Sunday, March 31, 2013

The first blooms...

We, Michele and I, are back in Japan. I have lobbed myself into the reward journey for (nephew) Nick and Anne-Marie is on her way to a conference in Tokyo and has joined us for parts of our ten day sojourn.
It is spring and the cherry blossom has arrived early in Tokyo due to warm March weather- where was that warm weather for NYC?!

We are staying in Ueno so started out the day with breakfast in a little coffee shop and then a walk through Ueno Park and the Hanami- Cherry Blossom festival.

A beginners guide to Cherry Blossom gives some advice .....

Hanami literally means "flower viewing", however, it commonly refers only to cherry blossom viewing. Cherry blossom viewing is easy: Simply enjoy the intensity of the many blossoms by looking at a single tree or a group of trees. From a distance, the trees appear as beautiful clouds, while the beauty of single blossoms can be enjoyed from a close distance.
Cherry blossoms are also especially beautiful in combination with a castle, temple or shrine. In some places the blossoms are lit up in the evening, which makes an amazing sight.

We visited Meiji Shrine later in the day and managed to see not only the lovely shrine and park but two traditional weddings 

And some not so traditional photographers.

After visiting Ueno park we went to the Shitamachi Museum- a lovely small museum
This museum was established to teach future generations about the culture of the shitamachi. The shitamachi was originally an area of Edo* where the common people lived. The word shitamachi is composed of the word shita meaning “down” and machi meaning “town,” and one can often see it translated into English literally as “downtown.” However, shitamachi is not the same as the English word downtown, which refers to a city's central businessdistrict. The shitamachi name originated from the actual level of the land in the area. In Edo, the land to the south-east of Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace) was lowlands, and the land to the north-west was a plateau, and during the formative years of the city, the lowlands became the place where artisans and merchants lived. This lowlands area near Edo Castle became known as shitamachi.

We strolled around feeling cold much of the day and live in hope that the weather will warm up!

At Yoyogi Park we had hoped to spot some Cosplay people but only managed a couple of snaps of a few in different dress.
Cosplay short for "costume play", is a type of performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea from a work of fiction. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play.

I guess one needs to have a greater knowledge of anime and manga to recognize the costumes- I'm not sure if these two photos show just some young people weirdly dressed or whether they can be found in anime or manga pages.
We did see a couple of young women in the distance in the park dancing around to their own private tune but I don't think they completely qualified for this category on Japanese culture.

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