anibee's Ultimate Otaku Outing - Ueno Park Hanami!
What's there to do in Japan during the Spring season? Why, to catch sight of the blooming cherry blossoms (A.K.A sakuras), of course! 8D And that's exactly what Q and I did; we headed to Ueno Park for a lovely walk amongst the pinkish-white sakuras! This is called the act of sakura-viewing. :3 (Q: Also called hanami/花見)
With no surprise, the park was crowded with many locals and foreigners alike to catch sight of this lovely event that only takes place once a year! I would have actually expected the sakuras to be a lot more pinkish (too much anime/manga influence hur), but this pinkish-white colour is breathtakingly pretty too.
Isn't it beautiful? I know it's hard to bring across the ethereal beauty of these flowers just through pictures, but really, being able to see this sight in real life is amazing! Doesn't this kind of picture remind you of certain scenes in otome games? The best part is when there's a gust of wind, sakura petals are dramatically blown everywhere (totally like an otome game owo).
It's a pity my camera couldn't capture the instant where the petals were just streaming past me. Like sakura petals raining everywhere, as well as on BOTH Q AND MYSELF 8D Dohohoho, I guess it should be enough with talking about the sakura petals. XD
Anyways, other than just looking at the sakura trees and walking around, it's known for people to sit down and have a picnic while admiring the artwork of Mother Nature. There are plenty of mats around available for people to just sit back and relax with a nice meal. Some even bring their own stools and mini tables to ensure their own comfort while hanami-ing! 8D It doesn't hurt to be in comfort while having a good meal with your loved ones, and being showered in sakura petals. owo
Typical of the Japanese, there are many sorted bins such as the ones pictured above in the park. It's expected that there would be a huge number of people picnicking in the park, hence the gigantic bins available for people to sort out their rubbish properly after their meals. :>
In all honesty, Q and I were expecting ourselves to just take a nice sakura-viewing walk in the park. We never knew Lady Luck was actually pretty favorable to us for our Japan trip! Guess what we saw in the middle of the park?
It's a matsuri right there! 8DD Imagine our luck! It's not always that we'd see a matsuri during the sakura-viewing season. :> Of course, upon seeing it there, we can't just waste our opportunity and not go check it out right? Dohohohoho!
There were so many delectable goodies and interesting items for sale. If I didn't have proper self-control, I would have spent a lot more on the foods there. =w= I never really knew that things at a festival would be that expensive though. :( I would have loved to try most of the foods there but my wallet was objecting. So the only food that I bought there was...
A CHOCOLATE BANANA!! 8D It's something that I've always seen in mangas and animes, so when i saw this on sale at a booth, I didn't hesitate to buy it at all. :3 It tasted like a normal banana dipped in chocolate sauce with chocolate sprinkles - nothing special really... But it's all for the fun of having to own and eat a genuine Japanese choco-banana. I guess that's something I can tick off my "To own" list. o
Well, here are some other pictures taken at the sakura-viewing festival. Food, food and more food. :>
After we've walked to one end of the hanami festival, we realised there was a temple/shrine there. Since it's not often that we'll be visiting a shrine in Japan, both Q and I decided to make an offering to get an o-mikuji (random fortunes written on strips of paper).
I even bought a bundle of incense (it's called the osenkou/お線香, if I'm not wrong) to light and let them burn out amongst the other incense. Q told me that fanning the smoke from the incense burner towards yourself is believed to provide luck and have some form of healing power, so that's exactly what I did. :> -immense fanning-
After which, we proceeded inside the shrine to make an offering at the offering hall - basically throwing a coin in the offering box and clapping our hands once. It's pretty much like making a prayer, but doing it the Japanese way. :D
Anyways, I can't recall what Q's fortune was, but my fortune was the best available - Great Blessing A.K.A dai-kichi (大吉). (Q: Mine was Normal Blessing aka chuu-kichi/中吉) I didn't tie my fortune to the ropes available outside the shrine, because I wanted to bring it back to Singapore as a souvenir. I've kept it in my wallet even up till now. :> It's provided me with much luck! I still don't really understand what my fortune says though, and I really wish someone could translate it for me. :(
All in all, it was a GREAT experience, having to be able to see the sakuras for myself in its full blooming glory, and being able to experience a genuine Japanese festival for the first time. I even got to visit a shrine and picked out my fortune - and that wasn't even on the to-do list when we decided to go to Ueno Park! XD
Q and I were pretty lucky that day. :3
We ended off our trip to Ueno Park by purifying ourselves at the purification fountain located outside the shrine. Q and I washed our hands with the fresh water there, and then using the ladle, we also rinsed our mouths with the water. We left the place feeling extremely refreshed and purified. :> Sakura-viewing, a festival we never expected and an impromptu visit to the shrine. What more can we ask for?
Next up in anibee UO2 - a trip to one of the otaku-meccas of Tokyo; Akihabara!!