Being Americans we are an impatient lot. Though we only had a day or so of snow this year and the winter has been unseasonably warm (sorry, fellow New Yorkers), we, and our adopted countrymen, are eager for Spring.
Anxiously anticipating the emergence of cherry blossoms, we’ve stubbornly headed out a couple of times now in search of them despite what the Japanese forecasts were saying, which was, in so many words, ‘hold your britches for another week, people.’ And they appear to be right.
Last week we went to the Hama Rikyu gardens hoping to see some blossoms, but found few. It's a lovely park though and features a tea house. The park is situated right next to the Sumida River so it makes for a nice place to sit and watch the river go by. This is the tea house.
But there weren't many blossoms. There were a lot of yellow flowers. And a LOT of other people also hoping to see early blooms.
Yesterday the Professor and I decided to try again and went to Kiyosumi Gardens.
We took the Hanzomon Line to the Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station and exited at the A3 exit. The entrance to the gardens is about a five-minute walk from here, down a side street that is pretty well signed.
While there were only a few blossoms on one or two trees here, it is still a beautiful garden and is now definitely one of my favorites. Taunting us with a few blossoms...
It features a large pond that is home to countless carp, ducks, turtles, cranes, and other birds. This place made me feel like the Fish Whisperer because whenever I’d walk over the stone slabs in the water or get close to the edge of the pond, the fish would come up and stick their gaping mouths at me looking for food. At one point, I had a duck and three fish following me along the path.
There are picnic areas here and I wished we’d brought food and drink and stayed awhile. But we didn’t, so we just followed the path around the giant pond—over rocks and curved bridges—stopping to take photos here and there, and then left.
We then wandered down the side streets and headed to the Fukagawa Fudoson temple we’d been to in December for the fire festival. We wanted to check out all the areas around the temple we’d missed.
This was in a little shrine in the neighborhood on the way to the main shrine area.
Turns out the shrine area consists of lots more than just the two main temples we'd been to in December.
There is a Sumo Memorial Stone that is a monument to honor the generations of sumo champions, and is inscribed with the names of each of the sixty-eight sumo wrestler grand champions. Modern Sumo began here in this area in 1684 and the shrine was erected to pay homage.
There are other little bits of beauty tucked away around the main shrine area.
And quite a few little restaurants and shops to pick up food-to-go and gifty food items, too, on the short walk back to the station.
It was a very pleasant afternoon, even if there weren’t many blossoms out yet. We are now home, holding our britches for another few days.