Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Time To Sneeze

I've decided that one of the Japanese things to approach with dread and complain about til it's over is allergies.  I've avoided saying the "a" word over the last few years, even as I began to suspect (contrary to longstanding personal beliefs) that I might actually have a couple.  It's possible someone maybe should have thought about this BEFORE planting five bazillion cherry trees here.

A year ago with Five we were a little too early for sakura-mania.  This year, on the other hand, they were early and I more or less missed them while I was in Mongolia (not that this has prevented me from going through an entire roll of TP in 24 hours, finally forcing me to resort to buying actual kleenex).  Although I've come to the conclusion that I like plum blossoms way better, not writing about sakura season in a blog about Japan seems like a cardinal sin.  So here ya go.

First of all, sakura treats.  I'm not entirely sure if it's right to say that cherry blossoms have a flavor, but everything seems to be sakura flavored, so they must.  This year I had the opportunity to try sakura Cinnabon, sakura frappuccino, and a few different kinds of mochi treats, including the Haagen-Dazs sakura mochi ice cream thing.  My verdict: fun, but overrated.  It's always interesting to try special flavors, especially when they're pink, but they weren't the most amazingly delicious treats I'd ever had.

Although the craziest part of sakura season happened while I was chillin' in UB with my homies, the Yamatane Museum helped to make up for it by having a special sakura exhibition.  I got to take part in something similar when I went to the National Museum four years ago, but this time there were no prize buttons...just lots of really interesting nihonga.  Even more than the flower pictures, though, I enjoyed seeing the changing style of the paintings.  There were several pictures that made me think, "This is different," and when I looked at the label, I realized it was from 1940, or the 80's.  Skills of an artist, yo.

Finally, I visited Araiyakushi Park on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to feel like I'd enjoyed the spirit of spring.  (Mostly because I was going all the way to Koenji and figured what the hell, why not?)  They had a festival listed on Savvy Tokyo with performances including taiko, and since I haven't seen any taiko in a while, I figured it would make up for the fact that most of the flowers would be gone.  I did find one tree in bloom - the double blossoms apparently bloom a little later - and ate some festival food, but after working on a painting for five hours that morning, my head wasn't really in the right place.  Also, drunk people at picnics aren't nearly as interesting when they're not your drunk people, so I didn't stay very long.

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