My 5 Favourite places to Hanami in Sakura season.

Sakura Season is upon us!

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Each year towards the end of March, the Sakura blossoms come out for a fleeting few days and with it the Japanese people.

When I wrote about the significance of the Sakura season and the history behind it, I also explained what ‘hanami’ was all about:

“‘Hanami’ is directly translated as flower viewing. ‘Hanami’ can be a stroll in the park, admiring the flowers, but traditionally it is a picnic under the trees, with friends and family, food, drink and music. Why not, they are truly beautiful!”

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So where will you find me this Sakura season?

Showa Kinen Park

Admittedly I’ve yet to visit it during the peak of Sakura season, but it has the most beautiful area which has masses of cherry blossoms, which I can just imagine are beautiful. I have been there towards the end of the season, and the weeping cherry in the Japanese garden was just spectacular!

Shinjuku Goen National Garden

This has been our go to park over the last few years. That said, I doubt whether we will be enjoying our hanami at Shinkuju gone this year, simply because dogs aren’t allowed in…

Yoyogi Park

Chances are very good you will find us here this year. Dogs are allowed in the park, it is our local park and it has a beautiful area for children to play, burn off energy while the adults admire pink cherry blossoms!

Ueno Koen

Ueno is just beautiful in Sakura season. It is also very entertaining. The paths/ roads that go though the park have areas that are cordoned off and have blue tarpaulin laid on the ground. Watching corporate Japanese people enjoying their picnic, shoes beautifully placed next to the tarpaulins oblivious to people around them makes for a very interesting outing.

Aoyama cemetery

I would never have dreamed of enjoying a hanami picnic at a cemetery, but I have done and it was something unique to Japan. The blossoms are magnificent and there were a variety of different shades of pink.

So I’m off, to go and enjoy the blossoms. Hope to see you there!

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To see the Sakura Forecast for 2016, click here

Exploring, exploring…

I have made a new friend at swimming. She and I meet every week while our children have their lesson and as the year has progressed we are becoming more than just two mums-who-meet-at-the-pool-every-week.

She only arrived in the summer, and after one of our chats about places to visit, I realised what a wealth of knowledge I have gained over the last 3 1/2 years as I’ve gone about ‘making the most of my time here’.

So I’ve decided to start another series. This series will be linked to My 5 and will give some information about where to explore in Japan (though for now it will mainly be in Tokyo.) At the start of each month, I will post about My 5 favourite places to visit based on a particular theme.

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Hopefully this will inspire you to head out and explore. I would also love to hear what you would recommend each month. If there is anything you would like to see on the list (Such as parks, playgrounds or such like), please do leave a comment below.

I will start next week with My 5 Favourite Aquariums.

Beginning of the School Year Blues

It’s that time of year again.

The children are back at school.


But I have been struggling a bit. Looking back at various posts, it’s not the first time I’m struggling with this, so I’ll try not to bore you too much.

What I have been struggling with since coming back from our summer in the UK is that age old question of what to do with my time, now that my children are all at school. Granted this is not a situation unique to being an expat, but being an expat has different aspects to that question.

Go back to work: as a teacher by trade, that could be easy, as finding an English speaking school here wouldn’t be too hard. But I’m here on a dependent spouse visa. Meaning, I am dependent-on-my-spouse. I am not allowed a job. Can’t open a bank account. Dependent. I can change my visa status and I believe it isn’t that hard, but how desperately do I want to go back to work…


Friends come and go: in my case, I’ve already seen a lot of my close friends leave and most of the others will be leaving at the end of this school year, due to the fact that most expat contracts are 2-4 years in length. Do I want to be working, or spending the time I have left with them enjoying their company?

We are entering our fourth year here, so we perhaps we will be leaving too. Perhaps she says….
We don’t know. Not quite Limbo Land, but the uncertainty is there.

So what to do with my time?

I could embrace the expat life:

    • Join a particular elite club, attend it’s gym and use its facilities.
    • Enjoy lengthy lunches
    • Have beautiful blow dried hair and nails sporting the latest art.

Hmmm… Maybe not.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been enjoying the lunches with my friends, and my waistline is proof of that, but there have been times when I’ve been enjoying lunches with my friends after an explore.

That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to exercise and I’m going to enjoy lunches with my friends. We are going to make the most of what time we have left in this amazing country and see as much as we can. Using, wherever possible, our feet as the primary form of transport and enjoying a lunch before heading back to collect our brood.

I shall bring you along too. I plan to blog more regularly, sharing posts about matters of faith, life, travel, motherhood and just the fun and games Somedays bring and so inspire you to explore more….

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Oh How I Love Japanese Seasons!

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Seasons, beautiful seasons. Each with its own variety and differences.

