Month: March 2008

Cherry blossom madness

This weekend was peak cherry blossom viewing. Here’s a snap from Shinjuku Park, where there must have been a million revelers on Saturday.Hanami at Shinjuku Park

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Haru: Show opened on Friday

Friday was the opening day for Shu and his parents’ small gallery show. Claire came with her kids Morrison and Elie, as did our unconventional monk friend Hiromi. Others included his parents’ ceramics students, my mother-in-law’s tea ceremony teacher, a new customer, and good friend Mayuko with her husband Kota and adorable 3 month old Yujin (named after rock and roll pioneer Eugene Vincent). I was surprised and thrilled to see my good friend Takahiro, whom I met years ago in Beijing. He’s now launching his own contemporary Asian art organization Far East Contemporaries. Shu and his parents’ show lasts for ten days, so please come by if you are in Tokyo!

Claire, Morrison, Eli, Hiromi & SHu

Two views of cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms (さくら)are reaching peak season in Tokyo, and Japanese are crazy about viewing them (はなみ). I love how the seasonal spirit ranges from gorgeous, well-pruned specimens to cheap, plastic decorations in some of the less sightly parts of Nakano.

In front of the Imperial Palace (こうきょ):

Sakura in front of National Theater, and across from Imperial Palace

Besides the power lines near Nakano Broadway:

Nakano sakura

Sakura season

Sakura at the Broadway arcade in Nakano

We are lucky to arrive at the start of cherry blossom season, called “sakura.” Beautifully pruned trees across the city explode in blush pink petals, inspiring teens, families, co-workers, and seniors to picnic below them, and to get very drunk.

Near the Nakano train station, there are big pink lanterns. And in the main shopping arcade called Broadway, there’s this gorgeous seasonal display in the photo. The arcade was constructed in the 1970s, and it is preserved completely intact. This is common for this area, which has not seen the redevelopment that has transformed other parts of Tokyo into more of a futuristic environment.

Arrived on Easter Sunday

Pansies growing in small sidewalk crack

Shu and I arrived in Tokyo on Easter Sunday after a cramped flight. I slept 15 hours after Makoto gave us the keys to our tiny flat in Nakano. This blog will chronicle our two month stay this spring in the neighborhood near Shinjuku and Narita Higashi, where Shu’s parents live and operate a ceramics studio.

Our trip was timed to allow Shu time to set up a small gallery show with his parents this Friday. It combines his drawings with his parents’ ceramic work in a broad theme of “Haru” or spring. Unfortunately, our trip required me to miss my favorite Xtian holiday including bunnies, pastels, chocolates, and Dolores Park’s annual Hunky Jesus contest.

In addition to the art show, Shu will be working on his next two novels– one set in his childhood neighborhood that includes Nakano, the other at Penn State where he used to teach Comparative Literature. My plans are to continue my human technology consulting, improve my Japanese language abilities, and learn more about shared urban spaces in Tokyo.

The first night I heard crows outside our flat. So familiar from our bedroom in San Francisco.