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Published: April 6th 2007
One of many...
Sakura = Cherry Blossom.
Sakura season has landed in Japan. The blossoms have come early this year- we've been subjected to the same short, mild winter as the rest of the world, and they're a few weeks ahead of schedule. It's hard to underestimate how big a deal this season is to the Japanese- it's probably greater in status than the autumn leaves, and is concentrated into one heavy week- if you're lucky. If there's a heavy rain, it knocks them all off. And everyone goes cherry blossom viewing, it's a national pastime. I had no idea how many cherry trees there were scattered around, either, not being botanically minded. But once they hit the flower stage, they really stand out. I also didn't know that there are pretty much no leaves on cherry trees until the blossoms start dying- they look like cotton plants from a distance.
My buddy James had his friends Emily and Mary over from New York, and we all headed off to Himeji to check out the blossom action. They hadn't realised their visit would land in this season, they just lucked out. Himeji castle is one of the top places in the
Someone showed me the macro setting!
country for sakura viewing, and the weather was glorious. The castle itself is amazing enough, but the explosion of whiteness around it transformed it into something impossibly more enchanting. There was no entry fee this week (in celebration of the blossom) so it was obviously packed. After browsing the outer grounds we headed into the main keep, but only managed about three floors. It was so busy, it would have taken an hour of queueing to progress to each floor. Getting down would have been worse. So we bailed for a nice area in one of the outer compounds to drink sake and drink in the atmosphere. The sake drinking is tradition, and there are situations when flying in the face of convention is inadvisable. We wisely considered this to be one of those times. We also had sakura flavoured sofuto kurimu afterwards. It tasted of flowers, and was surprisingly good. I began to see what those lotus easters get all excited about...
Alot of the pictures might look same-same, but I couldn't leave them out. Quite a few didn't make the cut. Anyway, enough words. Please enjoy.
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