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Great friends, great times 大切な友達、幸せな時

April 22, 2010

This year’s trip back to Kansai was timed perfectly for the cherry blossom season.  The importance of this season in Japan is a difficult concept for most Westerners but cultural reasons aside, it’s just nice to see and of course partake in the tradition of hanami (flower viewing) which usually involves sitting under the cherry trees with, at the very least, bento (lunch box) and if you’re with a large group, copious amounts of alcohol.  Good times.


My Easter break this year was a little shorter than normal so the trip was a bit rushed.  That just meant that every moment needed to count.  And it did.  As usual, the first part of my trip was out West of Osaka at Kazu and Chiharu’s place.  Kazu had recently finished a couple of swords for an upcoming competition so he didn’t have much to do in the forge but I got some really good photos of him as he did some adjustments on a different blade.


Over the last few years, we’ve tried to include at least one day trip somewhere.  This year, we ventured off to Engyo-ji, a mountain-top temple complex near Himeji.  The most recent claim to fame for this complex is that this is where parts of the Tom Cruise movie, “The Last Samurai” were filmed.  Since first living in Japan, I’ve taken the rope-way (or as Kazu and Chiharu’s daughter kept saying, the ‘role play) up to the top at least 6 times.  Chiharu hadn’t been there since she was in school and Kazu, despite growing up in the area had never visited.  I got to take on the odd role of tour guide for this trip. The other thing that was lucky was that on this day, the tombs of the Honda family were open for the public to walk among.  Normally, you can only look into the area from the gate.  For those of you who have seen the movie, this is where Watanabe Ken and Tom Cruise are talking and Watanabe Ken is trying to come up with a description of cherry blossoms.  In reality, there’s no cherry tree in that area but they were the actual buildings.


Remarkably, despite being a small town, Kamigori has amazing areas of sakura (Japanese cherry trees) just perfect for wandering through or having the aforementioned hanami.  On my last day in Kamigori, the weather couldn’t have been better.  I specifically wanted to do some family portraits among the cherry blossoms and I had this image in mind of Hana in the lower branches of a tree and Kazu and Chiharu standing beside.  The search was on for the “perfect” tree.  We didn’t find it until we went to have lunch in another part of town.  At least I got the shot I was looking for.


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