This month is really flying by. Is it really the end of April? Have I really not written anything in almost a month? Where has all this time gone?
Last post I made, I had been visiting some nice cherry blossom sites. Since then I’ve been to a few more. Cherry blossom season is now over, but here’s a few more photos of the blossoms from mid-month:
A few Fridays ago I finally got to see Maruoka Castle! I’ve lived near here for almost 3 years and I’d never been to Maruoka Castle until now. My old job just didn’t allow me to get out ever. But this was the perfect time, the cherries being in full bloom. The castle was beautiful, especially with the cherries and lanterns everywhere. My camera doesn’t take great night shots, but it was such a beautiful sight to see. I hope to go back in the day and get a better look at the inside of the castle too some time.
The next day my wife and I went to Fukui to walk along the rivers and see some cherry blossoms. Fukui’s most famous blossoms are along the Asuwa river, but this was some other tributary that was less well-known but still very beautiful. We sat for a long time and watched the ducks and pigeons playing around, and people walking under the falling blossoms.
Later on in the day, Hitomi had work, so I walked around the Asuwa River. That day was Fukui’s big Historical Festival and Parade, so the whole city was packed with people, and it was the perfect day for it. Warm, but not hot, and sunny. Tons of entertainers in historical costumes were doing various things — I actually missed most of the show, but I was still able to see the blossoms and crowds. Of course in the huge crowd I still couldn’t help but bump into one of my students, and I also ended up running into some friends. What are the chances? Anyway, I spent the rest of the day with my friends, and at night we climbed up Asuwa Mountain to see the ancient weeping cherry tree at the top. The photos of that didn’t turn out so great so I won’t post them. Again, I hope I can go back there in the day too — it was such a gorgeous mountain, full of classic houses.
On Sunday we woke up early and went with my wife’s family down to Kyoto again. The blossoms were still out, and falling from the trees like a blizzard. It was really amazing. Our main purpose was to visit Hitomi’s brother’s family and take their newborn son to a shrine for a blessing.
We went to the Shimogamo Shrine. The service was really short, but interesting. It’s maybe the closest equivalent in Japanese to a Baptism. It happens about 100 days after the baby is born, and it’s basically just to give thanks for life. And I can’t resist going to ancient shrines.
One neat thing about the Shimogamo Shrine is that it is home to a number of neat things, like the lover’s trees — two trees that grew together and fused into one (pray there for a love blessing) — and also the rock mentioned in Japan’s national anthem. The anthem is based on an ancient Heian era poem, and talks about rocks that grow together to form boulders. This is one such boulder.
So I’ve had a really wonderful spring, and I’ve just been so happy that I’ve finally been able to actually experience springtime in Japan! Not to complain about my previous job or anything… There were many circumstances keeping me from that actually. It’s been fun reminiscing with my wife about visiting her in the hospital up in Uchinada during her jaw surgery, and my accidental trip down to Kyoto when I boarded the super express train by accident…
These past couple weeks I’ve been working like crazy on another big chicken painting — roughly 2′x3′, like The Wedding. It’s 99% done now, and mostly I’m waiting for it to dry… but I should be able to FINALLY post it this week. I feel really bad for not posting anything interesting lately, and especially for not posting any art, but hopefully when I do finally get to post this big painting it will have been worth the wait.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some zombies to kill.