Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Last Hanami In Nagaoka

Hanami is considered one of the most popular event during this season. Literally, it means flowers-sightseeing and in this context, it refers to cherry blossom or simply, sakura. Crowds of people - family members, friends, groups from companies usually sit under the fully-bloom sakura and have a picnic celebration. The picnic fare usually consists of a variety of food, snacks and drinks like sake and juice. For some people, they would bring their barbecue set there, in addition to the sakura viewing. Since it is spring, it is never too hot to sit under the shade of the sakura trees during the afternoon. This event usually starts in the morning and will continue until late evening.
Enough on the basic introduction about hanami; you can always get more detailed information from other sources.
This isn't the main entrance to Yukyuzan Park, but it's the nearest entrance from our college.
This years marks the third spring that greeted me since I came to Japan more than two years ago. And just like two previous years, the international students in my college went for hanami last weekend at Yukyuzan Park, a public park located just ten-minute walk from my college. But something happened before that which I would like to mention first here. Initially, it was planned to be an event among ourselves the international students and several Japanese students. However, at the eleventh hour, we were informed that the Malaysians from Nagaoka University of Technology nearby also wanted to organise the same event at the same place on the same day.
We have no problem with that because we can always just help them claim a spot early in the morning since we are staying so close to the park. The only thing I can't understand is how they can make a decision at one in the midnight and then expect everyone to attend the event the very next morning. Besides, they said the event will start at nine; I repeat, nine in the morning.
I took the new juniors there in the morning.
The spot we reserve for the people from our college.
And after our job was done, I sunbathed under the sakura trees.
The new juniors, accompanied by one of two seniors are usually in charge of bringing the plastic sheet to the park and reserve space for the event. I planned to to there early this time and I went with four other juniors roughly at eight. The park was still empty, so we got to pick the spot of our choice. Then while waiting for the rest to arrive, we wandered around the park.
As expected, nobody from the university came when it was nine. At ten plus, the rest of us from the college who were busy preparing food in the morning arrived and we went ahead with our own hanami, ignoring whether or not the university people would come or not. By then, it was almost eleven and they told us they will arrive at nine on the previous night.
Yes, MST (Malaysian Standard Time).
By noon, the park is already packed with people.
Tents for those who are afraid of the sunlight.
Children having fun at the field in the middle of the park.
This should explain why Japan is so good in baseball.
Same thing happened last year; the junior went to reserve spot and waited there for almost two hours before the university people started to come one by one. By the time the event started, the college students got fed-up of waiting already and most of us went back early. We are doing a favour by reserving spot for them and this is what we got in return.
The juniors are not obliged to go there early in the morning to reserve their spot; we are just doing it out of courtesy. However, it seems that some people just can't be bothered by taking things for granted. They have lived in Japan longer than we juniors and it seems that they still don't understand the term "punctuality". I mean, I can still tolerate it if they are ten or twenty minutes late, but two hours?
I've seen enough of the way how they conduct events for the past two years and this year, I don't expect any improvement, which I was right. In fact, this year they went one step better. Not only they came late, because they were never there. We were later told that their hanami was called-off. Pure nonsense-lah. And apparently, they are going to do another hanami this weekend and they asked us to join them. I don't think I will have to think whether I will go or not.
Stalls are set up along the walkway.
No matter which park of Japan, the stalls are always colourful with huge banners.
Nemo and friends.
I used to have these kind of masks when I was younger.
Nonetheless, it was actually a blessing in disguise because we had so much fun having our every own hanami - just among the international students plus a few Japanese students. Besides, everyone was surprised to see two Japanese seniors who had just graduated from the college and now currently studying in Nagaoka University of Technology who joined us for hanami on that day - Ooshima, who went to Malaysia last summer on the school trip and Kira, whom I call him "kira-kira", although it sounds like "kura-kura".
"Kira-kira" in Japanese means twinkle.
This is definitely NOT how you greet your senior.
There is a mini zoo and also a castle within the proximity of this park. So far, I've been to to those places a few times. The zoo consists of monkeys, several kinds of chickens and ducks, plus rabbits and peacock. Recently, they have build new cages which I supposed to be used for birds. As for the castle, I have never been inside, so I can't really comment on it, though I guess it a museum about the history of Nagaoka.
When we were going to start the event, we realised that we didn't have even a single cup despite having several bottles of drink there. While waiting for one of us to get them from our college, the juniors were brought to the zoo and castle by their Japanese friends. As for the rest, we just relaxed under the sakura trees there and chit chat among ourselves.
The six new juniors this year, minus one junior from Gabon who couldn't make it.
It was like a olden days "lawatan sambil belajar"; they were taken to see monkeys at the zoo.
Hanami this year started with a brief self-introduction session by each of us there.
Ooshima, who among the few Japanese who can talk almost anything with the international students.
Twinkle twinkle is not bad too.
Oh, it's me.
One of the junior, Faiz when it came to his turn.
Makan time!
We then kampai-ed and everyone began to feast on the food brought there because most of us didn't take our breakfast and it was almost noon already by then. Manami, the little baby girl of Mr Haga was there with her mom too. We have seen her since she was born two years ago and she is the main attraction every time she joins our activity.
When she was still a little baby, she still couldn't recognise people and everyone can carry her. However, now that she has grown-up already, she won't allow any strangers to carry her. She will either cry loudly, or run away if we try to grab her. But if there's one thing that can get her attention, it will be electronic devices; mobile phone for instance.
Every one's eyes were pointed at Manami's direction.
Her mom even let the baby try the cucur kodok and sweet potato fritters made by the juniors.

