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Japan, once more

Last travel post!

My path back to Australia took me via Japan, and given the time of year, why not stay a couple of extra days and see some cherry blossoms?

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I was a little late for the Somei Yoshino variety (the main one) - most of those trees were on their last legs, but luckily the pink kanzans were just hitting full bloom!

I was staying in Ueno this time, so pretty much the first thing I did was head to Ueno Park for the cherry blossoms.

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Ueno Station. Pretty sure this one might be fake though!

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The swan boats were out in force! I wanted to ride one of the swan boats so bad, you have no idea, I was pretty close to just collaring a random single person to go on them (I believe that two people were necessary for it, presumably for safety reasons.) So that's something I still have left for next time in Japan.

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The cherry blossoms really are beautiful though. Incredibly glad I got the chance to see them in person finally, and to join the throng of photographers also grabbing photos.

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I found pretty much the best spot to sit under the cherry blossoms. Maximum Japan in one view - cherry blossoms, swan boats, Benten shrine and Tokyo Skytree!  Grabbed myself a boatload of snacks and drinks from the convenience store and just chilled her for a good two hours, it was amazing.

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This was how a small group of people reserved this seat for themselves. I must have passed some odd 'trustworthy gaijin' test, usually when I sit somewhere people leave asap instead of trusting I won't make off with their bags. They were seriously gone for at least half an hour.

The 'bags without people don't make sense' ad campaign would never gain any traction in Japan. 'Oh they're probably just getting a drink.'

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Eventually I decided I couldn't admire that view all day, so walked around Ueno Park a bit more. There was a sort of garage sale/flea market going on which was pretty cool to poke through, and then found this amazing busking duo 'Dot & Line'. I tried to take a photo to get their web address but as you can see that plan didn't really work... they were awesome though, I sat here listening for at least another hour. The only online presence I've found for them was this one youtube video another tourist took: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crsRCWwhwIE

That's kind of it for the first day! Basically spent the whole day in Ueno Park.

The next day I also dedicated wholly to searching out more cherry blossoms. I did briefly consider heading up to Nikko again, but I was still a bit jet-lagged and feeling a bit too stingy after New York to sink that kind of money into train fares. So instead I went to Showa Kinen park in Tachikawa.

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Sat here, got caught in a cherry blossom blizzard. It is as magical an experience as anime makes it out to be. The trees in full bloom are nice, but when they're dropping petals...

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This guy was doing some interesting doll photography, virtual girlfriend in the wild? His equipment wasn't quite good enough for pro photography... you'd have to have some guts to set up like that with that amount of people around though, it was a Sunday so the park was pretty crowded.

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My timing was lucky enough to catch the Flower Festival  It was amazing.

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Everywhere you turned there were more flowers.

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My wanderings eventually brought me to the bonsai school there! It was also incredibly amazing.

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Cherry blossom bonsai!

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Many of them were ridiculously old.

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They kind of made all other bonsais look so lame and half-hearted.

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Made me want to take up bonsai, even knowing that I likely wouldn't have the long term patience for it.

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This one was 300 years old I think? That's older than AUSTRALIA.

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Everything really is more awesome in spring, do recommend over the other seasons.

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Also tulips! Soooooo many tulips. And people photographing tulips.

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And rivers covered in cherry blossoms.

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Just picture spam here really. I'll shut up, just admire.

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It was a very excellent day, Showa Kinen Park was way cooler than expected! I hadn't even known about the bonsai school until I stumbled across it.

The third day I was satiated in terms of cherry blossoms so returned to old faithfuls Ikebukuro and Akihbara for food, arcade fun times, and window shopping. I got chased down by fancy hairclip ladies in the shopping districts twice. One pair actually squealed and ran after me, it was like 'female, obvious tourist with long hair OMG PERFECT MATCH TO TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC RED ALERT RED ALERT', they were very sweet but so persistent with their sales spiel, especially once they realised I could speak some japanese and they could safely leave behind their english (I was a lot more confident with it by this point, after having a good two months refresher back in the New Year period).  No photos though because it wasn't anywhere particularly new that I didn't cover in my trip earlier in the year.

