Some of you may remember we are lucky enough to have a son who has settled in Japan with his wife and two wonderful daughters. This means we visit the country at least once a year and when possible we go in the spring. At this time of the year the weather is just perfect and if we are lucky the cherry blossom is out.
This year the blossom came out just a couple of days before we came home. We spent a day in the beautiful gardens at Korakuen, close to where my son lives in Okayama.
As soon as the blossom opens everyone starts partying. As we walked along the small canal in Okayama we passed groups of people having picnic lunches and drinking beer. They have to make the most of it because the blossom doesn’t last much more than a week. The act of watching and enjoying the cherry blossom has its own word in Japan – it is known at Hanami.
Korakuen gardens are next to Okayama castle which provides a wonderful focal point for the gardens.
The gardens were built in 1687 for the enjoyment of the ruling family and as a place to receive important guests. In 1844, just after the end of the feudal system, Korakuen was taken over by Okayama Prefecture and was opened to the public. It is certainly well used. There are open spaces where the children can run and play, and lots of paths where you can explore quite diverse scenery: a carp lake, bamboo woods, tea plantations, rice fields and of course the cherry orchards. Whatever the time of year, the gardens are always beautiful.
As we were visiting in the middle of the week, we though the gardens would be quiet – not so. There were still plenty of people having picnics and taking photos of the beautiful cherry blossom. Along the nearby river, the tents and food stalls were all out getting ready for large evening parties.
Nearly all cherry trees in Okayama are the same type, Somei Yoshino. They are so beautiful because the prolific blossom appears on bare branches, and of course it looks even better against a clear blue sky.
Many of the trees in the orchard are very old, but still revered; they are treated with respect, given props to hold them up and kept warm in winter. What more could anything, advancing in years, wish for.
We too sat under the cherry trees and looked up at the blossom. We noticed that quite a lot of blossom was already falling. That was strange as it had only just come out. Then we noticed a couple of sparrows were just picking off the flowers and dropping them to the ground! They must have been finding something tasty to eat at the base of the flower.
We took the opportunity to photograph our beautiful grandchildren.
And of course this comes with special accessories.
Shoes and socks (the socks are specially designed to wear with this style of shoe – how clever is that),
We had had a lovely day.