This post has been a long time coming – more than a month, in fact. The first weekend of November, when snow was merely a worry for the distant future, a few friends and I made the trek out to Hirosaki to pick apples. Growing up in the northeastern part of the United States, I’d always had a few apple orchards within close proximity, but somehow, picking apples was never part of my life.
Autumn’s by far my favorite season, and Japan’s version is one of the most beautiful I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. It may be short and fleeting, but autumn in northern Japan still provides you with enough signs to let you know it’s arrived in all of its full-blown, scarlet-leaved glory.
Though this is nearly a month late, I’m finally posting about what I got up to during Golden Week during early May. Golden Week is a nifty little period that encompasses the last weekend in April and the first in May; there’s a three-day weekend, followed by a three-day week, followed by a four-day weekend, which means that if you play your cards right, you can take off three days of work and actually get ten days in a row off. My GW this year wasn’t all that exciting compared to last year, when I went to Hong Kong. But there was relaxing time in spades, which was exactly what I needed to gear up for the dizzying carousel that was the last three weeks of May.
The blooming of cherry blossoms is probably one event that’s looked forward to across all of Japan. And for good reason – it’s a sign that spring has legitimately arrived. A recent survey found that citizens in Aomori, the prefecture where I live, take the most pride in their cherry blossoms (After all, Aomori’s home to Hirosaki Castle, which is ranked as the top 桜 spot in Japan.) and spend the most time participating in 花見 (hanami, cherry blossom viewing). As one fellow ALT observed, that’s because our winters are so long and harsh. For people in the southern areas, like Okinawa or even Tokyo, new flowers aren’t anything to write home about. For Aomorians, though, any sign of life after five months of winter’s hellish mix of snow and wind is enough to celebrate. Continue reading A River of Cherry Blossoms
After several false starts caused by dreary rain and general laziness, I finally made it out to Hirosaki last weekend to catch the tail end of the annual Chrysanthemum Festival (菊 まつり) at the castle park. I don’t make it to Hirosaki nearly as often as I’d like to, as it’s about forty-five minutes away by train, so I was happy to have an excuse to trek down.