Shinjuku + My First Hanami
Almost done with my Japan posts, and almost ready for my next trip! For a moment, napaisip ako if this impulsive flight is a good idea, but after creating the itinerary last night, excited na ako and namiss ko na agad mag travel! What to use as Singapore personal hashtag kaya, haha! Hindi na siya fit like #Taiwanagon and #Japanagon! :D
Anyway, this post is dedicated to Shinjuku.
Right after my adventure commuting alone to the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, I headed to Shinjuku to end the night and meet up with Gervin - a fellow blogger and Thomasian. Although we had common friends from blogging and UST, I think this was the first time we met!? I was walking around the mall connected to the Shinjuku Station (Lumine) while waiting for Gervin who had a long day at work, when I saw a Laduree, a place famous for their macarons (the best daw).
I decided to stop-by and rest and try their treats.
To me, they are okay naman.
When Gervin came, it was time for dinner. We had ramen in an indie restaurant in Tokyo, which for me was a legit experience! We ate with locals, mostly Japanese businessmen.
My vegetable ramen! First time that a Japanese restaurant granted my request (I usually just set aside the meat). Thank you Gervin for this treat!
While Osaka and Kyoto weather was freezing, I realized how the cool breeze in Tokyo felt just right. For Gervin, fun doesn't end after dinner, he also toured me around the city! Saw the famous Robot Restaurant:
Tried the Purikura in an arcade:
Purikura is a Japanese photo booth ala neo print where you can edit the photo before they print it out - from backgrounds, to stamps, texts, and stickers, and even your facial features (bigger eyes, pointy chin, smoother skin)! Purikura is fun and more interactive.
My favorite part was our hours of walk around the almost-empty streets of Shinjuku. Gervin and I talked about blogging, blogs, and his life in Japan. It was an interesting night, and I really appreciate a "take home" from a conversation. I learned a lot from my new friend.
The next day, I went back to Shinjuku with my sister to enjoy a morning Hanami.
So I learned that Shinjuku literally means "new lodge". With the busiest station in the world, Shinjuku houses Tokyo's major businesses, shopping centers, and government office. It is an interesting place at night, as well as in the morning.
Guards checked bags as we entered the Shinjuku Park... No alcoholic drinks allowed!
Aside from locals and tourists, the park was also filled with professional photographers capturing the evanescent sakura blossoms for their magazine or TV show. I learned that these flower trees last for around 2 weeks max only! That's why the season is really extra special.
My attempt on sakura photography, taken with my iPhone 6 camera:
So, people flock the parks during spring for "hanami" or "cherry blossom viewing". Hanami is an enjoyable Japanese outdoor activity where friends, families, and colleagues gather with food and drinks and hold picnic parties together - sakura trees as backdrop.
Dahil ako ay medyo chismosa este curious, I checked out the meals of families next to us. Some really prepared bento sets for their kids (with neatly lined sushi and steaks), while others have store-bought food packs that look both cute and delish! I learned that food stores in Japan really sell Hanami meal sets during the season - even paper plates, cups, utensils and mats with cherry blossom prints.
Aside from holding a feast, it was also a perfect time to hangout with your amigas.
Parang pang Japanese cartoons!
To them, sakura photographs are too mainstream... PAINTING the cherry blossoms is hipster! Haha! Galing!
I learned from Gervin and Ate's friend that holding a hanami is not only for daytime. At night, the activity is called yozakura or "night sakura". Imagine the same park at night, lined with flower trees that are illuminated by paper lanterns and even the distant moonlight. Dramarama! The best is to go to a park with body of water, the trees' reflections are said to be surreal and dreamy. Ate's friend told us it almost made her sing "Moon River" out loud, haha! Something to experience next time!
Read more of my posts for: Japan 2015.