Cherry Blossoms in Japan

We visited Japan at the best time of the year. During hanami season (花見, lit: flower viewing), most parks with cherry trees are in a festive mood.

Unfortunately, due to our busy schedule, there was no time to sit under the trees with food and drink.

Takatoyama Park in Wakamatsu-ku

Cherry blossoms in a small village near Beppu

Cherry Blossoms in Hita

The pink lanterns always add a nice touch to this scenery. At  times, the wind shook the branches and we saw blossoms dancing in the sunshine.

Hanami season in Japan

We still have some funny pictures of our baby son, an excessive drooler at that time, at a hanami picnic, with cherry petals sticking to his face and neck. His drooling had also earned him the nickname よだれくん (yodarekun).

Nihon – tadaima: 第 2 日

April 8, 2008

Former neighbors, Takatoyama, Karaoke, and Sukiyaki

In the morning my son, my brother, and I decided to take a walk around our former neighborhood of Furumae. Our hostess, Misa’s mother, lives in walking distance to all the significant vendors where I wanted to stop and say hi. We left her home and closed the gate behind us.

We did not get very far before we saw our first friend Itaisan peeking out from the shokudou (small eatery), where I usually had stopped for lunch. Six years ago she had taken over this little eatery from the previous owners. What a surprise to see her running it now!! She had always been a good cook which I know from the many breakfast invitations into her home….

Walking up the hill we stopped at Junkosan, the yasaiyasan (green grocer), who remembered us immediately as well. We talked and talked and everyone commented how big our fourteen-year-old, made-in-Japan son Thomas had gotten by saying okikunatta, neh. It had been thirteen years since Thomas left as a baby at the age of one and a half.

We were given cans of hot coffee as presents and continued our way up the hill to get to mount Takatoyama. On the way we ran into Toshimasan, our former buddy from the nomiya (drinking place). He told me he was 82 years old and he still looked the same as ever. Of course, he had to tell my brother Isshoni yoku nonda (Together we drank a lot!) but at least he remembered it. There were times back then I would actually bother to take a detour around the nomiya so I would not get dragged into the shop. The locals always saw me passing by and waved me in.

Then we made it up to Takatoyama, the official home of Kappa .

Kappa shrine

Kappa shrine

Beautiful cherry trees were everywhere in full bloom. From the top of the hill one has a magnificent view over Dokai Bay, Wakato Bridge, the wards on the other side of the bay, as well as the smoking chimneys from Nippon Steel.


View overlooking Dokai Bay

Waka-To Hashi

Wakato hashi in the morning haze

Cherry trees

To the left, behind the pole, used to be our apartment building, now torn down.

In the afternoon we were taken to a Karaoke place where we rented a private room for one hour and produced in our untrained voices some really rotten sounds. But we had fun!


In the evening our hostess, Mrs. Fukuda, prepared a delicious meal of Sukiyaki. More family members were invited as well for this special reunion.

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