Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hanami for Hana

Cherry blossoms all over Japan are slowly beginning to bloom and sweep across Japan in a pink fever frenzy. I love it! There's something about hanami that is just so....magical.

Despite winter's lingering, spring's hanami is my favourite Japanese season. It literally translates to "viewing/looking at flowers (sakura = cherry blossoms)" (hana = flower, mi = to see, look). Plum blossoms have already started blooming and are usually darker in colour and have more petals.

As Hana will be leaving Japan very soon, Leigh organised a Farewell Hana Hanami picnic (looking at Hana & looking at the cherry blossoms) in Maruyama Park, a favourite hanami spot in Kyoto, with a famous bigass tree (it was indeed bigger than a normal Japanese house so yes, I was impressed).

Leigh and Miwako headed there earlier, 500 yen hugeass blue tarp in hand, to secure some prime ground. I was meant to go with them too but last night's missing-of-the-last-train incident saw me getting back to my place at 9am. Gomen Leigh-kun.

I ended up arriving with Alison and the park was beautiful. The blossoms were not in full bloom yet but they were still such a sight. We sat by a little pond and ate way too much. Miwako's homemade sandwiches were so good! If I had to have a Japanese wife, Miwako and Hana would be right on top of my list.

Sammy-san: poster boy for ocha

Miwako & Sam (in 'blue steel' mode)

Hana & me

The park was full of hanami-goers, blue tarps, food stalls and people strolling around the gardens enjoying the flowers. But there was this one foreigner dude busking with his guitar and amp, singing loud, country music? Random. As Leigh put it best, "If there was anyone here disturbing the wa, it would definately be that dude."

Wa is the term for 'harmony' and plays a big part in Japanese culture and society. Wa explains the 'keeping peace within the group' and 'don't rock the boat' mentality.

Ayu (a type of sweet, river fish - my dictionary says 'trout'?) roasted on hot coals

Then we headed back to Osaka and went to....SPA WORLD!!!

Spa World is this huge place with lots of hot baths and is relaxation heaven. The top floor has water slides, pool and outdoor jacuzzis (this is mixed and you wear your bathers). Another floor is the 'Europe' themed baths with european styled baths (for males only this month). It had a red wine bath, salt sauna, different scented/flavoured baths and an 'Atlantis' inspired bath with gummy sharks swimming around in aquariums. Can't wait to check it out next month when it switches to women only.

This month the women got the other floor which is 'Asia' themed with outdoor onsens, Bali style baths, Japanese wooden baths (sake or apple), salt sauna, soy milk baths, body massage baths and a place where you scoop watery mud (smelt so good - like lavender) and cover your body then rinse it off.

Spa World also has a gym, room full of reclining massage chairs, restaurant floor, arcade centre, beauty salon and massage parlour. Big plus is that it is open 24 hours - perfect idea after a late night in Osaka and you've missed the last train.

Will definately be going there again next month!


At 10:02 pm, Blogger Heidi's World said...

the roast fish look weird. but i can't help wondering if they are tasty. hehe... did u try it?

At 12:39 am, Blogger sy said...

hehe disturbing the "wa" thats hilarious!! what a random busker..busking + sakura.. jsut doesn't make sense

the sakura still look really pretty when they're half bloomed..

At 10:20 pm, Blogger Christine said...

heidi's world - That's exactly what I was thinking when I saw them. I just had to try it... although the weekend after. Nice but too bony.

sy - Did you see him when you went? I didn't see him the weekend after, but it was in the evening. Yeah, hanami is definitely my favourite season.


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