Hanami Countdown to March 26th in the Tokyo Area

posted in: Hanami, Parks, Spring, Tokyo, Ueno | 0
Hanami, Ueno Park, zoo, yamato, spirit, travel, in Japan, visiting Japan, eating in Japan, international, tourists, temples, parks, museums, art, kimono, green tea, sushi, Akihabara, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Okinawa, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Honshu, Hokkaido, tech, games, manga, anime,
The bears want you to join them for hanami in Ueno Park. I’d RSVP if I were you.


Hanami Season is Upon Us in Tokyo – Be there and FEEL the Hanami Love!

Spent the say at Ueno Park Zoo yesterday. Animals were lively. I promise, pics to follow. Between the animals, cherry blossoms and people watching we got some great images to share with our friends. I post this now to give you a heads up on the Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) festivities that are revving up towards the end of this month and into April. We’ve gone before and it’s a beautiful sight to see. Plus, a very popular way for families and lovers to share in the beauty of what seems to be a cherry blossom covered park in Tokyo springtime. People will be picnicking, spending time at the shrines and basking in the beauty of plum and cherry blossoms as the world suddenly becomes very pink.

This is a MUST SEE event, so don’t miss it. If you know of hanami opportunities around Japan please leave your comments or contact us and we will be happy to post information and photos. I know we plan to make a run out to Chichibu to their gorgeous cherry blossom viewing season. Lots of cosplayers out there which is an added beauty.

More information here. Follow one of the images to the Official Ueno Park Zoo web site. The link takes you to an English page. The web site offers multiple languages for international visitors. If you live in Japan or you are visiting for an extended period, consider an annual pass. In 4 visits the pass has paid for itself and it offers a years worth of fun and joy for the pass holder. The Zoo also offers discounts to schools and groups. It is also possible to book special events or special programs for large groups. Cameras and video cameras are allowed. Please do not use your FLASH though. It can be very disturbing to the critters. Especially the marsupials.

Hanami, Ueno Park, zoo, yamato, spirit, travel, in Japan, visiting Japan, eating in Japan, international, tourists, temples, parks, museums, art, kimono, green tea, sushi, Akihabara, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Okinawa, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Honshu, Hokkaido, tech, games, manga, anime,
A great map and guide for the park and the zoo and points of interest for hanami visitors.

A Short Walk Down a Long Path in mountain town of Yokoze

Spring has finally come to Japan after a long and cold, though for us, uneventful (Yay, No Snow!) winter. Today we went to the mountain town of Chichibu to see the Shibazakura. Some years ago the townspeople got the great idea to create a carpet of flowers, “Shibazakura” to welcome the spring and welcome visitors to their beautiful town.

ys02This is the view from the path that takes you to the flower event. Such a breathtaking view.

On the path we found wild flowers and color of an amazing scope and variety. Yokoze is really an enjoyable place and a lot of fun for the whole family. A gentle climb eventually takes you to the shibazakura, just ahead, but until then enjoy the scenery and the vibrant life and beauty springing up all around you now that winter has faded to a memory.

ys03This wood pile is not just an ordinary wood pile used for firewood. Rather this wood is used to grown mushrooms the old fashioned way. Japanese people in the mountains have been growing mushrooms this way for centuries. Just because it is 2015 some things do not need to change.

ys04 A little closer to the festival we find more and more color. Gardens are everywhere and this beautiful house garden lines the road to welcome travelers and help guide the way to shibazakura.

ys06On our way home we found this beautiful lake. It is actually an ancient reservoir that has some very interesting history. History going back 1000 years and relates to an up-rising in the region, one of the only uprisings of local people against the central government of the time.



Have you tried Shika Menchi?

posted in: Chichibu, Shibazakura, Spring | 0

shika menchi  鹿めんち shika menchi  鹿めんち shika menchi  鹿めんち shika menchi  鹿めんちWe just returned from this year’s shibazakura going on in Saitama prefecture in the mountain town of Chichibu. You can easily find your way by taking the Seibu Chichibu line train and get off at the Yokoze stop. Follow the big pink signs to your right as you exit the station.