The juniors were given the task to prepare sandwiches for everyone.
This stack of sandwiches finished within seconds it was served.
The rest of the time were spent talking among ourselves and sharing stories and jokes, including getting to know more about the new juniors, especially the non-Malaysian ones. In between, we took pictures and here are some of then many taken on that day.
Aki and Azie before they started to dance. You know I was just kidding, don't you?
From left: Salehin (Bangladesh), Aniza, Azie and me.
Sweet Mongolian couple; Sodo and his girlfriend.
If not for the two lamp post at both sides, this would have make a perfect picture.
From left: Hong Yao with his god-know's what's-that, Carine and Joann.
Juniors showing off their Japanese version of ais kacang.
Just before we started to pack our stuff and clear the place, came three people holding a stack of pamphlets and one of them wore a cardboard-made head mask while holding to a pole. Apparently, they were campaigning for the upcoming elections and he was asking us where we came from, and whether we can vote or not.
The candidate is the guy second from left. You can almost recognise him by comparing his wide smile and bright teeth to the one on the pamphlet he was holding.

And finally, one group picture before we headed back to our college.
I would say it was the best hanami I have had in three years.
But hang on a minute.
Do you notice who was the only Malaysian missing from the group picture? Yes, it was Yan Kuang, who was away to Tokyo to guide his friend around. However, while we were sitting down under the sakura trees, one of us spotted him standing in front of one of the stall just opposite from where we were sitting and all of us were shocked to see him there.
Look at the guy in green t-shirt.
Geezz, isn't that Yan Kuang?


=chuan guan= said...

oh..tat..hanami..nice event..

ruru said...

hahaha!yan kuang tu aku yg perasan dulu!:D

Anonymous said...

nice shot,calvin.

thankx for sharing.

jyuken ganbatte!

-wanna come to ipij?

Kae Vin said...

nice pictures and I guess u had a nice time, apart from those uni guys.

and u haven't revealed what is under the table in the last post =_=

Kae Vin said...

nice pictures and I guess u had a nice time, apart from those uni guys.

and u haven't revealed what is under the table in the last post =_=

calvin said...

@ =chuan guan=:
yea, everyone had fun on that day. too bad this is going to be the last time i get to go for hanami with the juniors.

calvin said...

@ ♥i'm ulya♥:
yup, and everyone kept pointing at that green-shirt guy lol xD

calvin said...

@ warkahraudhah:
thanks, but some pictures were stolen without permission from other cameras =P

all the best for your jyuken too =)

i assume that invitation is for the golden week gathering at kanazawa. thanks, but i don't think i will have any golden week break this year =\

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
yup, we all had fun and what happened involving the uni guys failed to spoil our mood =)

to be honest, i don't even know what were we looking at underneath the table. i guess it was just a random shot. perhaps the guy in brown jacket was adjusting the cushion underneath his butt =P

mafiqam said...

no no. that's not yan kuang. the hairstyle is different. :P

calvin said...

@ mafiqam:
yup, because this guy has a hairstyle that looks more like a sponge cake lol xD

Innocent^^Guy said...

u sure now u dun have the mask? u're still a kid!

calvin said...

@ innocent^^guy:
i think i still have my ultraman mask with me at home, although it's torn already xD

Mus Kamal said...

great, guys. i am so proud of you all. so much have changed since I've graduated and i assure you that you way better than us. Keep up the good work and send my regards to Sorimachi sensei and Okada sensei...hope they're still around(working). Rgds Mustaffa Kamal

calvin said...

@ mus kamal:
wow, i never expect to have a senior so long time ago to read my blog. just wondering, how did you find my blog? hehe xD

yes, i am quite sure that there is a huge difference since you left the college. on the two sensei, i'm afraid i have never heard of their names. perhaps they have retired ;)

and thanks for your comments =)

Kamal said...

just google nagaoka kosen and ur blog will appear. again great job, its just too bad that we didnt have blogging during our time, or else theres a lot of stuff to look at to remind our younger days in nagaoka. u'll know what i mean 20 years from now.

calvin said...

@ kamal:
haha, i just tried googling for nagaoka kosen and now i just realised that it appears on the first page xD

i think it was a right decision to start blogging just before i came to japan. when i look through the past entries now, it gives me a special kind of great feeling which i'm sure will still stay the same not only 20 years, but 50 years from now =)