Petals and Other Fleeting Moments

meguro river in bloom 1

Catch it quick because it’s only going to last another week. One strong wind or a heavy rain can end it in an afternoon.

meguro river in bloom at night

Once a year Japan consummates its obsession over cherry blossoms. There have been months of cherry blossom blooming forecasts and updates on the news. People make itineraries to squeeze in as much cherry blossom viewing as possible. College kids and seniors arrive early in the morning at parks to stake out and defend a small picnic area under the blooms. Some of the larger popular parks are crammed with a patchwork of plastic blue tarps filled with revelers drinking beer and eating festival food. The paths are lined with food stalls and if you’re lucky, there may be some dancing and entertainment.

meguro river in bloom at night

It’s a fantastic time. Which is the reason T and I decided to spend our Spring vacation in and around Tokyo this year, instead of traipsing around some tropical locale as usual.

A good tour would balance the famous sites with lesser known places. Ueno Park probably has Tokyo’s best mass display. For the finest night time viewing, walk around the Imperial Palace. It has trees illuminated for a dramatic viewing. Yoyogi Park has the biggest picnic party atmosphere. For more space, you can visit the stately and well-kept Shinjukukyoen. But my favorite spot is the Meguro River in Nakameguro, accessible on the Hibiya and Toyoko lines.

open hedgehogs

Like most rivers in large cities, the Meguro River is nothing more than a concrete-lined stream, but it’s lined with cherry trees with branches that droop down towards the water. The surface of the stream is lightly salted with pink delicate petals. The lanterns illuminate the petals on the trees at night for a romantic cozy ambiance.

Nakameguro is an artsy neighborhood peopled with bohemian designers and artists. The streets along the Meguro River are crammed with inviting cafes, chic restaurants, over-priced salons, and funky boutiques. It has a nice used furniture store full of designer cast-offs and a cool bookstore with lots of odd English books. And whenever I visit I make a point of getting a latte at the Café Madeleine. We happen to run into some friends there.

cafe madeleine

Run out of a the back of a Citroen, the coffees are hand crafted by the humble barista (who has never been to France) in the cramped back seat. I recommend the Madeleine latte, which has an intriguing blend of spices. It takes about 7 minutes to make one. And it comes with a chocolate.

Then continue strolling along the river, contemplating how fleeting and delicate life is.

red bridge and lanterns


7 thoughts on “Petals and Other Fleeting Moments”

  1. Beautiful pictures! You are totally right Nakameguro is defintely a good spot! Unfortunately I went there a little too late… still nice though and the atmosphere is really chilled!… next time I’ll try the Café Madeleine!

  2. cool! i’m so glad you were able to check it out. too bad about this sudden storm. i was counting on enjoying the cherry blossoms for a few more days.

  3. hey i’m from germany but i’m turkish.these pictures are very beautiful and awesome.i wan’t so travel to japan very much 🙂 i hope some day i will do this. it’s on of my biggest dreams:)

    1. thanks saliha! i hope you make it here too. but i know a lot of people dying to visit turkey and europe, so consider yourself lucky too.

  4. Wow, they really are beautiful pictures. Would be even better to see it in the flesh. Are they the same type of Cherry Blossoms that were given to America as a present? I can’t quite remember the story but there is meant to be one river in America that they were all planted by and they looked pretty as well.

  5. Your second photograph of the blossoms was so beautiful, I made a necklace in those colours. There is something perfect about that combination of slate grey, steel blue, peach, pink, amethyst, purple, pearl-white and silver that ignites the senses, as though you can smell the freshness of the air after the rain and feel the coolness of the season against the skin. The natural lines of the cherry boughs with their startling bursts of pink break up the rigid uniformity of the canal and its charcoal-dark cement. Thank you for the beautiful scene and the inspiration!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s