Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cherry Blossoms!

This weekend was extra interesting. We managed to get to Hirosaki to see the cherry blossoms in all their riotous glory. But I should probably explain that besides being a fairly productive week for crafting (meaning I finished a really good romance novel) I broke my toe by accidentally kicking the fridge on Monday night. When I say I broke my toe, I mean it was at such a hideous angle that I immediately started going into convulsions out of terror of having it reset. Yah for the team at the UCC for setting it so nicely! What I didn't know is that I shouldn't have feared the setting the the toe but the needles they stick in you to numb it. I'm fairly certain I was doing back bends in pain and the nice people at the UCC let me swear as much as I wanted. It's amazing how therapeutic swearing is for the soul.

So I've been a gimp for the last week and slowly getting better. Much to the frustration of Ginger, she's had to wait for Ian to get home to go for her walks. Let me tell you carrying a 20lbs baby up two flights of stairs on one good leg is a real challenge. But we soldier on for cherry blossoms!

First I should probably explain the mania that surrounds the Japanese cherry tree or sakura. Sakura are spindly, awkward little trees that have lichen growing on them and ugly red/green/dun colored leaves. But oh when they bloom...all I can say is that I immediately start composing haikus in my mind when I see the sakura's in bloom. In all honesty they are the Cinderella of trees. And the Japanese plant them everywhere. You really don't realize how many of them are around until this time of year. There is a tradition of "flower watching" or Ohanami in Japan where you travel great distances to see the sakura in different towns. They also have a map that predicts the start dates of  blooming of sakura throughout Japan. Don't believe me, check out this link

It has been extra cold up here in Aomori this year and it has pushed the cherry blossoms back. Yesterday I would say they were fully bloomed. This corresponded with Golden Week in Japan making our journey to Hirosaki extra crazy. Golden week is the largest paid vacation period for the working stiffs of Japan. Even our construction workers got a few days off. Most people are wise and leave the country for greener pastures. For all of us crazies who stay and even decide to go off base it's a nightmare. I have never witness such terrible driving in my life, running red lights, buses (BUSES!) trying to out turn our station wagon in a traffic jam. Believe me we saw it all. Ian's hypothesis is that they let people drive this week that wouldn't normally drive and they wreak havoc on the senses.

This being said it took us 6 hours to drive what would normally be a 2.5 hour drive. Shoddy driving instructions and all it was crazy trying to keep the kid buckled and happy in the car that long. There were many considerable naps. I thought Ian was gonna lose his cool. Do you realize how hard it is to make my husband flip his business?  But really seeing the castle grounds covered in pink fluffiness was so worth it.
Hirosaki is considered one of the best places to view cherry blossoms in Japan. It was a large castle complex, the administrative seat of aomori prefecture. All that is left is one guard tower but it still have the beautiful moat. There is a lovely red wooden bridge that takes you over the moat but it was so jammed with people we didn't bother because we had been inside the tower on a different tour.

We also brought our friend who is one of Bea's sitters. Her hubby left for TDY and they went to Hirosaki last weekend but it was just so rainy and miserable that she agreed to come with us again. Skyping with hubby while viewing cherry blossoms...hawt! She kept a hobbler like me company while Ian was marching on ahead with Bea. 

On the way home we took a short cut through the mountains on a very windy road with snow on the sides taller than our car. They close this road after dark. We didn't know and were luckily the last car to sneak through. It was a good thing that Bea was asleep the whole time because in between snapping photos we were all on the verge of motion sickness. We are totally gonna have to do this drive in the summer, it's so beautiful!

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