A brief tale of my travels through Japan (in particular Sapporo, my second home). I started travelling to Japan in 2003, and have made 9 trips since then... I've been married (to T-chan), bought my first house, and had one child (our son, L-kun) and now a second one (our daughter, C-chan).
I'm writing this in 2012, so it's sort of like going back in a time machine. Eventually I will get back to current day!...
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-(
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!