Watching the flowers in the park

“Spring is here,” sang Tom Lehrer, “Ah-sa-pah-ring is here, life is skittles and life is beer.” And though there are usually few pigeons around, the monstrously huge black crows that live in Tokyo’s parks and caw loud guffaws, don’t kindly take to spoliation of any kind, being, as they are, equipped with such strength and cunning as to occasionally attack humans encroaching on their territory. It’s undeniable now; in the last week the weather has settled somewhat and we are blessed with glorious, warm sunshine and a definite fresh air that promises to deliver a hot and humid summer.

And over the last few days the small green buds on many cherry blossom trees across Tokyo have exploded and bloomed into tiny flowers so pink and white that when they catch direct sunlight they form a spectacle as if a thousand pure-white holes have been punctured through reality. The road across my own local station is lined on both sides with these sakura every few meters which form an almost complete arch over the street. In the evenings the streetlamps hidden within their canopies recreate in small pockets what the sunlight has done in the daytime. In a week orso these petals will lose their grip and stat snowing down on the pavements below causing a springtime snowfall that temporarily covers the gray Tokyo cityscape with pink netting.

It’s the season for hanami, “flower-watching”, not to be confused with hanabi “fire flower”, the yearly summer fireworks spectacles. For hanami people meet up with friends and colleagues, spread blue tarpaulin over jealously guarded square areas in the local park and picnic with drunk abandon. The view, on one’s back, is the pink-white spread of the flowers, but dip your eyes below the horizon and you’re confronted with an explosion of rubbish, people, queues for the public toilet and food. These are great, if somewhat hectic, events and though ostensibly an outing to appreciate the short-lived sakura blooms, it is more often a great excuse to throw caution to the wind and imbibe vast amounts of alcohol. I, for one, love it.

Working days become more Hellish as every cigarette break in the sun reminds you of beer gardens, lazy weekends and general sunny relaxation before you’re forced into the dark, hot working environment again. The mind swims unsteadily as you try desperately to focus on your work. This week is our company’s hanami, for which I gladly signed myself up; it’s a reason to come to work later than usual and leave early, chewing the fat with increasingly drunk and hilarious colleagues. It’s strange how springtime can make one more tolerant of other people. It’s just not worth getting into a fix when all you want to do is kick back and have a beer. That isn’t to say this time of year is without train incidents, but generally I just can’t be bothered. And working in a game company I have of course the luxury of freedom of fashion; I can mix easily in busy trains wearing short sleeves and, had the colour of my legs allowed it, short trousers while all around me salarymen are wiping sweat off their foreheads, wearing suits, jackets and ties as they must.

I must drink in this seasonal positivism before the summer comes. Though in my years here I have acclimatized somewhat, the humidity is still not something I look forward to. For now it’s cherry blossom season which doesn’t last long, and at work things are keeping me busy again, which is good. These are the small highs in my life, and I do appreciate them. I’m not all doom and gloom, you know. At least, not perennially, anyway.

19 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. So there is hope for the land of the rising sun, after all. :)

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  5. Nicely written. It sounds beautiful. Spring fever is hitting in the states as well. Flowers are blooming and all I want to do is exactly opposite of what I'm supposed to be doing.

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  6. Thank the heavens that someone else appreciates that song. Doubtful Mr. Lehrer had much experience with sakura, though.

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