The Japanese are smart. They stick almost all their public holidays into just two separate weeks of the year so you get a decent break. They call it Golden week and silver week. Unfortunately, some 100 million (no joke) other people are on holiday too and not much is open because the shop keepers are, yep – you guessed it, on holiday.
Still, despite a nasty deadline and some even nastier weather I managed to get away for a train ride around the Boso peninsular (Chiba), take a burn on the bike through the traditional buildings of Kawagoe and on to the mountains to Chichibu where I checked out the flower festival, dressed up in traditional kit and took a very nice onsen (hot spring bath). On the way home I dodged a tornado (apparently), rode through a mountain (seriously) and avoided a few thunderstorms by sitting them out in ramen shops.
Hanami Festival was on the weekend and is celebrated by picnicking with friends under the cherry blossoms. I was lucky enough to be invited by Yamazaki-San from work to spend Sunday afternoon with a large and diverse group of his friends and friends-of-friends at Meijijingu Park. It seemed that there were about another 50,000 + people there picnicking with us
It was a great day out and I met some wonderful people. In particular they helped break the stereotype of Japanese I have been told about repetitively and have witnessed a lot so far. They were very talkative, reasonably opinionated, mostly spoke pretty good english and many had travelled. Especially to QLD it seemed for either uni or high-school.
The biggest upside to the day was the atmosphere of fun and excitement that pervaded the park. It was a very joyous occasion with lots of singing, dancing and music. The usually reserved facade gave way to a joyous jollyness and amusement. I’m sure the copious amounts of beer, shoyu and Sake may have had something to do with it. None of the public unrest that comes with such public drinking in Australia, UK and the US though.