Zo Many Zakura

 

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Big thanks to David for thinking of this title while we enjoyed the zakura.

 

Last week I posted about the Karatsu Hanami on Kagamiyama. This post is all the other Sakura pictures I took during the season – and by that I mean one or two weeks.

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So pretty but so fleeting

Cherry Blossom season is very special to Japan. Sakura or cherry blossoms are the unofficial national flower, it welcomes spring, and reminds us that life is beautiful if not short. The short blooming season makes sakura a unique experience and plays well into Japan’s seasonal marketing. Japan might is king of seasonal goods. Throughout the year you find snacks of incredible taste and variety but only for the short period. Many things are sold in limited quantities as well so you have to be quick. Sakura season is no different.

 

One of the most popular places to view cherry blossoms in Karatsu is at Karatsu Castle. Whether it’s during the day or enjoying a lantern lit night viewing it provides an experience bursting with pink and a great view of the city, too.

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It’s too bad that the weather was poor this year. The fog was beautiful though. I’m glad the rain held off so we could enjoy a full bloom. Many of the streets in Karatsu are line with Sakura. You can check my sakura post from last year here.

 

Sakura in the Fog

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One of the best things about living in Japan is being able to experience Hanami 花見 or cherry blossom viewing. Newspapers print when and where the sakura will be in full bloom. It’s important to plan ahead especially if you want to travel, and many local venues with fill up quickly with viewing parties if the weather is good.

This year in Karatsu spring was quite chilly and the blooming was delayed. Full bloom or mankai 満開 lasts about a week. This year full bloom was pushed back to the first full week of April.

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This year I wanted to check out the park and observatory on top of Kagamiyama or Mt. Kagami. I had been there a few months before to finally check it out. Since this post is about Sakura and I will save it for another post. Anyways when I was there I realized that many of the trees surrounding the fields and parks were Sakura trees. Thus, I decided that this year’s Karatsu ALT Hanami would be at Kagamiyama.

This year we were plagued with cold weather and rain. Luckily the rain was light and most of the blossoms stayed on the trees for the weekend. On the Saturday of the party, the morning was free of rain and actually had a bit of sun. Excited that the weather had turned in our favor we packed up our cars and took the winding drive up the mountain. I regret not having pictures of the drive up. The sakura trees were big, beautiful and in full bloom creating a pink tunnel around the road.

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By the end of the party, we couldn’t see this bridge!

Once at the top, we parked and started to unload. Many people were still skeptical of the weather so there was plenty of space to park and find a perfect viewing spot. But we hadn’t realized that while the weather below the mountain was partially clear and sunny, on top of the mountain the fog was still hanging around.

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A stone table all to ourselves

 

I didn’t mind the fog. It made the park mysterious and oddly beautiful. We nabbed a viewing spot near a stone table with a past peak tree hanging overhead that dropped pink blossom onto our picnic. In an odd way, it was sort of perfect.

 

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Look at al those cherry blossoms falling!

 

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Remember to take your shoes off!
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Hanami commenced and the snack-age begins.

We got about 2 hours of good cherry blossom viewing, snacking, drinking (what’s hanami without alcohol?), and party games, before the fog thickened and started to rain. While it was a short hanami it was fun and special. It’s not often you get to see sakura bloom in the fog.

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A World in Pink: Sakura in Kyushu

It’s finally spring in Kyushu! I am excited to spend my first spring in Japan. I was lucky enough to snap a few pictures of the famous cherry blossoms before a rain storm washed them away.

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I was surprised to learn that there is night Hanami or night flower watching. Some of the pictures below were taken at Karatsu Castle at night. Many people were there having a nighttime picnic.

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Blooming Mondays: Valentines

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I was so excited for the warm weekend weather in Kyushu. It felt like spring! Then Monday rolled around and the weather dropped – typical. I hope everyone had a good Valentines Day/Singles Awareness Day. Here is my “after” valentines arrangement that reminds me of the coming spring.

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So this week I used: pink cherry blossom (sakura) branches, blue iris, hypericum perforatum (i.e. St. John’s Wort), pine, and a branch of yellow-orange berries.

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First Attempt

This was the first time using large sakura branches. The teacher came around and showed me how cut the first branches and where I might put them. She showed me how to make sharp angular cuts to groups of long leaves (featured on the right side of the arrangement). I still have trouble making those types of cuts.

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My biggest trouble was balancing the back of the front of the arrangement. I wasn’t sure get more weight to the back. I ended up placing another sakura branch on the side, but gave up on filling the back.

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I did get some praise from the teacher before she made her changes. 1. I had the right idea for the arrangement but it stood up too straight. 2. I placed the pine well along the bottom to block the view of the kenzan. 3. Though odd it was okay for my to place the irises closer together as it gave the sense of one big iris. 4. I made a decent cut on the leaning sakura branch.

I should have followed me gut and place the last sakura branch in the back of the arrangement.

Teacher’s Lesson

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