Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ueno Cherryblossoms

The weather here in Tokyo is wonderful. It is spring and cherry blossoms are starting to appear on the trees. For those of you who have never been to a place that has cherry blossoms, you are missing out. But do not fear, I will post pictures here on our blog so that you can enjoy the flowery goodness.

Washington, DC vs Tokyo, Japan?
As you may know, there is also a cherry blossom festival in Washington, DC. The tidal basin has many cherry blossom trees surrounding it. However, in Tokyo, there are far more cherry blossom trees than in Washington, DC. Originally the cherry blossom trees were a gift to the United States from Japan. Back in 1912, Japan gave 3,000 trees to the United States to celebrate their growing friendship. Then they renewed their gift with 3,800 more trees in 1956 ( So, while there are lots of trees in Washington, Tokyo still has many many more. You can see the trees everywhere, not just around one small tidal basin. We went to Ueno Park for our Saturday viewing of the trees. Here is one of the shrine gates in the park with cherry blossoms near it:

Cherry Trees vs Cherry Blossom Trees
Many people believe that cherry blossom trees produce cherries. However, the cherry blossom trees in Tokyo and Washington are a decorative variety of trees. They have had their stamens removed and replaced by petals. So, no cherries, just petals.

Cherry Blossom Coverage at 20%
As you can tell from this picture, there are currently lots of buds, but not too many fully developed cherry blossoms at the park. Hana told us about the Japanese term to describe the percentage of cherry blossoms that are currently showing. For 20%, it is "nibu zaki." And to let you know how difficult it is to learn Japanese phrases, this particular phrase is only used to describe cherry blossoms. Not 20% of anything else. Only cherry blossoms.

Japanese Tourists
There is a stereotype prevalent in the culture of the world about Japanese tourists. Basically that you always see large groups of Japanese touring around, all turning at the same time to take pictures of the particular item that their tour guide is pointing out. Is this stereotype true? Could you even say the same thing about American tourists? Maybe. All we know that is wherever we go, people here seem to be ready to take pictures. Everyone has a camera or a camera phone. And, given that the cherry blossom coverage was only at 20%, the trees with actual flowers were quite the point of interest.

Dan and Angela with Cherry Blossoms
Here we are. Proof that we actually went to see cherry blossoms. Kay took this picture for us near one of the branches that was low enough and blossoming. Notice the cameras and camera phones in the background. This was a very popular spot for photographs.

Other Random Comments

People go to where the cherry blossoms are and sit around on their picnic blankets and eat and drink. If only Washington, DC allowed public drinking at their cherry blossom festival!

I finally bought a cell phone charm. It is blue with a cherry blossom on it. You must all get cell phone charms. We must start a trend in the United States. I mean, what else is the cell phone charm holder on your phone for? Go ahead, look. I'll bet you have a place to attach a cell phone charm. Right now Dan has a kung-fu frog cell phone charm on his phone. If you want some sort of cell phone charm and can't find one in the US, I can try to get you one. Let me know.


Dan said...

Currently we are at


(Roughly: third portion bloom level)

The excitement in the office is reaching an all time high.

Liz said...

Do they also have unique words for things such as 20% incubation of child? You know, every time I see a new post from you I think it may be news, but not just yet...

The Jobe Family said...

I would love to have some of those trees in my yard, how pretty! Thanks for posting them. By the way, what does a cell phone charm look like? We finally got the cellphones, canceling our main phone service.