The cherry blossoms are back, marking the beginning of spring and the end of my beloved winter. In spring, bugs come back alive and the sun starts to sprout its awful heat again... At least I can start working on a tan again, but that’s considered ugly in Japan anyway, so what’s the point really? Unlike me, most people love the arrival of spring and go out en masse to celebrate and admire the cherry blossoms. Some students organized such a cherry blossom viewing party (a.k.a. Ohanami) in Bampaku Park today, and even though I don’t like the weather I do like parties with my students.
Bampaku park is famous for a peculiar 70 meter high tower created by Taro Okamoto, for the 1970 Expo in Osaka. Apparently, after completion a Japanese writer associated the tower, whose tip was projecting out of the building it was housed in at the time, with an erect penis breaking through a sliding paper door, which he read about in a Japanese novel. The name of the novel was The Season of the Sun, which prompted Taro Okamoto to name his tower The Tower of the Sun, how beautifully meaningful. The building housing the tower was removed in 1979, but the tower remains. The tower is more creepy than beautiful, but in anyway you regard it it’s impressive, either as a meaningful piece of art or simply for being that huge and scary, I mean it does have three faces and none of them looks friendly. To me it feels kind of out of place in such a nice park but the Japanese really love it.
We found ourselves a nice spot under the cherry blossom trees, laid out a huge blue plastic sheet, took our shoes off (after all this is Japan) and sat down to be amazed by all the beautiful food our students brought with them. We were told it was kind of like a potluck-party so Yasu and I brought a fruit platter and a bunch of chocolate croissants, but we kind of felt ashamed by our simple and non-creative purchase, when we realized the amount of time and effort must have gone into making those bento boxes the students prepared. They were so beautiful to look at and of course it tasted great too, but our food was eaten too, so I guess it wasn’t that bad.