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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) with no hanas to mi

The one tree that still had some flowers
In Japan, cherry blossoms is a big thing. There are special reports on TV on how far north in the country the cherry tree blossoming line has progressed, there are things like weather reports that only do prognosis on when the trees will be in full bloom etc. When the cherry trees blossom, Japanese people do "hanami", which means "watch flowers". This means going to a place with lots of cherry trees and having a pick-nick or barbecue.

People doing hanami in Sapporo. Note the lack of hana (flowers) to mi (watch) :-)
In Sapporo, the hanami season is around May 7. This is very close to the Golden Week, a week with five (non-consecutive, though) national holidays. If you are lucky, the cherry trees will look nice at the end of Golden Week here. In the south, I am told they have hanami already in January (Okinawa), so we are very late.

Rain made people us the "blue sheets" (the Japanese words for plastic sheets, independent of color)  in new ways
People trying to be creative in rain prevention
This year, the weather was really bad, with heavy rain during Golden Week. The cherries were in full bloom earlier than usual (it has been a warm spring) but all the petals rained away.

I am not sure you are actually  supposed to barbecue these dumplings, but why not?
I went to a hanami party anyway. It started raining that day too, but it stopped again after 20 minutes of heavy rain. There was lots of food and drinks. There were also quite a lot of interesting people to meet.

Meat and alcohol are the basis for hanami
More meat
And even more meat

The thing that surprised me the most was that there was a girl there who said to me "You look much younger in your passport photo!". That I look younger in that photo, which was taken 11 years ago, is not surprising, but the fact that she has seen my passport photo is. It turns out that she is the girl who does all the bookings for our business trips, so she knows me, my Swedish colleague, our professors, etc. She deals with our part of the university. She even asked me about our British colleague who used to travel so much but recently has not asked for any tickets at all (he now lives in the U.S.). Small world.

Someone was walking around dressed as a famous character, and lots of people wanted to take pictures with him

A strange Japanese fashion statement?
Some people started drinking early, and then went to "bed" early

The flowers were still there when we left

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