What a difference just five days can make! Continuing after my last post along the Ooka River in Yokohama, I made sure to return for another walk at just the right time to catch almost the entire area in full bloom! Even though the festival itself was well-finished up at this point, I joined crowds of thousands to partake in the Japanese custom of hanami, simply known as “flower viewing”. The tradition almost always refers to Sakura viewing, however, and with it usually comes the appreciation of the transient beauty of the flowers and their relation to life itself. As such, this time of year usually invokes feelings of joy mixed with a bit of melancholy.
On this return trip with a friend, we decided to get off the local train a bit more upstream at Gumyoji Station. After a quick stroll through their own covered shopping street it was just a matter of finding the lanterns and following the path to the ocean!
From my neck of the woods back in America, cherry blossoms are no rare sight, but I was not prepared for the sheer volume of flowers sported by nearly every tree along the banks.
Families were out in droves with their lunch bento boxes and children had free reign to run and play around the river. Every few yards I would come across a photographer or two waiting for “that perfect shot” making use of the Sakura for their subjects.
Although festival time had come and gone, many vendors still happily kept their pop up storefronts open for more of those savory snacks and souvenirs (this outing, I sampled a delicious version of an omelette filled with noodles and other vegetables). The trees were often so thick they would form tunnels with the vendors against the river.
Though I don’t exactly recommend this, if you have a firm grip on your camera, sometimes you can catch some interesting angles from over the fence if a bridge isn’t around. Note: you may need long arms!
Every now and then the crowds died down to allow visitors to enjoy a peaceful walk without distraction.
Before too long, the sun made its way behind the buildings, and even though the temperature dropped, the area became even more alive. The thousands of lanterns even came on just before sunset to add yet another element to the blossoming trees.
As blue hour set in, steady hands (with the help of that a6500 stabilization!) would win the day for those last few shots.
By this time of the night, the cold coupled with satiated trigger fingers made for a good case for my friend and I to head on back to Yokosuka. I couldn’t have asked for better weather to cooperate with the good 5+ kilometer stroll along the Ooka River (okay…maybe if it was a bit warmer? 🙂 ). I could rest easy that night knowing I didn’t miss out on the season. Last year, I got to experience a bit of it, but only for a fleeting day or so. This year my own hanami was a success, through and through.
But that’s not all there is to the season! Keen eyes cannot forget that the inevitable shedding of the hundreds of thousands of petals from each tree during the after-peak time make for some amazing photographs too. My final post will take a look at a couple popular spots in Tokyo during the end of the cherry blossom season after most crowds (but not all…) disperse.
However, that’s all for this post, guys and gals. Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget to enjoy your daily dose of Japan if you ever drop by this awesome country. Sample some regional favorites like Takoyaki sometime, an Osaka favorite enjoyed nationwide of a fried octopus ball (trust me, it’s rich and savory!).