The arrival of spring has a magical effect on the Japanese. From the time of the first sakura bloom and to the end of the hanami season, the usually reserved Japanese will head outdoors to have fun. For three weeks, the people lay out their picnic mats to busk in the warm sun at the gardens. Squeals of delight and giggles fill the air as people try to catch the falling petals caused by the breeze. At Chidorigafuchi, couples row their boats in a moat tinted pink by the soft glow of the cherry blossoms. There is plenty of alcohol, and some may have a bit too much as they camp overnight in the gardens. At a quiet corner in Shinjuku Gyoen, an elderly couple performs their annual spring dance, oblivious to the world around them.
As we sat quietly to observe the spectacle around us, a Obasan quietly approaches us. “Kōhī?”, she asked as she swiftly took out some paper cups and her jug. Soon our hands are filled with warm coffee and sweet snacks as strangers offer us a taste of the fabled Japanese hospitality. At springtime, everyone is a part of the party, and everyone is a guest.
Trip-bits: To find the best time to see the sakura in Japan, the annual cherry blossoms forecast and related festivities can be found here.