I had a good chunk of the last day before I needed to go to the airport, and decided to spend it mostly around Ueno browsing the shopping distract and loitering under the cherry blossoms in the park a bit more. I had one last funny encounter though.

I was waiting at a crosswalk along Chuo-dori in the morning, having just missed the light. A seemingly average salaryman pulls up next to me, glances over, and strikes up a conversation. You know, the usual, 'where are you from? What are you doing in Japan?' sort of thing.  All in Japanese, mind, which was pretty bold considering he couldn't have known I spoke any Japanese until he tried.  Then the typical, 'how long are you in Japan for?'

And I replied, 'Today is my last day. I return to Australia tonight.'

He nodded at this, then he proceeded to ask me out on a date.

And I'm like, what the hell dude, I just said I was leaving Japan tonight.

But he just said, "Lunch!"

And I'm like, "It's 10am!"

He was undeterred. "It's okay, let's go!"

The whole thing seemed kind of weird at that point really so when the light finally changed I just blurted out a mangled pile of japanese that boiled down to 'Sorry I have to go, bye!' and skedaddled in a totally different direction.

I got hit on more in two months in Japan than I normally get in two years (the exotic effect I guess) but that one was particularly weird, probably because all the others at least tried speaking in English first. Oh well, it was an amusing encounter.

And so my big epic world journey came to an end!  Thanks for sharing it with me! :)


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2014 02:24 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's a lovely way to finish up! The flowers are amazing.
Jun. 4th, 2014 06:58 pm (UTC)
Aaaahhhh I so want to see the cherry blossom season irl. Massively jealous rn, you have no idea. *A*

But dang, so many good photos here, I can't even decide which ones are faves. I really like the ones in Ueno tho, probably bc I actually have been there and remember the swan boats and everything. x3 (Couldn't stay long enough to go on a swan boat tho, oh well. ;; )

The bonsai museum looks really cool. Though, like you, I probably do not have the patience for it. |D; Cross stitch hijacks my patience hehehehehe

omg that one salaryman dude, I should probably not be as amused as I am but I laughed hard. ^^; I probably would've just said I had a significant other regardless of if it was true at the time or not, tbh, but that's just me. uvu

It's been great to follow you on your journey! Always fun reading travel posts, tbh. :3
Jun. 4th, 2014 10:22 pm (UTC)
I know exactly how you feel because that feeling in the past is why I leapt on the chance to return via Japan this time! You'll get your chance eventually too I'm sure. :)

Ahaha the salaryman was an odd one. I don't usually pull out the boyfriend excuse though, not to mention I was limited to whatever Japanese popped into my head at the time. We didn't practice that one in Japanese class. :P

Thanks for enjoying my journey with me! It was a blast.
Jun. 5th, 2014 10:40 am (UTC)
Inokashira Park is one of my favourite sakura spots in Japan, the river and the swan boats do make a nice setting too. Plus the little shopping area around it is very awesome =D
Jun. 5th, 2014 08:11 pm (UTC)
Inokashira Park is awesome! I didn't think to go there since I'd been there in December.

Next trip is definitely either Spring or Autumn!
Jun. 13th, 2014 03:51 am (UTC)
It was really awesome following along with you on this great adventure! Thanks for being diligent about taking pictures and writing out your journey - I know I would've lost patience for it by the first week, haha. <3
Jun. 15th, 2014 10:20 am (UTC)
LOL it's as much for my benefit, it helps keep the memories fresh! Glad you enjoyed the ride though. :)
Jul. 2nd, 2014 04:03 am (UTC)
omg but did you buy a hairclip

and beautiful flowers!!! wow1!!
Jul. 2nd, 2014 05:57 am (UTC)
I did. T_T Not sure if I regret it or not! It is very pretty.
Jul. 7th, 2014 05:34 pm (UTC)
too late for regrets, right? :P
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )