Cherry blossoms bloom all over Japan from late March to mid-April. They are the stuff of cliché here, but I must admit that they really are beautiful and the custom of Blossom Viewing (Hanami, 花見), that is, sitting and picnicking and drinking (or not) under the trees with your friends is very enjoyable. Enjoyable, that is, in the right venue, with the right people. In recent years I’ve been turned off by the loud, drunken, karaoke-blaring crowds (swarms, really) jammed under and around the trees of the largest, most famous parks and gardens. Last year, other than from the window of a train, I didn’t even bother looking at them at all. This year, though, I got the urge and acted upon it, afraid that I was growing too jaded. My friends and I chose a few smaller, non-touristy areas and had a pleasant, somewhat nostalgic week or so.
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