Sakura – cherry blossoms – are one of the common images of Japanese culture. The fleeting existence of the blossoms and their incredible beauty and delicacy have inspired artists of all genres and give good reason for the citizens of Tokyo to come out to the parks and celebrate the emergence of another spring.
Had we arrived a week earlier, we would have seen them in their fullest stage, but per Masakazu’s recommendation we headed directly to the park on our first day here to catch them while we still could. Thankfully, we did, because the breezy weather had pretty much stripped the trees by our second day here.
Ueno Park is nearby our hotel, home to the zoo and several museums, and adjacent to Tokyo University. This is one of the popular places to come see the sakura.
Everyone was out, even in the midst of a weekday morning. Business men, pre-schoolers, retirees. And lots of people had cameras. So much appreciation for nature.
Who wouldn’t be inspired to write a poem? The brown stalks are lotus. In the summer, this whole lake it filled with chest-high lotus blossoms.
Some of the sturdier types of blossoms were still out in full force, giving us an amazing display of colors.
The park was full of vendors, visitors, and recycling bins to sort out the rubbish left by the sakura-viewers. Not the sheets laid out in the shade. Different groups staked their claim to viewing spots for after-work parties. We were amazed by how many groups of office workers came out in the evening to sit under the trees, drink, and socialize.
Above, a Thai monk poses for a picture with the sakura. Below, sakura in the setting sunlight.
Ueno Park also has a long line of tori gates, which mark the entrance to a shrine. Their orange-red hue is amazing and the repetition of the gates makes for a meditative walk through them.
In the evening, the crowds came to the park, taking their reserved spots and enjoying the pleasant weather and the remaining blossoms. Dozens of vendors served favorite snacks and everyone was drinking. So far, I’m of the opinion that the Japanese are a pretty heavily drinking population, at least those who live and work in Tokyo.
Above, a view of the vendors lining the path to one of the shrines.