Sakura, Japanese soul flower

In this weekend, cherry blossom (Sakura in Japanese) is in full bloom in Tokyo Japan. I believe Sakura has been one of main subjects in Japanese culture, such as literature, song and paintings, so we can call Sakura as “Japanese soul flower”.

When we woke up on Saturday morning and saw outside from the window of our room, we found a very interesting thing.IMG_0033

Surprisingly there is a road led by Sakura trees in full bloom. We went downstairs and tried to find what it is.

On the way, many people are enjoying Sakura and taking pictures.

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After 5 minutes we arrived at the entrance of the Sakura road. It was a cemetery!IMG_0038

This cemetery is called “Yanaka Reien”, the biggest cemetery in this area. And there are a lot of Sakura trees along the road in the cemetery. According to our neighbors, here is the most famous spot to enjoy Sakura in this area. In the past people even sat down on the ground and drank sake to enjoy Sakura (now it’s prohibited, though…)IMG_0040

Sakura in full bloom is beautiful indeed. But at the same time Sakura sometime indicates an image of death for Japanese since the period when Sakura is in full bloom and thus in its full beauty is very short like human’s life and it scatters too soon like human does.

For example, Sai-gyo, a samurai as well as monk and poet who lived in Japan in the 12th century, made a following famous Tanka (Japanese traditional short poem) shortly before he passed away (above is an original Japanese version and below ( ) is my English translation.)

ねがわくは 花のしたにて 春しなん そのきさらぎの もちづきのころ(現代仮名遣い)

(I hope to die under Sakura tree in spring in that April with full moon)

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I hope this post could somehow express the delicate feeling about Sakura in Japanese culture.

Lastly Sakura is matching with a very American thing, McDonald’s, as well. lol.

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Nippori, our new home

One week ago, we moved to Nippori, Tokyo from the US and started our new life. Our new home is a room in the high-rise apartment next to Nippori station(The building in the center of a photo below).IMG_0018

As soon as we moved here, we liked this area, since this area is close to another area called Yanaka which is famous for Japanese traditional culture. In the center of Yanaka there is a long shopping street, Yanaka-Ginza, with a lot of small shops with traditional stuff.FullSizeRender

For example, a photo below is a Japanese candy shop. On the wall of the shop, they put several paintings featuring famous and traditional temples and shrines in Edo (old name of Tokyo).FullSizeRender (2)

In Yanaka-Ginza, the style for drinking is very casual, too. A photo below is a liquor shop. They sell “Sake” by glass at the entrance of the shop. After purchase customers can enjoy sake sitting on outdoor chairs next to the entrance. And the chairs are actually plastic boxes to be used to deliver sake bottles from the shop to customer’s house!FullSizeRender (3)

And more than all others in this season of late March/early April, Japanese people enjoy cherry blossom in bloom. As of today March 26th, they are 30-40% in bloom in Tokyo. However, those who have short temper have already started gathering under cherry trees and drinking with family and friends all day long.IMG_0026

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It’s said that next weekend is the best time to enjoy cherry blossom. We are looking forward to enjoying the flower most loved by Japanese, and also to drinking some sake…