Cherry Blossoms in Japan. Been There, Done That.

For many years I’ve thought coming to Japan during cherry blossom season would be great. Unfortunately the two times I’ve been here have been around my birthday which is too early for the season.

While planning this current trip, I stumbled upon mention of a town called Kawazu that’s a couple of hours away from Tokyo by train that gets cherry blossoms around my birthday; in fact their cherry blossom festival ends on my birthday. I found a seaside resort nearby and decided to book one day of our trip to come here. Cherry blossoms aren’t completely predictable, and this was a somewhat expensive side trip, so I stalked the trees via the town’s webcam in the weeks leading up to the trip to ensure we wouldn’t miss them.

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Well they are here and we didn’t miss them but several things have marred the experience for us. First off we arrived in the bright and sunny afternoon and saw beautiful blossoms around the train station. We had to take a shuttle to the hotel to drop off our luggage. Even though we were only an hour from check-in time, they wouldn’t let us and stored our bags for us. The hotel lunch buffet was expensive and full of stuff we couldn’t recognize that was labelled in Japanese. We decided to go into Kawazu to try to find food. The food stalls for the festival were full of dried fish, oranges and lemons and other fruit, both dried and not, and all expensive.

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We came back to the hotel and ate peanut butter on bread and spent some time on the internet. We headed back into town again but it was grey and cloudy so the blossoms didn’t look as good. We found out from the shuttle driver that the “late” shuttle was cancelled (it’s normally scheduled to leave just after they light the trees along the river up with coloured lights).

The highlights for me were all the people who push their little dogs around in strollers and a boy walking home from school with two friends who heard me speaking English and started speaking English to me. I can’t remember what he said his name was but he said “I like sushi” and when my Mom said “Do you like hamburgers?” he replied “I like hamburgers”.

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We ended up walking up the river where I decided to use a hot springs foot bath. The town is famous for its hot springs baths but as my mother said so eloquently “getting naked with strangers is not on my bucket list!”

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We didn’t want to waste time hanging around for the lights (which are far away from the train station) because we thought we had to walk back to the hotel. While thinking about all the walking we had put in, I remembered that there was a train station by our hotel and we managed to just catch the next train.

Back in our hotel, not wanting to spend between $70 and $110 each on dinner, we ate wasabi peanuts we bought in a Kyoto and granola bars and almonds we brought from home. To top off our exciting day, we split a bottle of wine we got on our flight here.

Now it’s off to bed with the sound of waves crashing on the beach outside. Tomorrow takes us to Tokyo.

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