A Very Belated Cherry Blossom Post

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These were taken months ago now, and it feels like it, with summer fast (too fast) approaching. We arrived back in Japan in mid-March, sakura already halfway to full bloom. Our last trip to the UK was in 2011, just after the earthquake, and we got back home just too late for the blossoms, so it was extra sweet to be in time this year.

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The toddler seemed to really enjoy sakura season this year, pointing out “more cherry blossom” all over the city, and picking up stray blossoms to give to me and the husband. She got into the hanami spirit too, and actually sat still long enough to have a picnic of sandwiches and sekihan (and beer for me) under a cherry tree in a local park. There was still a lot of taking turns to chase her as she ran around, of course.

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Last year’s pictures, here.

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Nagasaki

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Trams = very exciting indeed

We spent a few days in Nagasaki city over the Golden Week break. It’s been at the top of my must-visit list for a while, and I’m so glad we made it; I fell a little bit in love with the place.

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The day we arrived, it rained and rained. Cheap umbrellas providing totally inadequate coverage, we headed out to the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, a lovely building housing a small collection, including some of Shomei Tomatsu’s beautiful photographs of atomic bomb survivors.

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Clock stopped at 11:02 on August 9th, 1945

The following day, I visited the Atomic Bomb Museum by myself while the toddler and husband explored the nearby Peace Park. I don’t really know what to write about it, other than it was incredibly sad, and that if you get the chance, you should go.

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Paper Cranes at the Atomic Bomb Museum

Nagasaki was a big success with the toddler, too. As if the excitement of sleeping in a hotel wasn’t enough (it totally was), we found a fantastic Bornelund ‘Kid o Kid’ play centre in a department store, and took a trip to the Penguin Aquarium on the outskirts of the city. The views from the bus on the way to the aquarium were stunning, as were those on the train journey to Nagasaki.

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Koinobori outside the Penguin Aquarium

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129: Picnic Spot

Stick horses + hollow trees + feeding the fish + gelato for two = a mighty fine day.

18/03 – 22/03 (Home)

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77: Sakura (many – too many – more to come)

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78: Not-Sakura (but just as Springlike)

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79: Rainy Day = a chance to try out the toddler’s new umbrella

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80: Alleyway. Down by the Port.

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81: Cherry Blossom in Forest Park

Coming home from a trip ‘home’ is always bittersweet. We had the best, best time but it is very, very good to be back here again, and coming back to sakura in bloom makes it that bit sweeter.

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Thirty-four: Setsubun

We went to the local Shrine for their Setsubun (the holiday marking the end of winter/beginning of spring) festival. The main event was the mamemaki, bean throwing, but there was also hot amazake and a kendo display. The last time we went to a similar event was four years ago in Tokyo, on a cold, snowy, decidedly un-springlike day. This year, though, it was warm enough to believe that winter really was ending.

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Thirty: Plum

Plum blossom is one of my very favourite things, and if the Spring-like weather of the last few days continue (no coat/gloves/hat! No freezing in the park while the toddler plays!) it won’t be long until this tree  fully blooms.