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All is Buenos in Ueno

March 14, 2010

Today I come blogging in sunshine from my balcony, with a panorama of higgedly-piggedly rooftops and criss-crossed electric cables. Having come through the brief flurry of Tokyo snow (read: slush), it seems the season has plunged into Spring proper. The news predicts “開花” (kaika; Blooming – in this instance, referring to the blossoming of sakura) will hit the city on the 23rd of this month – looking foward to it! Already here and there, are splatters of colour, the blooming of ume (plums) preceding its more famous bretheren.

Taking advantage of the weather’s good turn a couple of days ago I went, with a friend, to Ueno Park. My first visit was a hurried scuttle, having drank far too much coffee/water!, under a cloak of overcast skies. This time, with sunshine and company, was much, much better.

At one of the temples I got my first omikuji, a fortune-telling “paper” as well as a mamori of sorts (it came with the second omikuji). The first one required I shake this wooden box full of thin sticks. Each stick has a number written on it, which corresponds to a certain omikuji. Mines was “三十三” (303 -hey, it’s the magic number!). The second one was simply a matter of sticking your hand into a box full of wrapped omikuji and picking one (with each a random charm – I got the waving cat, 招き猫. Maneki-neko are symbolic for ushering in good fortune – the waving gesture they make is the Japanese “beckoning” – most cloesly associated with fortune of a material kind: money). I’ll be having a crack at translating my fortunes later – people who get predominately bad fortunes tie their omikuji up on the grounds of the shrine, so there might be a hasty return to Ueno on the cards…

We actually also went to the Science Museum post-park touring – given the glorious setting, I went a bit snap happy, so since posting the day entirely would be bursting-at-the-seams awesome, the museum’s getting a post all of  its own! Huzzah!

The days in-between were spent:

  • Getting to know the neighbourhood by exploring the crooked backstreets surrounding our dormitory
  • Exploring the local graveyard, which turned out to be far bigger than I thought
  • Taking photos of the blossoms, Yagami river in the sunshine (at which time I also discovered a convenient sunbathing spot)
  • Taking photos of quirky, cute name plaques; trying to take good photos of the crazy riverside residing feline population

Well, I am feeling gloriously sunned now – maybe time for some more trekking.

Guess what guys? Spring is finally here!!

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