looks like you are doing so already). Love, Belinda

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s