It’s just a short walk through country farms and mountain homes. Its a different path than if you take the train all the way into Chichibu and go to the flower carpet festival nestled in the hills below Mt Bukol.

The last time I got to have venison I was a teenager in the Southern US. I was at a historical re-enactment event and some fellow history buffs made a big pot of venison stew. It was delicious and since then I’ve always wanted to try venison again.

As we approached the entrance to the flower carpet display we found ourselves on the pathway you see above. Just a little further up the trail and on the left we found a little wooden shack and two kind ladies preparing snacks and treats for travelers on their way to the beautiful spectacle of flowers.

Japanese call these korokke cakes “shika menchi” 鹿めんち – You can have a toasted delicious cake made with rice, mountain spices, and ground up wild deer meat.

Yasukuni shrine, Beautiful, peaceful and popular with Japanese


We visited Yasukuni shrine on a weekend. Their was an antique market going on in front of the shrine; we wanted to see both. The market was great but the shrine was even more so. There is a power there that some people do not like. Personally, I think every country has a right to honor their dead. There are no innocent countries or armies anywhere as far as I know. They do good, they do bad.





I enjoy going to shrines throughout Japan. Yasukuni has been on my list for awhile. We came through the main dori, washed our hands and mouths and entered the shrine’s main compound. We prayed and stopped for a few moments to reflect on the peace and quiet, the birds singing and the beauty of the place.



I recommend visiting Yasukuni if you have the chance. It is situated in a beautiful part of Tokyo, not far from the Tokyo Dome.

In this pond, the koi are feeling the love with splendid colors

posted in: Animals-Widlife, fish, Iruma, koi, Spring | 0

We were visiting Irumashi the other day. Their is a cool section called Johnson town, the subject of another post coming up in the next few days. Across from Johnson town are schools and a massive park network with places for picnicking, walking, jogging, biking, cosplay shoots, (another post coming) and at least two lakes.

Its a vibrant and great place for the whole family and for…this pond of koi. These fish are HUGE.




In this pond, the koi are feeling the love with splendid colors. Iruma has a beautiful pond and a larger lake. Koi are in abundance in this pond, a koi pond I guess. Their colors are beautiful and they are very friendly.




In this pond, the koi are feeling the love with splendid colors. I’m convinced there is a special magic at work in this park. We did not retouch or re-color the photos in any way. We re-sized them and added our website’s watermark and that was it. I wasn’t sure if I would post them beforehand. It was a cloudy day, the pond was murky and the fish were looking…a little bland. Probably feeling the rain and the chill of the weather.

I guess something happened somewhere because the koi you see above truly represent the life force they gave off to our group. They were very active, jumping around almost, and I guess they just wanted to show their true colors. Remarkable.

Do you have any animal, fish or wildlife photos we can post? If you do, please contact us here t the site. We’d love to share your work.

High on a hilltop, the sakura have awakened

posted in: Saitama, Spring | 0

Do you like nature watching like we do? I admit, I also enjoy human watching, especially children as they play together and laugh and run around. But today, there was no great beauty then a park near our home that is truly awakening to spring. Even as the news report tells us if temperatures dropping and perhaps a little snow, I can look back on this day and feel like the trees, I am once again, coming alive after a long winter’s nap.





High on a hilltop, the sakura have awaken

Night Sakura, Tokyo, April 2015

posted in: Saitama, Spring | 0






Night Sakura, Tokyo, April 2015 – Last weekend we took the opportunity to visit a new yakiniku restaurant and attend a local night sakura viewing festival. Hanami time is so far one of my favorite times of the year in Japan. The trees are beautiful, the temperatures are rising and you can feel the eagerness an d light hearted feeling of everyone around you as we all know spring is coming into bloom and summer will soon be here. We made our way to the park and as we approached we could see the first sakura lit only by the night sky of moon and stars. Once in the park lanterns of different shapes and colors were strung across the open areas and also generously amongst the trees. What a beautiful site. The place was fairly crowded on this cool spring night. Families, friends, groups of people from work and school all came out to enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms at night.

