Monday, March 30, 2015

Ueno Park Sakura Season

Ok...the countdown is on!  What countdown, you ask.  Well, I'll tell you what countdown...we are counting down the days until the last few petals fall from the sakura trees.  Once the buds pop open on the trees you only have about a week or so before the petals fall and the trees turn from pink/white/dark pink to green leaves.  

This is why we put our schoolbooks back on the shelf this morning, packed our bags, and made our way to Tokyo.  From Yokosuka Chuo to Shinagawa and then to Ueno Stations, we made it to the park around noon.  We quickly found a spot to sit and eat our lunch.  I noticed at this point that there were a LOT of people here!  But, I wasn't too worried.  My plan was to just walk up and down the street a time or two, take pictures and then head home.  After all, it's Monday and the zoo is closed on Mondays, so I didn't have to worry about that five hour excursion.  

Not so, silly traveller!  It's spring break for Japanese schools.  Which means, the zoo was open.  I guess this is payback for me tricking the kids about the hike last week.  Oh well, we had fun, we were exhausted, but we had fun!

For all those who live near Tokyo and are reading this blog....GO TO UENO AND SEE THE SAKURA!!!!!  It is an ABSOLUTE must!!!!!  I haven't seen anything like it EvEr!!  

The initial view is beautiful, but I've seen groupings like this before around Kamakura.  We found the road we wanted to walk down, but the kids were intent on getting into that zoo, so we just made a slight detour under a few of the trees.  

My pictures do not do this road justice at all.  I can't even adequately explain how amazingly beautiful this place was!  It was like walking four feet under a layer of white clouds.  And, oh, when the wind blew and the petals slowly fell...WATCH OUT!  People started "ooh"ing and "aah"ing, and then they pushed people out of the way, some almost whacked others in the head with those infuriating selfie stick things.

There were people in lines on each side of the street with their hanami blankets spread out, their snacks, drinks, etc. all laid out, laughing and relaxing.  There was even a special spot with chairs, made by students at Tokyo University, for you to sit on, but only for one hour, so others can enjoy a leisurely seat under the trees.

I found this white sakura tree inside the zoo.  

I wasn't too excited about going to the zoo with the five million other kids today, but it was fun watching the kids get so excited running around.  Garytt could not wait to get to each exhibit to see what exciting creature he could see next.  

I'm not going to post all the pictures from the zoo part of our day, I've already done that a few times.  But, I will highlight a few moments that were fun.

The otters are always fun, but today they extremely feisty!  These two were wrestling pretty ferociously.  While the other two ran circles around the enclosure and then performed a perfect 10.0 dive!

Mackenzie was looking forward to seeing the owls.  And, this guy treated her to about a dozen long, loud "WWWHHHOOOOOO" 's.  

Momma gorilla sheltering baby gorilla from the hundreds of eyes looking on through the window.

It took a lot of running around to all, I mean ALL, the windows to the lion enclosure for us to finally get a good look at this fella.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, 
mighty mighty king of the bush is he, 
laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra, 
gay your life must be!

Finally, we got a quick glimpse of the polar bear taking a quick splash.

From here I told the kids we were done.  It was getting late and we needed to head back toward home.  So, we walked out the exit and found ourselves back under the sakura canopy.  We made a right and just walked in awe at the trees.  Well, I walked in awe at the trees.  Mackenzie sulked because she wanted a toy that I told her I wasn't spending that much money on it.  Garytt was pouting because he wanted an ice cream but I refused to stand in a 50 deep line to get an ice cream.  I, however, just ignored them and walked in awe...and then bumped into someone, and then got on the wrong side of the street and started walking against traffic, but I couldn't figure out how to get myself back over to the right side, as people pushed and people looked at me like I was an idiot because I was going the wrong way, and then I rudely pushed my way across about ten lines of traffic to get to a side shoot and take a breath.  Shew!  We stood on the side of the road for a few minutes before reentering the massive crowd.

Finally, we made our way back out to open area, back toward the train station, and then onto our next crowded excursion for the day...the train through Tokyo.  It was standing room only until we made it to Keikyu Kawasaki Station and as two ladies got up a very nice guy held the seats so we could get from the other side of the car to sit.  I was incredibly grateful since just before this station Mackenzie broke down in tears with a headache.  It took fifteen minutes, but the headache subsided, she rested her head, Boy fell asleep and it was a quiet ride to Yokosuka.  

All in all, we did about five miles of walking today.  And, even through the tears and the tantrums, we had an amazing time!