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Published: April 20th 2007
Ahh, Spring. I love this time of year. The month of April is like a Xmas advent calender except instead of a little piece of chocloate, each day offers a new bloom. Vibrant pink and red Plum blossoms, the much celebrated Cherry blossoms, or Sakura
, magnolia trees burst with fist sized flowers along the river banks, foreign tulips and dafodils sprout from baskets in front of bakeries, daisies, black-eyed susans, followed by miles and miles of well pruned azaleas and my favorite, the ever fragrant creeping, twisting wysteria vines. It makes the walk to work less burdensome.
The advent of the cherry blossom is closely monitered in Japan. The weather report includes a look at the 'cherry front', a line that advances from the south in Kyushsu, and each weeks climbs another four or five hundred kilometres north-west across the country, reaching Hokkaido by early May. Company parties and old highschool friends make plans long in advance when and where to meet beneath the trees for hanami
, or Cherry Blosom Viewing party. It is my favourite of Japan's traditions and each year I head to Peace Park in Hiroshima to meet with friends and the many new arrivals to
the city's foreign community. April is the fiscal new year so there is the added excitement of sayonara and welcome parties. This year, in defiance of the rain, we had to erect a patchwork tarpauline cover. By the time we had finished, the rain had passed but we left the ropes tangled around trees an bicycles and sat snug under the blue awning, drinking beers and snacking on dried fishy foods. We clebrated late inot the eveing, enjoying the sunset over the park and the arrival of warmer evenings. A week later, I met late Saturday evening in the Peace Park with a large group of Berlitz teachers and students. Already past ten, the park was still crowded with groups of merry makers huddled around obentos, cross-legged on traditional blue tarpaulines. We had failed to reserve a spot and were left with a spot tucked in the shrubs, a large sewer grate, actually. Everyone commented how beatiful the blooms appeared, mankai
, in full bloom. Days later the soft petals had outlived their magic.
I had to say farewell to Dee, one of my longest friendships in Japan. She is returning to Calgary, hoping to open a chai cafe/ yoga
centre. That evening, I bumped across two old friends from Kure, Maria, from Tasmania, and David, from Kingston, who'd spent the past year as a hotel reception in Mexico. It was a much added comfort to see their old familiar faces in a land of strangers and a community of aliens. A bitter sweet note to the festive cherry blossom season, I told my partner I have decided to leave Japan this summer. After spending every weekend together for over a year, I have become very attached to Seiki. We are slowly putting some distance on our relationship.
And back in Canada, my big sister is growing bigger and bigger in each photograph I'm sent. I will be an Uncle come summer!
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