This year’s destination was the famous Yoyogi Park, across the road from the ultra-hip Harajuku and next door to the ultra-traditional Meiji Shrine. As soon as you get off at Meiji-jingu-mae Station, prepare to be sucked into a vortex of jubilant picnickers, overjoyed that the cold weather is (mostly) over.
As far as vortexes go, it’s a pretty good one to be in.
I can easily go a whole week without seeing another Westerner, so I’ve become used to being a bit of a novelty around town. In Yoyogi Park, however, I can feel any cachet I once had drain away as soon as I step foot inside. Every foreigner in Tokyo must have assembled there, called by some mystic western hemisphere pheromones, mucking up the place with their conspicuous internationality. Still, if a place is this crowded, you know it’s good and will put up even with reduced cultural curiosity.
Now then, to business! Bentos, beer and… basically that’s it. Tarps are the order of the day. Not a blanket to be seen:
The shame of it all is that by the next weekend, these inspiring fluffy petal formations will be all but gone. It’s glorious yet tragic, perhaps even worthy of a traditional, highly structured poem of some kind.
Other than the flowers, the thing I love most about hanami (flower-viewing) is seeing office workers, black suit clad by weekday, getting out and about, letting their hair down, wearing horse heads:
Ahh, spring. Aww, spring:
Someone in our group (hey there!) had an excellent legal drug-pushing contact, resulting in a veritable bathtub of cheap beer. Unfortunately, he had appeared to invite the most teatotaling group of people in Tokyo, leaving him with excess supply and seriously considering starting a temporary street vending business.
More photos after the break…
Scientific observation: to be popular at hanami, take a hat and guitar. Ability to play the guitar might also be a factor, but I’m still awaiting peer review of my findings.
Ladies, don’t drink or eat anything, otherwise you’ve got a lot of lining up to do.
By 7 pm, most of the people in this photo were cold, full of beer and non-responsive to external stimuli.
The cherry blossoms near my house are already threatening to flutter to earth, leaving their parent trees looking merely beautiful rather than inspiringly beautiful. I’ve got one more party to go to – hang on!