The Hanami was Nice, But…

One of my first posts a few years ago – The Ugliness of Japanese Cherry-Blossom Viewing – encapsulated my opinion of the common cherry-blossom viewing experience in Japan, so I never would have imagined how wonderful it was this past weekend around here, despite the crowds. In fact, as I wrote in Cherry-Blossom Joie de Vivre in Kyoto, the sense of enjoyment was actually heightened by the crowds, a sort of beneficial mob mentality that kept a smile on everyone's face, as if we were all let in on some kind of beautiful secret that bound us together.

It wasn't enjoyable for everyone all the time, of course. It was decidedly unfun if you had to drive (which I didn't).

Traffic Waits Along Nioomon St -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 190 mm — 1/1500 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Traffic Waits Along Nioomon St
Waiting To Enter an Underground Garage -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Waiting To Enter an Underground Garage
Some Found Ways To Enjoy Despite the Traffic Rickshaw Ride in Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Some Found Ways To Enjoy Despite the Traffic
Rickshaw Ride in Kyoto, Japan

It also wasn't fun if you encountered one of the (surprisingly few) assholes with a cigarette.

Inconsiderate Jerk -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/350 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Inconsiderate Jerk

It probably also wasn't fun if you were stuck inside working, washing dishes at a cafe....

Enjoying Lunch on the Terrace and dirtying a lot of dishes -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Enjoying Lunch on the Terrace
and dirtying a lot of dishes

It was also decidedly unfun if you visited a convenience store nearby, because inside the crowds were oppressive, like what one hears of rush-hour trains in Tokyo. I stopped by the local 7-11 on Saturday morning, and was shocked how crowded it was. You couldn't walk while inside; the best you could do was shuffle or waddle. This, despite the store having set up some registers and stands in the parking lot to directly sell the most common things (bento lunches, bottled tea, etc.), taking pressure off the crowds inside.

I was chatting with the owner today as I picked some ice coffee, and commented about the crowds. He said that on Saturday, out of the 12,000 7-11s in the country, his was ranked #3 (in sales, I assume). Wow.

Continued here...


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