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Hanami people: why living in Japan is on my bucket list

Hanami in Ueno Park Tokyo

Hanami at the Ueno Park in Tokyo (2012). Cherry Blossom fun in the Ueno Park in Tokyo where crowds gathered to celebrate Hanami.


A recent blogpost by Thewallinna and other creatures about how she misses Hanami in springtime Japan, reminded me about my own fascination with all things Japanese. I don’t exactly know where it comes from, but even as a child I was incredibly curious about faraway Japan. In 2012 I had the immense pleasure of finally travelling to Tokyo.


So living in Japan is on my bucket list. Would I like to stay in Japan indefinitely? I don’t think so. But for a year or thereabouts, I would really like to experience its culture a bit more profoundly than I did in 2012. I only stayed for a week, but it’s left a huge impression. The sentiment that stayed with me most is admiration. And what I admire most about the Japanese is their elegance.


Ueno Park Tokyo (2012)

Crowds and Trees at Ueno Park Tokyo (2012)


Hanami is one of those elegant traditions. What a wonderfully sad and yet delicious thing! How beautiful the cherry trees looked beside the ugly greyness of Tokyo buildings. The funny thing is that we arrived in Tokyo from the States, where I had attended the Renaissance Society of America Conference in Washington. And of course, if you say Washington in March, you say Cherry Blossom Festival. The trees simply looked magnificent.


Yet I have to admit, for me personally, it didn’t match the atmosphere around Ueno Park. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Japanese families and friends drinking and eating under the trees. The many food stalls at Shinobazu Pond just looked incredibly enticing. M. was with me, only 4 years old at the time, but she absolutely loved Japan and the Japanese. She’s been asking to go back ever since.


Food stalls at Ueno Park

The food stalls at Ueno Park Tokyo.


So I really do miss it, but of course that’s not the reason I want to live there. It’s actually quite hard to pin down my exact reasons. The special relationship the Japanese seem to have with food? The general feeling of respect you seem to pick up everywhere? The quest for perfection, however impossible to achieve, that still seems to drive a lot of their actions, from the elevator girl at the famous Isetan department store to the white gloved taxi driver?


All I know is that I have the feeling I have something to learn there. Let’s hope the opportunity arises for me to spend some more time there! In the meantime, I try to enjoy Hanami at home in Belgium, even though there is not a cherry blossom in sight…


  1. Oh, you would love it in Japan! If you don’t plan on living in Japan for long, one-two years is a perfect timeframe to stay in this wonderful country!

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