Hanako Lowry: An early cherry blossom sighting March 2021






Hello everyone! It’s Hana again.

Tokyo is still in a state of emergency so I have tried to only visit open-air places and socially distance on any of outings during this break. I also don’t feel quite comfortable doing any domestic travel during this current climate so I have been having a nice, laid-back time familiarising myself with the city (and using my Japanese!) to recharge ahead of my activities next term.


On a friend’s recommendation, I explored the Shibamata area with some fellow graduate students from another Tokyo university. We love ‘shitamachi’ areas of Tokyo so it was a lovely area to walk around. We popped into a little retro sweet shop, had a walk down the shotengai or shopping street and we went to a temple with a famous pine tree that resembles a dragon. It is normally a touristy area but it was very quiet under the current circumstances.

This month I was also able to see some early cherry blossom. There had already been plum blossom dotting the streets of Tokyo but this was the first spot of cherry blossom I had seen this year. With some coursemates, we headed to a park on the outskirts of Tokyo and by the coast (!) because we had seen online that there was a good chance of some early cherry blossom there. Sure enough, when we arrived, we were able to see some trees that were beginning to bloom. It was also a really pleasant day as Tokyo has been warming up recently (up to 20 degrees Celsius on some occasions!) and it was nice to see the ocean for the first time in a while. I am potentially planning on going to some more coastal areas for some ethnographic study later this month and I am looking forward to being by the sea again. I have also been looking ahead at my commitments next term and making some preparations through reading and drafting up research plans.

State of emergency in Tokyo is expected to be lifted in late March but I suspect there is also the possibility of extension. Some research conducted by the university I attend has been circulating in Japanese media and it suggests that continued caution is necessary to keep case numbers down.



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