The cherry blossoms are back, marking the beginning of spring and the end of my beloved winter. In spring, bugs come back alive and the sun starts to sprout its awful heat again… At least I can start working on a tan again, but that’s considered ugly in Japan
anyway, so what’s the point really? Unlike me, most people love the arrival of spring and go out en masse to celebrate and admire the cherry blossoms. Some students organized such a cherry blossom viewing party (a.k.a. Ohanami) in Bampaku Park today, and even though I don’t like the weather I do like parties with my students.
Bampaku park is famous for a peculiar 70 meter high tower created by Taro Okamoto, for the 1970 Expo in Osaka. Apparently, after completion a Japanese writer associated the tower, whose tip was projecting out of the building it was housed in at the time, with an erect penis breaking through a sliding paper door, which he read about in a Japanese novel. The name of the novel was The Season of the Sun, which prompted Taro Okamoto to name his tower The Tower of the Sun, how beautifully meaningful. The building housing the tower was removed in 1979, but the tower remains. The tower is more creepy than beautiful, but in anyway you regard it it’s impressive, either as a meaningful piece of art or simply for being that huge and scary, I mean it does have three faces and none of them looks friendly. To me it feels kind of out of place in such a nice park but the Japanese really love it.
We found ourselves a nice spot under the cherry blossom trees, laid out a huge blue plastic sheet, took our shoes off (after all this is Japan) and sat down to be amazed by all the beautiful food our students brought with them. We were told it was kind of like a potluck-party so Yasu and I brought a fruit platter and a bunch of chocolate croissants, but we kind of felt ashamed by our simple and non-creative purchase, when we realized the amount of time and effort must have gone into making those bento boxes the students prepared. They were so beautiful to look at and of course it tasted great too, but our food was eaten too, so I guess it wasn’t that bad.
There was so much food and so many great drinks, like sparkling sake and homemade umeshu, even though it was a bit early to start drinking hard liquor at noon, but they kept telling me that at ohanami people are allowed to make an exception. Ohamani is very popular in Japan and naturally the park was crawling with other people doing exactly the same thing we were doing: sitting under a bunch of cherry blossom trees, eating too much delicious food and drinking in the early afternoon. But there was a wonderfully happy atmosphere in the park, and it might have been less fun without those thousands of strangers there.
Ohanami was a lot of fun and our students were very well prepared, they even brought ice to go with the drinks. Enzo also brought a frisbee along which provided us with many hours of active fun to sober up and to work off those extra calories. We stayed in the park until it was dark, until we couldn’t see the frisbee flying through the air anymore and when there were colored lamps lighting up the cherry blossoms trees for the nighttime viewers. Lots of awesome (group) pictures were taken during the day, but unfortunately I won’t be able to showcase most of them because of company rules, so if you want to see pictures of us enjoying the cherry blossoms and party, become my Flickr friend to be able to see all the pictures.