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Hanami; pt 1

April 9, 2008

Now that it’s law that any Japan-based foreigner has to cover his or her corner of the internet with cherry blossom photos, I’d better get on with it before the Sakura Police turn up, hammer down my door, and cart me off to a pink cell.

The cherry blossoms have well and truly finished around here now. After a really warm and sunny weekend, the last couple of days have brought high winds and heavy rain – the traditional enemies of the sacred sakura.

But before it all disappeared down the nearest drain, we got out a couple of times and celebrated the season the way my residence visa stipulations demand.

Kumamoto castle is always a good spot for hanami. Every night for about a fortnight, the grounds are dotted here and there with groups of party-goers, getting more and more raucous as the evening progresses.

The road leading up to the castle is of course lined with cherry trees.

Cherry canopy

And all around the castle walls there were groups of friends and colleagues gathered on “blue sheets” laying out booze and grub.

Hanami under the castle wall

There were even occasional groups inside the castle grounds, even though these spots were perhaps more isolated than the wide open spaces beyond the walls.


It’s a big year for Kumamoto castle – 2008 is its 400th anniversary. They’ll be opening an entire, newly restored part of it to the public in the summer. That, I’m sure, will be special (watch this space), but sakura season comes every year.

Uto turret sakura

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