Less nose-gazing (hana-mi), more flower-gaping (hanami)

Today was a beautiful one, with a high of 20 degrees Celsius. Walking along the street, I saw a parent and child coming up the opposite way. The child was blowing big, fat bubbles into the air, and the wind kept sweeping them back the way the child had come. Unfortunate for the child, but I got to enjoy the fruit of their labors–walking surrounded by bubbles that caught the afternoon light, reflecting the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Continue reading “Less nose-gazing (hana-mi), more flower-gaping (hanami)”

Flower Hunting, Start! Looking ahead to Cherry Blossoms

You might be asking yourself a few questions today. Things like, “Did I leave the gas on?” “How is it already February?” And, most pertinently, “Why is Stefanie talking about cherry blossom viewing when we’re still so far away from it?”

Originally, I was going to make a post about ume (plum) blossoms, as we’re in the right season for them. Ume blossoms, often overlooked in favor of cherry blossoms, have a lovely smell and help guide you through the last of winter into spring.

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is all of my pictures of ume are terrible, and thus far in Kyoto there is one (1) tree that is blooming in Gosho. And that tree is surrounded by people with camera lenses three times the size of my head.

So, let’s talk about cherry blossoms today!

Continue reading “Flower Hunting, Start! Looking ahead to Cherry Blossoms”

Obligatory Hanami Post

First of all, it’s no longer March- thank goodness! The worst of the goodbyes are over with and that means I get to relax and focus on happier things like the warmer weather.


As someone who grew up near DC, I am very used to going to see cherry blossoms in spring. Living in Japan just makes it that much easier because they are everywhere. Go to a nearby school or a river and you’re bound to spot a few. Go hiking and you’ll be surrounded by them.


And people.

But hey, that’s the joy of doing anything in nice weather, especially in Japan.

Hanami ( 花見) is a practice in Japan where you go out, find some cherry blossoms, plunk yourself under them with some friends or family members, and enjoy yourselves. Many people bring drinks and food along–some even have little barbecues! In some places you have to be very early to get a spot, which is often claimed by a tarp or leisure mat of some sort.

Me, I don’t like fighting over spaces so I just find a place where there are a bunch of them and walk. Along the river is my favorite choice, but going into the mountains is a close favorite. If I’m pressed for time, I at least make sure to visit a shrine and walk around there for a bit.


Whatever you do, watch out for large parties of Hanami goers. If you’re not on your guard you might be pulled onto a tarp and offered a drink by people you’ve never met before. Especially if you know ANY of the language! (Note: this is also true for summer barbecues and other get-togethers).

More importantly, whatever you do, be sure to take advantage of the season…

Not only for the view, but also for… THE SEASONAL EDIBLES!

More on that later.