The Ethereal Essence of Sakura

Magic in the Air

Magic is probably the wrong word to use. I feel like Sakura is must more of an Eastern philosophical festival than my Western mind completely grasps. There is so much beauty in the blossoms of the cherry trees. The burst forth to the enjoyment of all and fill the previously cold world wrapped in winter with color and life and the most glorious fragrance. Their time here is so short, only about 10 days, then the blossoms fall (die?). When this happens, a cool breeze come through and the petals of these one beautiful flowers rain down to the ground. I can most compare it to snow, but at the same time, nothing like snow. In that moment, for me at least, is perhaps their most beautiful expression. They leave the world in a gracefully chaotic fall that I can only call magical.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
  • Title: The Ethereal Essence of Sakura

Zen Seclusion

Taking a Moment

Tokyo isn’t exactly a place for quiet. It’s hustle and bustle non-stop and packet to the gills with people. This is almost doubly so during Sakura! I have found though, even in the most densely populated places you can find moments of zen.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 17mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s
  • Title: Zen Seclusion

Flowering Bush in Tokyo, Japan

Spring is Around the Corner

Believe it or not, Spring is not far around the corner! Personally I can’t wait for winter to be over, but this realization got me thinking about Sakura. I am not traveling quite as much as in years past. Part of me is really sad about this, but it also makes me thing about the Buddhist meaning of this time in Japan. The cherry blossoms live only for around 10 days and they are a reminder of impermanence. Nothing can last forever, but despite inevitable mortality, spring will come again.

I found this flowering bush (or maybe tree) while viewing Sakura. The closer brighter blossom was nearly perfect, it too made me thing while circumambulating the Shinobazu Pond that while the Sakura gets all the attention, there is beauty all around.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s
  • Title: Flowering Bush in Tokyo, Japan

Sakura Blossoms in Ueno Park

Sakura

I get why the Japanese have a word specifically for cherry blossoms and another for the viewing of these wonderful flowers. My visit to Japan this last April was toward the end of the blossoming season, just at the start of the fall. There is an otherworldly beauty, not unlike snow, but different all the same, as the still cool breeze blows and petals fall, gently invade all your senses. I think for me Hanami is a perfect explosion of color after the desolateness of Winter. Wrapped, surviving in the cold, then one day the beautiful promise of Spring.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/4.5
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 31mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/800s
  • Title: Sakura Blossoms in Ueno Park

Old Guard House of Japan’s Imperial Palace

A Preferred View

This is the view of this particular guard tower I prefer. It sits in stout defense of the unseen palace behinds its wall. It, guarded by a moat that would leave attackers undefended in crossing. The think is just outside the frame is a mass of new Japan. Big buildings and construction equipment abound. Behind is a massive parking lot. I don’t show you these. This photo looks old, but was taken in 2016. I guess in many ways our fortresses and our photographs aren’t unlike ourselves.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 11 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 30mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/50s
  • Title: Old Guard House of Japan's Imperial Palace

Lanterns on Display for Sakura

Cherry Trees!

I have wanted to visit Japan in late March or early April some time for the Sakura. There are numerous places in the world that have flowering trees. Our own state is gorgeous with dogwood, redbud and apricot trees, but getting to experience Hanami (flower viewing) in person is something a bit otherworldly. This location is in Ueno Park, a part of Tokyo I had not yet visited. Lanterns had been strung to keep the viewing going even after dark and there are hundreds of people and groups having a picnic under the falling petals.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 23mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
  • Title: Lanterns on Display for Sakura

Traditional and Modern Tools in Japan

Turning Japanese

If it seems like I have Japan on the brain lately it’s because I DO! I am headed to Japan in a few months for the Cherry Blossom season! I have wanted to be in Japan during this time for a long time and only missed it by a few weeks in 2015. Hopefully this year I will get lucky since the time from bloom to fall is VERY short!

This is a collection of tools used by the caretakers of Meiji Jingu. I love how there is a mix of traditional brooms and modern tools as well.

Photo Technical Info

Traditionally Dressed Japanese Kids at Meiji Shrine

Finding History

There is an old adage in Hollywood traditional ascribed to W.C. Fields, but universally known, “Never work with animals or children”. To those not acting however, they are like gold! What could be more adorable than two small children all dressed up in traditional garb to visit Meiji Jingu in Tokyo.

I am always looking for some elements of time or even timelessness, contrasts between the old and new. Does this work in that sense?

Photo Technical Info

White Japanese Chrysanthemum

Huge Flowers

My mother is the gardener in the family. I realized very quickly after moving into my own home, some years ago that I prefer to see gardens rather than participate in their cultivation. Visiting the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, something I most always do when visiting Tokyo I found these Chrysanthemums. This particular white was much bigger than a softball or my hand. I imagine it takes a great deal of patience to grow a flower this large and beautiful.

Photo Technical Info

Tokyo Sunrise

Big, Big City

The sunrise endlessly is interesting to me, it’s just SO incredibly difficult for me to get up for. There are two problems. First, I am not a morning person, though this is frequently aided by jet-lag. Hawaii is a great example…I am usually awake by 3 or 4 am easy. The second problem is breakfast. If you want to eat at the hotel (one of my economizing tips) you have a problem. Generally there is not a pre-dawn buffet and if you get out, it’s often difficult to make it back in time to partake of the (in my case) free food! Sure this gives you a great opportunity to sample cafe’s, but I tend to like to save that for an economical lunch (free breakfast, econimical lunch, then a dinner wow). This sunrise was captured from the hotel breakfast! Since I was on a really high floor, it was the perfect compromise!

Photo Technical Info