By the time I post this, the cherry blossom will be gone. However last week, the cherry blossoms hit Akita in full force! Last year, they were apparently a bit rubbish (knocked off by rain, few flowers, etc.) but my experience of them was pretty good!
Yes, those are daffodils you see by the side of the road – a nice reminder of home! It always makes me think of the thousands of daffodils that line the main road out of my hometown Aberdeen.
Now, in Akita the best (and probably most famous) spot to see the cherry blossoms is Kakunodate (an old Samurai village – also where the float matsuri took place in October). I went TWICE.
The first visit was with some friends over the weekend – we had aimed to walk to the station and get there nice and early. Things did not quite go to plan…we had to change trains and Omagari where we were forced to wait for 3 hours until the next train. This turned out to be more fun than expected – we found a tiny ramen restaurant to eat lunch in AND got Rick-rolled at a market. Seriously – the last song I would expect to hear in Japan was ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. We didn’t end up in Kakunodate until around 4pm, but there were still plenty of people and, best of all: Festival Food Stands.
Naturally, we also had to eat cherry blossom ice cream:
(even as I write this, I’m eating cherry blossom flavoured jelly beans…)
The second time I visited was on the aforementioned Bus Trip. We set off (in 5 buses, seriously there were loads of people) ridiculously early and ended up in Kakunodate by mid-morning. The weather was perfect. It must have been about 17 degrees (ending up at 20 degrees by the afternoon) with clear blue skies, crowds of cherry blossoms viewers and us, the obligatory foreigners.
After a few hours wandering around Kakunodate, visiting some of the old samurai houses and watching some of the shows of traditional songs/dances.
We then moved on to Lake Tazawa. I had visited it before (on the same trip that took us to the float festival), however it had been a miserable day. So I was looking forward to seeing it in the brilliant sunshine! There were a few people who had planned to go swimming, but were a little more intelligent – it was April, after several months of snow, at the deepest lake in Japan, so the water was going to be freezing. We weren’t disappointed. We did go in for a paddle, but the was quite enough and we had a good laugh at the screams of the swimmers!
The lake itself was as beautiful as I had hoped – deep, clear blue water, surrounded by snow covered hills.
We also visited the other side of the lake, the drive round it also beautiful. When we got there, it was time for ice cream: round 2! The local hotel had a beautiful rose garden in the summer so, fittingly, it sold rose flavoured ice cream.
Sadly, now the cherry blossom is slowly becoming just a carpet of petals lining the roads and covering cars, soon to be gone for another year. It’s a little sad, but I guess that’s nature for you!
One thing I’ve realised is just how fast this year has gone – it’s already May! Not long until I go home…a sad thought, but one I’ll have to deal with soon.
On a final note for this post, I’m making a little shout-out to Bonson Lam, one of my blog readers (yes, they’re out there somewhere), whom I met on Sunday at church. It was lovely to meet you and I’m so glad you got to experience Tsuchizaki Gloria Chapel!
As for the rest of you, that’s it for another post. So until next time, またね！