Saturday, April 12, 2008
Springtime in Japan
The thing to do in the spring in Japan is to go drink in a park somewhere and enjoy the return of the warm weather. This is called flower viewing (hanami, 花見), because the cherry trees (sakura, 桜) are in full blossom, and probably because this sounds more sophisticated than just coming straight out and saying that you're going to go sit in a park and get drunk.
Everyone has parties and sits on ubiquitous blue tarps and drinks all afternoon. On the weekends, they drink on the tarps all day. The company hanami parties start in the afternoon, so in order to get a good spot for viewing the sakura they send out a junior guy to sit on a tarp all day and wait for everyone else to show up. From what I could see, these guys don't do much drinking on their own.
Some friends and I went to Arashi-yama (嵐山), where I went in the fall to see the leaves change colors in the outskirts of Kyoto. Again it was absurdly busy, but we hiked in a short distance and suddenly it was very quite and absurdly beautiful. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
This next one looks like something out of a movie, but when we were walking back, this dude just sitting there fishing in the early twilight. You can see where the old Japanese painters got their ideas.
When we got back to Osaka, it was just as loud and dirty as ever. When we were hanging out in Ame-mura (アメ村), I got a picture of this thing. I have no idea what it's called, but you can see it's like a cross between a transformer and a lowrider.