When we planned our trip to Tokyo, we were aiming for kaika jiki (開花時期), blooming season–the time when the cherry blossoms open, leaving parks and paths sheltered under a cloud of pale pink. The problem is, there is no exact date when the sakura will bloom. It all depends on the weather…the crazy, unpredictable weather.
As luck would have it, we missed the prime viewing time (the blossoms really burst open to full bloom after we left) and it was raining on our “sakura day”–our last day in Tokyo. But we got to see some pretty blossoms anyway and next year we hope to go back around the same time, maybe a week later to improve our chances. Sigh…We ended up trying out a few different spots to see if we could find a nice patch of trees in a park. Our first stop was pretty miserable because our poor umbrella blew inside out…twice…to the point where it wasn’t even fixable. I almost gave up because we were drenched and cold. On a bad tip from a local, we ended up at Meiji Shrine, where we eventually learned, after a ton of walking in the pouring rain, that there were no sakura. Naoto carried around the broken umbrella because he felt “disrespectful” leaving it in a trash can. (I don’t get it either.) I’m not sure what was worse: getting drenched while we carried a closed umbrella and having people wonder why we weren’t using the umbrella or pretending the broken umbrella was effective (up above). We finally broke down and found replacements at the shrine gift shop and they graciously took the broken umbrella off of Naoto’s hands. Whew!Finally, we ended up at a park near Harajuku and we were met with a grove of blooming trees. And then, all of the rain was worth it. There is nothing like the pale pink of a sakura bloom! The park was breathtaking, even in the rain.
It was fun to see some brave souls enjoying early ohanami (the act of sakura viewing which usually includes a spread of food and drink) under a tent. I felt a little sad that we didn’t get to sit under the trees on a warm, sunny day, enjoying the blossoms, snacks and sake. Hopefully next year. I think that part of the beauty of sakura season is its unpredictability and its impermanence…I can only appreciate that I got to see the blooms in the beginning of their glory. They were so stunning, I can’t imagine how they will look at full bloom.
Next year. Next year.