3, 2, 1 It’s Hanami!

I really do enjoy both my home and  host institution; therefore, for all the ISEP, University of Tennessee – Chattanooga, and Chukyo students out there who want to know more about my experiences, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.

Tsurumai Park during hanami!All credits go to its owner. shop.plaza.rakuten.co.jp

When someone mentions sakura trees in Japan, what is the image in your head? For me, I see hundreds of sakura trees blooming everywhere in the city and by everywhere I mean anywhere with a single sakura tree in its inhabitance. Not complaining since who doesn’t like walking to school with mass quantities of pink flower petals sticking to your shoes.

See, how could you not get some of the petals stuck to your shoes?
See, how could you not get some of the petals stuck to your shoes?

Okay, so maybe that sounded like a complaint, but other than the regular mishaps of wet petals on the bottom of my shoes, the sakura trees in full bloom is a sight worth viewing! In my area there are trees lined up along the road. Growing right next to my apartment is a sakura tree which fills the park nearby with pretty petals for the enjoyment of nature viewing.20150331_183652The cleanup of wet petals must be one rough job after a rainy night. I wish I had my camera on hand capturing moments such as these, but honestly you really should experience this sight for yourself. A picture may say a thousand words, but an first hand experience is even better. In my last update I talked shortly about hanami (花見ーはなみ) which could last up to 2 weeks depending on where you live.

What exactly is a hanami? Well, the word hana in Japanese means, flower and the word mi means to look or see. If you put the two together you will get flower seeing. So guess what hanami is all about. People all across Japan and the parts of the world look forward to the spring time just for this special event. Some areas will have longer hanami viewing thanks to its climate while places such as Hokkaido will not see the full blossoming until the middle of spring. Hanami2Luckily for me, Nagoya’s climate goes along with spring being the season for full flower blossoms. However, once the cherry blossoms begin falling you have but a few days before this beautiful sight disappears for another year.

While it is fun to just sit and watch the cherry blossoms fall, it is even funner when you are in a park surrounded by friends and strangers. Hanami1Well, maybe this scene is not for everyone, but for some of the Chukyo students this is how we spent our day watching the hanami. Here are a few tips for you if you visit during hanami season (March 20 – April 3).

A park will be your best choice for the viewing; however, if mass quantities of people is not your thing, then I suggest finding a quiet park near the riverside. For parks with a festival feel, I suggest heading over to Tsurumai Park(鶴舞公園). Once you have found your spot, grab a tarp and claim your territory, I mean, a location to which you will lay down and enjoy some relaxation time with your friends.  For a quiet riverside, take the red Sakura Dori line on the subway towards Mizuho Kuyakusho Station(瑞穂区役所駅).

Here is the riverside a few minutes down the road from the Mizuho Kuyakusho exit.
Here is the riverside a few minutes down the road from the Mizuho Kuyakusho exit.

Take the exit going towards the sports stadium and walk from the station along the nearby riverside trail for a peaceful hanami viewing. If you go at the perfect time, usually the first few days of the viewing, you can get a glimpse of a sakura petal river. Also, around 5PM – 7PM the officials will turn on the lights along the walkway for a nicely lit walk.

The lit walkway along the riverside near Mizuho Kuyakusho station.
The lit walkway along the riverside near Mizuho Kuyakusho station.

Many people buy food from the convenience store, but if you are an amazing chef go ahead and cook up one of your special dishes for the occasion. People will spend hours laying in the fields of the park just for the viewing of hanami; perhaps over time the concept has changed, but from what I have gathered this is a chance for friends to get together and have fun before school resumes.

Friends all gathered at hanami.
Friends all gathered at hanami.
Taken by my new instamax which costs a mere 300 yen!
Taken by my new instamax which costs a mere 300 yen!

As I state previously, hanami is a time to get together with friends and family before the new school year starts. Therefore, what better way to end a hanami viewing than having dinner with friends and a friend’s dad who happens to be an excellent chef.

Yuka and Tamami swinging in front of the beautiful trees behind them.
Yuka and Tamami swinging in front of the beautiful trees behind them.

Studying abroad in Japan has not only introduced me to Japanese culture, but also the culture of other exchange students. For example, on this night I was able to enjoy my first authentic taste of Italian cuisine. Folks, let us face it, places such as Olive Garden or Maggiano’s Little Italy is nothing compared to simple Italian dishes made in its original form. Below are the three dishes we were served starting from top to bottom: carpaccio, caprese salad, and the last one was not a Italian dish, however, it was still delicious!

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Small salad on the bottom with thinly sliced salmon topped with a homemade citrus vinaigrette.
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Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil.
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Doritos, cheese, hamburger meat, and olives.

Well, that is it for my updates of today. Hope the food pictures had you all drooling!  Until next time everyone ~

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