Spring is Close and the Sakura Are Coming Alive

posted in: Spring, Tokyo, Ueno | 0

Sakura trees are blooming now. Really glad spring is finally coming to Tokyo. We have been lucky as the winter was mild compared to last year…but it has been long. Sometimes I thought it would never end; the cold days and short nights. But on a recent trip to Ueno Park to visit Bentin Summa and see the lake coming back to life…I was surprised to see the cherry blossoms sprouting and the trees filling the twilight with a pink hue against a blue sky. I love this country.

Chichibu Shibazakura flowers bring beauty to visitors this spring

posted in: Chichibu, Spring | 0

This week we visited Hitsuji Yama Park in Saitama’s town of Chichibu.  Chichibu is world famous for their annual Shibazakura flowers which when planted by local townspeople across a small valley create an amazing site to see.

Town sign for Chichibu Shibazakura

Shibazakura create a blanket of color that is breath-taking to witness.



Surrounding walking trails, sakura trees, a lake and picnicking areas make Hitsujiyama park a certain destination for families, singles, friends and lovers.


We were excited to see so many younger people visiting Hitsujiyama, taking photos, sharing food and drinks and enjoying the beautiful sakura in full bloom.




Special events will happen at the park throughout the spring and summer. A small arcade has been set up featuring food, drinks (tea and alcohol) and farm fresh products from local shops and farms. The local shops present great fare at very reasonable prices. No price gouging going on here.

There are also some very cute sheep on exhibition, always a visitor favorite.



Kids love em and also an agricultural exhibit which features the small trees, Morus, or commonly known as Mulberries provide food for (蚕 )  silk worms. I never knew that (蚕 )  silk worms are entirely dependent upon humans for food, habitat and pro-creation.


Silk worms, or (蚕 )  in Japanese are featured since Chichibu has a long history, going back hundreds of years as a textile hub for some of the finest textiles in Japan.


Chichibu offers an excellent website to guide visitors through the area. For ease and convenience of use the site is available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. Click here to visit.


The park address: Hitsujiyama kouen, Hitsujiyama park


Chichibu, Saitama, Japan


Tasting the Essence of Hanami Season in Tokyo

posted in: Bars, Entertainment, Spring, Tokyo | 0

It’s a bit rainy today but the forecast is for clearing skies around Tokyo for the weekend. Sakura are blooming like mad and maybe now is the perfect time for a Hanami Party with friends and lovers.

Hanabi is popular Bar in Meguro
View from Hanabi tables

We’ve done a little research and have discovered a few pubs, bars and meeting places that are perfect for the Hanami season. Bar Hanabi in Nakameguro is a great place. You can find them at 2-16-11 Aobadai, Meguru-ku, tel. 03-5456-4404. Once you are in Meguro you can find Hanabi on a beautifully cherry blossom lined street. Their website is ( http://www.hanabi-nakame.jp )

Hanabi is popular Bar in Meguro
Inside Hanabi Bar

Hanabi offers party rental facilities are tables for intimate groups and couples. What I like the most, besides the great food, is that there are more than 100 varieties of cocktails.  So great food and drinks in a beautiful little place with an amazing view.

Hanabi Bar offers perfect mix of dood and cocktails
Delicious food available

Meguro is a beautiful city and perfect for watching Sakura or Hanami. At night the lanterns that line the river give a special beauty to the sakura lined walkways and streets that wind through the area. Hanabi offers perfect viewing opportunity to enjoy all of it. Doubt me? Just take a look.

Sakura watching on the Meguro gawa

The street around Hanabi, perfect for Hanami season.

Hanami season in Meguro

Enjoy the soft glow of the lanterns at night. Best idea is to come in the afternoon and watch the changing colors as the sun sets over Meguro. This Hanami season enjoy the sakura from different and new places around Tokyo.

Hanami season in Meguro
View from hanabi