Saturday, March 30, 2013

Yozakura Of Nakameguro


"My sleepy mind
Counting cherry blossoms
A rainy night"

Issa Kobayashi
Haiku master


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Spring in Japan is often associated with sakura. In a metropolitan like Tokyo, often described as fascinating, fast, overwhelming, etc., terms like "beautiful" or "pretty" normally remain elusive. However, like all big cities around the world, Tokyo also has its gorgeous spots. Places like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen Park are commonly known as the popular spots for sakura sight-seeing. However, I recently visited a new spot to enjoy the beautiful sakura blooms. The neighbourhood of Nakameguro during the sakura season is one of the best ones I have seen in the capital of Japan.

When I arrived there on a weekday evening, the station was a seething mass. I mean, literally a seething mass. Of bodies. Nakameguro is famous for its cherry trees that line the river. The problem is, everyone else knows it too =.=||

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The view is spectacular beyond words, and this is something you have to see at least once in your lifetime.

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Japanese people believe the Japanese cherry blossom captures and defines all that is vulnerable about being human.

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The sakura season gives us a timely reminder, once a year, that life is fleeting and time is precious.

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This is a time to take stock and evaluate what you have achieved, and what you are going to do next, on your own life path.

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In essence, the cherry blossom cycle is seen as a metaphor for life.

Nakame, as Tokyo people call it, is a quite residential neighbourhood that has become one of the trendiest places in the city to go for hanami, especially people in their 20s and 30s. What makes this spot so special is the presence of Meguro River along the main street. The riverbed is confined into a narrow canal with high concrete walls on either side. These are topped by a mettalic handrail where the creepers descends to touch the river.

There are about 800 of robust cherry trees on both sides of the canal, leaning towards Meguro River for several hundred meters, creating an amazing sight when the flowers come to full bloom. The branches from the trees on both shores cross in the air forming a natural tunnel under which the river flows. When the sakura arrives the naked branches suddenly explode with life and the cherry trees seem to bend under the weight of thousand of petals. 

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 In Japanese, cherry blossom festival translates as hanami (花見) festival.

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Just as hanabi means "flowers of fire", hanami means "flower viewing".

The air fills with petals of sakura when the wind blows and all around is white as if you were under a Siberian snowfall. This usually brings smiles and even screams of joy from the Japanese girls - "sugooooiiii!!"

The narrow pedestrian street is full of all sort of restaurants, from small izakayas (Japanese style taverns to Italian and French places. In some of them there are tables with river views. The restaurants set food stalls and tables in the street helping to create a lively atmosphere. When the sun has set and the lanterns are lit late in the evening, it is the most romantic moment of the day.

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Its moment of glory occurs during the final part of the sakura - called chirisakura - when the petals of the flowers start to fall. There is an unforgettable moment when you discover that the water of the Meguro has almost disappeared and all you can see is a carpet of white and pale pink petals that flows peacefully stream down.

The sakura season came much earlier this year than predicted. By the time I am writing this, the sakura in Nakamegura has already begun to fall. However, if you are planning for a visit there, Nakameguro offers you a second chance: following the river a few hundred meters down the street there is an area with the so-called yae-zakura, dark pink cherry blossoms that bloom a couple of weeks later than the traditional sakuras.

4 comments:

mariomflorendo said...

wow, very nice pics!

cjseow之蕭子傑 said...

NICE!!!

calvin said...

@ mariomflorendo:
Thanks Mario! I miss sakura in Chiba!

calvin said...

@ cjseow之蕭子傑:
Kam sia *hehe*