Friday, April 10, 2009

花吹雪 dance of the cherry blossom petals

These past few days have been nothing but hanami hanami hanami ^.^ Kinda strange that this year I've been out at gardens and parks so much and I'm not quite sick of the cherry blossoms yet.

I guess it's a blessing in disguise that I am on "extended leave" now, so I can be out on weekdays enjoying the beautiful spring weather, though there were times I felt rather guilty for being out when everyone else had to work/study!

My 4th hanami was at Shinjuku Gyoen, which was once an imperial garden meant for the royalty. Well-maintained and surprisingly spacious considering it is located in the middle of Tokyo, the garden is a blend of 3 distinct styles - French Formal, English Landscape and traditional Japanese.

With approximately 20,000 trees, out of which 1,500 are those of the cherry variety, this park is one of the top favourites at hanami season. Considering its proximity to Shinjuku-ni-chome (Tokyo's best known gay village!), it's not surprising that mass hanami parties are organised by local gay bars. Too bad we didn't see any groups like that.

Knowing that the park would be packed at weekends, we decided to drop by in the middle of the week. And yet, there were still so many people. The good thing about Shinjuku Gyoen is that alcohol and pets are not allowed, so I give it a thumbs up over Yoyogi. The 200yen admission fee was well worth it.

This year's hanami was a little special because it was longer than expected; we're now entering into the 3rd weekend (and I still have 3 more invitations in the coming days!) and yet, the sakura fever has not died down yet.

And also, I discovered something really breathtaking - the 花吹雪, hanafubuki. This occurs towards the end of the lifespan of the cherry blossom, when the flowers are at its peak and in full bloom.

When the wind blows, the petals are torn away from the receptacles and seemingly dance in the air until they fall to the ground below.

The most magical moment is during strong gushes of wind when countless petals fall to the ground, slow and delicate.

From afar, it looks like snow falling. It's like winter in springtime.

From below, it's like magic being sprinkled. It's something you wish could last forever.

花吹雪 【はなふぶき】 (n) falling cherry blossoms

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