Hanami at Chidorigafuchi – Cherry Blossom Season

Security guard directing traffic during cherry blossom season

It’s that time of the year again when the sakura (cherry blossoms) bloom and everyone gets drunk in the park. I’m not particularly into the drinking part since it’s still too cold outside, but I do like to go out and see the flowers.

Cherry blossoms at Chidorigafuchi

I usually go to Sumida Park (隅田公園 – Sumida Kouen) to see the sakura in Asakusa, where I used to live. Last year I went to Rikugien (六義園) for a change. It’s considered one of Tokyo’s most beautiful landscape gardens.

This season I decided to check out Chidorigafuchi (千鳥ヶ淵), recommended by some of my clients who say it’s the best place to go on hanami (花見 – cherry blossom viewing) in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so impressed. It was probably the weather, though. When I went last Friday, it was a very cloudy, dark and gloomy day. I had to boost the saturation on my pictures to give them more color.

Shinagawa Yajiro with the cherry blossoms
Statue of Yajiro Shinagawa. I don’t know who he is.

Chidorigafuchi is the name of a moat that is part of the Imperial Palace grounds. Sakura are planted along the walkways surrounding the moat. You can also rent a rowboat and cruise around the moat. A palace, trees and flowers, boats… it all sounds picturesque, except a highway runs beside all this, which sort of ruins the atmosphere in my opinion.

Boats at Chidorigafuchi in cherry blossom season

Funny story. A section of the route has a long stretch of road with no crosswalks except at opposite ends of the road, and there were a lot of tourists who were jaywalking to cross. An angry police officer posted within the walls of the Imperial Palace kept barking on the loudspeakers telling them not to cross the road, but he did so in Japanese, so obviously none of the tourists understood what he was trying to say. And without exaggeration, this lasted ALL AFTERNOON. You could hear the frustration from the police officer’s voice. I kind of felt sorry for him, but it was also pretty hilarious.

Hanami cherry blossoms sakura
Tayasu-mon (castle gates)

Midway my hanami walk, I found this guy selling nikuman (some kind of dumpling). I bought one (it was good!) and asked if I could take a picture. We had a little chat after that. He said that during the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), when people in Japan started seeing cameras, many people did not want to get their photos taken as they thought that it made their lives shorter. Interesting.

Nikuman dumplings

Nikuman seller

A few more pictures from my hanami walk:

Funny kid hanami sakura cherry blossoms
Kid with his funny pose
Statue somewhere in Japan
Statue of Prince Kitashirakawa
Boats at Chidorigafuchi during cherry blossom season
Boats at Chidorigafuchi
Some lady at the castle walls
Lady using steps as a seat at Tayasu-mon. Overheard some Japanese people not happy with what she was doing.
Some kind of artwork behind a museum in Tokyo
Sculpture behind the Crafts Gallery building of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Some tough guy going through the castle gates
Tough guy going through Tayasu-mon

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