Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No cherries but plums are pretty good too

We left Japan on Sunday the 23rd, thus missing the cherry blossom season by a week or so. We had been hoping that global warming would accelerate the whole blooming process for our sakes – but who’d have though that this would be one of the coldest winters and springs of recent years? Bah!

But, as we say in these parts, ne’er mind. Shinjuku Gyoen may not be awash with a riot of colours when we walked through on Saturday, but there were enough blooms to bring plenty of smiles to old and young alike. Certainly, the plum tree was doing its darndest to make everyone forget about those pretty lil’ cherries that always seem to hog the limelight.

A crowd gathered around this grand specimen that was spreading its wings majestically and welcoming all and sundry to take shade under its gorgeous blooms. Go Plums!!

It is said that when the cherry trees are blooming, this and other favourite blossom viewing parks are packed with groups of admirers having a good ol’ fashioned party, quaffing copious amount of sake and beer, and one can hardly move among the throngs. I guess there was a sliver lining then in being a week early – Shinjuku Gyoen was not crowded on Saturday. Still, there were enough folks enjoying the fine weather…

… lounging on their mats or rope skipping.

I thought: Why should they be the only ones chilling out? I wouldn’t mind having a lie down myself, with or without (more like without, actually) mat or groundsheet. So, zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Then, *yawn*, gets up to find, hmmm, mucho mucho stuff on me back. J couldn’t stop laughing as she attempted to get rid of some of the hay. I feigned indifference, secretly cursing not bringing any sake to drown my sorrows.

Anyway, there were plenty of other flowers in the park to keep one occupied, from yellow stuff…

… to white stuff …

… to red stuff.

There’s even, can you believe it, red and white stuff from one single tree! Creepy! (In a cool way, of course.)

You might be able to tell, from my over-reliance on the word ‘stuff’, that I’m no horticulturist. So what? I bet the many folks whipping out their cameras (mainly mobile, mind you) to take pictures…

… wouldn’t be able to tell their umes from their sakuras. Or maybe they could, since they look like they could read the Japanese signs next to the trees.

There were a couple of sakura buds getting ready to burst through into the warm spring air.

Actually, it was okay to miss the cherry blossoms in their full glory. There’s always the next time. If one really needs a more immediate fix, there are lots of pictures on the Internet. Just Google it.

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