It’s a race against time now.
One of the unfortunate impacts of my trips outside Tokyo this week was that I was out of town when the peak sakura season hit. And as fate would have it, on Thursday – the day I was resting up – we got a dose of rain and wind, the enemies of late-stage cherry blossoms. So if I was going to see anything of consequence in Tokyo proper, Friday was going to be the day.
Fortunately in Tokyo sakura are everywhere, including in my very own neighborhood. One of the best (though not most famous) spots is along the Kandagawa between Edogawabashi and Takadanobaba stations. Happily the Edogawabashi side is only a 10-minute walk from my apartment, so after the rain stopped I headed over there and snapped a bunch of shots. The weather had definitely taken its toll, but there were still a good deal of blossoms left on the trees. And the blossoms in the water have a certain beauty, too – as I said of snow earlier, it’s hard to imagine anything epitomizing mono no aware better than cherry blossoms.
This was the sort of day that makes me pinch myself and ask, “Is this really where I live?” Along that stretch of the river is the Chinzan-so Hotel (now the Four Seasons) with its magnificent free garden, which I posted on earlier. There’s also the very nice public Shin-Edogowa Garden, and the Waseda terminus for the Toden Arakawa Line, the last true streetcar left in Tokyo. I availed myself of the opportunity to sample all three of them, and rode the Arakawa Line (where the recorded announcements begin with the Osaka-ben universal greeting of “Maido”) all the way out to its other end, in sleepy Minowabashi. Along the way I saw one punk teenager sitting while several elderly (who seem to be much of the clientele on the Arakawa) were standing – and not only that, sitting in the priority seats. You don’t see much chivalry in Japan but this was really egregious. I also overheard a hilarious conversation where a boy who looked about eight who was playing with a dated handheld gaming system kept trying to convince his mother he needed a sumaho, and she kept replying with “But you’re a grade schooler!”
Also on the Arakawa Line is Asukayama Koen, one of the most famous sakura spots in town. It too was past peak, but I had a nice visit even so.