Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hokkaido Jingu - Cherry Blossoms in May

6th May, 2009 - Alas, I was already back and truly in Adelaide when the Cherry Blossoms had come to Sapporo... and Golden Week is always the time for hanami in Sapporo... and the place where everyone goes is Hokkaido Jingu. It was one year before that we had all gone to the same park to see the sakura... but that year it had largely finished already (and I was a little disappointed). T-chan took some of these photos to let me see what I'd missed. L-kun, T-chan, her parents, and Auntie were off to have a picnic! Once again I'd be left feeling like I'd missed out.   ?8-( 

View Sapporo Map in a larger map

The blooms were certainly out on the approach to Hokkaido Shrine, through Maruyama Kouen... and so were the tourists and locals alike. Golden Week (29 April - 5 May) is the peak time for Japanese to get out and about on holidays... and as cherry blossoms are due around this time in Sapporo, it's also a popular destination. Cherry blossoms first appear down in the deep south (in Okinawa) from January/February, and they'll bloom in the north (Hokkaido) in May. That means that whilst the flowering only lasts at peak for about 1 week, if you have freedom of movement then there's a good chance you can find somewhere with blossoms  during March - May.

One of the favourite things to do in Maruyama-Kouen at this point is to find a nice spot and have a bite to eat. It's particularly popular to have barbecues (which can be hired in the park).

Okaasan, Auntie-S. L-kun, Otousan

And there's never a bad time to have food - especially a picnic!
Just say Aaaaaaaahhhhh!

Just don't expect a peaceful lunch out... there's lots of people and lots of noise. There's also quite a bit of drinking that is associated with ohanami (flower viewing).

It's also a great time to go walk the dog.... ok, not everyone has a real dog to walk. However, even an inflatable dog can be a great way of meeting people. The dog was actually a gift from ojiichan to L-kun, and he loved it - and he still plays with it (though the wheels are getting a little worn out now). I also have to say, that "mixed" children are always popular in Japan... you would think they had two heads and had flown down from the moon. I get a little frustrated at the attention L-kun can get - he gets spoilt enough by his parents! By the way - if you're wondering what's that on his back... it's actually a neat little backpack/leash.

Ok - I can sense that there's a lot of people that don't like the use of the word leash when it comes to children. All I can say is that there was a time around this time when it gave mum and dad a lot of reassurance that L-kun wouldn't walk off in the crowd (especially with the 1000's of people walking around Maruyama and the trains etc). Also - they are pretty cute.

Of course - when you're at Maruyama Kouen, you should pop into see the Hokkaido Jingu. There's not much in the way of shrines - at least old shrines - in Hokkaido. And Sapporo seems to be largely devoid of them compared to a lot of Japanese cities. Once again that stems from the fact that Sapporo is relatively young (being established formally in 1868), and even though this period very roughly coincides with the steady re-ascent of Shinto in Japan, it did not appear to be reflected in the growth of local shrines.

The koinobori are an odd addition at this time of the year - celebrating Children's (Boys) Festival - which is actually the last public holiday of Golden Week on the 5th of May (the previous day).

And yes - Children's Day has to be celebrated in T-chan's household with yet another gloriously colourful cake that you find everywhere over this period.
L-kun enjoys his Boy's Day cake - the night before

Like many shrines, especially at festival time, there are any number of different stalls where you buy an assortment of foods. Yummy.

Now - I have to say, that T-chan did something funky with our Canon digicam that day (applied some sort of filter) that gave us a bit of a shock when she checked out the photos that evening. Still, there's something a little interesting (and sepia-like) about some of these photos. Thankfully she discovered this before she'd taken too many photos. Kawaisou!


  1. Pretty!~

    Any reason to celebrate is good enough for me, especially picnics. I love the inflatable dog. Although it won't stand a chance against Toshi. =)

  2. Hmmm - it would be an interesting meeting between the two of them. I suspect that there's no amount of puncture repair tape that would make it end in smiles however.

    Picnics are great. I have to say that we don't do them that much, but we always enjoy them. It's sort of our Valentines Day tradition to go out for a picnic dinner together. A lot nicer than going to a restaurant.

  3. Nice sakura pics. Too bad I'll move to Singapore just before they bloom in Tokyo.