One of the things that I love about Japan is their defined seasons. Yes, the UK has four seasons, but they aren’t nearly as clearly marked as Japanese seasons.
Cherry blossoms

Two weeks ago, it was cold. Spring had started to arrive and things were warming up. Albeit that we were still wearing trousers, t-shirts were possible, and jumpers discarded in the middle of the day. But then we had a cold spell. It started to rain and the temperatures changed from in the teens to below ten degrees Celsius. One day, we even had sleet! Granted it was a cold snap, and thankfully, two weeks later it’s warmed up. Truly warmed up.
Temperatures are now consistently in the early twenties and the summer clothes are starting to come out. Hooray!
BBQs are happening. Sitting on the patio. Quiet times on the patio.

Bliss…

It won’t be long though before the perils of summer appear. The humidity levels increase and (oh my hat!) the Mosquitos, but for now it’s glorious…

The humidity will arrive with the wet season- June and July. August in Tokyo is unbearable. Temperatures are generally in the high thirties and the humidity is over 70%. It is impossible to do anything without breaking into a sweat. Air conditioning is a life saver and necessity. Noticeably come mid-September and it will disappear. I kid you not. I was told about it, when I first arrived, and I didn’t believe the person. Seriously- the humidity goes in mid Spetember? But Lo and behold, come mid September, the humidity dies and the temperatures become bearable.
End of October and the jumpers need to come out of storage.
November sees the last of the mozzies. Finally!
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Early December and the coats, wooly hats and gloves are needed.

Omotosando Dori
Omotosando Dori

January/ February sees the possibility of snow in Tokyo.

March- light coats, no more gloves, hats and scarves. ( though there are cold spells in between)
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May- summer clothes…
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Oh dear- that means legs on show…

Pale legs on show…..

Pale, hairy legs on show….
And so the summer body preparation begins.

Sakura Season- My 5 Favourite Places to Photograph the blossoms in Tokyo.

Sakura Season!

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It is that time of the year where Tokyo (and the rest of Japan) turn pink and people escape outdoors with their picnics and tripods. It is a very brief time- best for about 5 days, and thankfully the weather is in our favour this year. (Last year it poured with rain for the crucial days and washed the bulk of the blossoms off the trees!)

Kitanomaru Park and Imperial Palace East Gardens.

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This park is just beautiful. Exit at Exit 2 from Kudanshita station on the Toei Subway line and you’ll be hit with blossoms, and their clicking fan club!

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Showa Kinen Park

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Oh, I love this park. From now, until late summer there is a burst of colour from the cherries, to the tulips, poppies and cosmos. It also boasts a great children’s area, open field and cycle route.

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Shinjuku Goen National Garden

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Another one of my favourite parks. The cherries here are just exquisite, as is their setting.

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Aoyama Cemetry
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I found this a rather strange place to see the blossoms, but it was quite something to behold. I’m not sure though, whether I was more taken with the blossoms or the lunching people in the cemetery!

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Ueno Park

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I enjoy visiting Ueno park at sakura season, more to watch all the people sitting along the path enjoying their hanami. Complete with the tradition of removing their shoes when the sit on the tarpaulin!

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To see the Sakura Forecast for 2015, click here

Sakura Season- an Explanation

Hooray, Sakura Season is upon us!

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It is a time where Tokyo (and the rest of Japan) turn pink and people escape outdoors with their picnics and tripods.

‘Sakura’ is the Japanese word for the Japanese cherry or Prunus serrulata. For most of the year, the thousands of Prunus all over the country blend in with all the other deciduous trees, but in spring they turn Japan pink virtually overnight.

The blossoms hold deep significance to the Japanese. They are deeply rooted in their traditions and cultures, linking back to the Heian Period (794-1185) to the samurai’s, the Edo Period and even as recent as the kamikaze pilots in WWII. Due to the intense beauty  and fleeting nature of the blossoms- they serve as a visual reminder of how overwhelmingly beautiful yet how short life can be.

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Each year, the Japanese follow the Sakura Forecast as the trees come into bloom from Okinawa in January, through to Kyushu in mid March, Central Honshu (Tokyo) in late March, North Honshu in April and Hokkaido in early May. Once the blooms arrive, the Japanese celebrate the blossoms by holding a ‘Hanami’.

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Hanami’ is directly translated as flower viewing. Hanami’ can be a stroll in the park, admiring the flowers, but traditionally it is a picnic under the trees, with friends and family, food, drink and music.  Why not, they are truly beautiful!

But there is more to the festivities than just a big party. Due to the fleeting nature of the blossoms-they serve as a visual reminder of the beauty and frailty of our life. So when the Japanese enjoy their picnics, under the shower of blossom petals, they are being reminded about larger meaning and traditions that the ‘Hanami’ festival has.

To see the Sakura Forecast for 2014, click here