Spring brings us sakura blossoms, but they also spread pollens all over the country. While we were here hunting for whatever we were hunting, I noticed the air in Japan is shrouded in a haze.. About 60% of the people we saw on the streets were wearing masks. It turns out that fog was pollen, so concentrated its visible.. The ultimate formula for hay fever.
So anyways, we’re going to resume our Sakura Hunt.
Ueno Park Revisited
We were supposed to wake up and go to the park at 8am, at least. But we ended up arriving at 10am… The park is of course swarmed with visitors of all kinds trying to take a shot at those sakura…
Its kinda like a all men(women) to themselves situation, where we walk into each other’s frame and muscle our way into the best spot to take the best looking single vein on a flower petal or the stamen in the middle of a single flower… Nevertheless, minus all the noisy and nosy visitors, the place is beautiful!
I have to say I prefer day time, you can clearly see and appreciate the colours of spring. We found a spot after walking around with a box of takoyaki we bought from a stall near the pond. Everybody’s just minding their own business so they won’t bat an eyelid when you sit next to them. And so we proceeded with our little picnic.
We brought a bunch of onigiri and bread from one of those trusty 24hours convenience stores which will always have ready stock of food for us. We’ll never be hungry as long as we have them… And money, of course…
Sitting there among other people with the same objective in mind just feels right. The weather is a little warmer than usual compared to past years, that would also mean we can take off our jackets and still survive. Eating and drinking under the occasional showers of sakura petals, this is what i would call: Magical. This memory will be etched in my mind.
Imperial Palace East Garden
We cut short on our picnic and took the subway to the Imperial Palace via Otemachi station. All because we weren’t accustomed to the weather and the pollens here, it took us longer to wake up and wash up. So those delays snowballed and we’re left with very little daylight left, that’s why we are rushing before Shinjuku Gyoen closes at 4pm..
But there are just so many beautifully blossoming trees and we just can’t help ourselves but to take more photos here…
I think Imperial Palace East Garden is worth the visit even without the sakura blossoms. In fact, there were only a few trees in the garden and they were mostly far apart. But the general scenery in this manicured garden is worth your time. When its warm enough, you can just plop down onto the grass and have a picnic. Or just lie down like many locals did and enjoy the sun slowly cooking your face.
After walking through the palace gardens and having to make a detour due to all the security bag checks and manned exits, we finally are making our way to Chidorigafuchi before we go to Shinjuku Gyoen.
Then the same thing happened..
We were so captivated by the Chidorigafuchi park’s rows and rows of sakura trees that we spent too much time here…
But what can I do? This is my kind of magic, a cool breeze came and suddenly, it’s raining sakura petals. There is something poetic about all these beauty raining all around you.
It’s in fact, so beautiful that someone started worshipping these fleeting sakura flowers.
Mad Rush to Shinjuku Gyoen
We started brisk walking to the nearest station and board the next train to Shinjuku Gyoen. By this time, we are really tired.. that explains Claire’s face in the next photo…
In the end, we arrive right on the dot when it closes. So we were able to watch the park close. Bummer.
We walked to Ichiran ramen Shinjuku branch for dinner before we decided to head to Meguro River for more sakura.
We arrive at Naka-Meguro via the subway lines and it was really crowded here as well. Seems like everyone from salarymen to high school kids, its like the whole country is here along Meguro River..
We saw a lot of people queuing up trying to photograph the river and most of them were holding a drink in their hands. So we went and get ourselves a drink each.
They were 500 yen (~S$6.20) each. 125ml of sparkling wine… All for the hype.
We walked the approx. 1.4km from Naka-Meguro to Meguro.It was tiring but we still enjoyed our time here. We took lots of photos here, please refer to the pictures attached below:
Along the way there are a few stores selling food at rip off prices. Like the glasses of sparkling wine, thats 500yen each for 125ml of wine with a strawberry inside..
Took the Wrong train to… Saitama..
After walking the 1.5km to Meguro station, we were so beat we just board the train thinking its Mita line. But it was the Namboku line. We didn’t noticed it till we were in Saitama, the adjacent prefecture. Because I totally fell asleep on the train. Zzz.
By the time we finally got back to Sugamo, where we were based.. its already 10.30pm.. bummer. Well at least we got back to the hotel. Can you imagine our faces when we look at each other and I told Claire “we’re out of Tokyo?!”: Refer to the fugu fishes below..
– Simon Tey