I am sitting here listening to the rain that has been falling for about 24 hours, and I am fondly thinking of the sakura
that graced the past two weekends. Such is the bipolar nature of spring weather.
, or cherry blossom viewing party, is the high point of Japanese seasonal celebration. The snowy white and occasionally pink (one of the few things I can appreciate in my nemesis of hue) petals are a wonderful excuse for doing nothing but enjoying the view, your friends, and copious amounts of alcohol.
We kind of accidentally hanami-ed two weekends ago when we strolled to our local Mitsuike Koen for a spontaneous picnic and found the place adrift in sakura at their height of beauty and thronged with viewers. The trees were indeed lovely.
Last weekend, though, was our scheduled hanami at Inokashira Koen in Kichijoji, organized by Martine. The organized hanami is no small affair. You can't just show up and expect to find the perfect spot for your little picnic blanket under the prettiest tree.
People come days before and mark out their territory with ubiquitous blue tarps, which amazingly, seem to remain unmolested by rivals. Luckily, we had Martine to stake our claim, as we had a Family Fun Day at the school to attend in the morning.
It was complete with face painting (maybe not of the usual sort when my kids are involved)
and a demonstration of Turkish dancing, performed by mostly Japanese women and maybe one Turk.
Then it was off to Inokashira Koen, to somehow find our friends among the thousands of sakura enthusiasts. Martine solved our dilemmas by telling us to look for the "Tarp Full of Trannies" just next to them.
This fascinated (and slightly confused) me until Helen, when she and Kevin arrived, explained to me that the day before had been April 4th (4/4). March 3rd (3/3) is Girls' Day and May 5 is traditionally Boys' Day (5/5). 4/4 falls between the two and is thus embraced by the homosexual and cross-dressing community. SO, apparently they had adopted the whole weekend.
The day was full of hoola-hooping (at which Martine and D surprisingly excelled)
music, eating, drinking, and A Napping Buddha.
I guess this person did not want to feel exposed while snoozing, but it seems like it would be rather suffocating. Maybe she had mastered the art of Zen breath-control and didn't need much air, I don't know.
Martine very generously allowed us Davises to crash at her place for the night, and after a slow-rolling morning of sunlit breakfast, we strolled back to the park and just kind of hung out for a bit in the sunshine.
It was a glorious day, and while the boys went off for a paddle-boat ride, Martine and I enjoyed soft cream (sakura-flavored for me, of course) and coffee, and watched the people go by. I really liked this guy, or more to the point, his cats.
He carries them around everywhere, Martine tells me, in a bag, and they don't wander off. One of the cats was really not into the sharing-the-top-of-a-post-with-its -sibling-for-the-amusement-of-passersby-with-cameras and kept jumping down, but he didn't really go anywhere. He let me pet him, which made me happy to get my kitty fix. When it was time to go, he just hopped back into the bag and off they went. When Jeff got back and I told him about the cats in the bag, he asked if the bag had a drawstring top and was weighted with rocks. Bastard.
Sunday evening, I again joined Helen and Kevin for the Psysalia Psysalis Psyche
(say that five times drunk) show in Shibuya. They were great, but the wonderful surprise for me, as well as for Kevin, was The Suzan
. They totally rocked the place. I also discovered, via the DJ and Helen's Japanese ability, a band called White Rose Movement
. How can I not have heard of them before? They are so obviously influenced by all my favorite 80s bands that I fell in love instantly and actually bought the CD on iTunes. Retrotastic.