This has been a rather blah cherry blossom season. I should use the past tense – it was disappointing – because it's over now in Tokyo. A few tenacious blossoms remain, and late-blooming varieties might still surprise us, but the main act has finished.
As I've mentioned before, I stubbornly completed two walks despite the bad weather: a grey day in Kamakura, which I've already written about, and an early-morning sopping wet walk along the Meguro River. My new camera, Mycroft, still hasn't entirely forgiven me for the latter.
This river walk is one of Tokyo's most famous cherry blossom spots, but I avoided it in the past because it looked even more crowded than Chidorigafuchi. This year, when the weekend of peak bloom (満開 mankai) was accompanied by rain, I thought I'd take a chance because it would probably be less frantic. I arrived early and walked from Meguro Station along the river to Ikejiriohashi Station. Despite the rain, the last part of the river in Aobadai – the bit lined with restaurants – was getting pretty congested by the time I left at 9 am. Pancakes sold out. (See below.)
Does the river deserve its reputation? Well …
Ah, come on, you didn't really expect an unqualified yes from perpetually disgruntled me, did you?
Yes, it's beautiful, but I'd hate to be there in good weather during cherry blossom season. You wouldn't be able to breathe. There are far better alternatives in Tokyo's less glamorous suburbs: no hype and no chichi restaurants, but you can listen to uguisu, Japanese bush warblers, singing their hearts out and you can walk in cherry blossom rain in blessed solitude.
The longer I live in overcrowded Tokyo, the more misanthropic I become, and I was never exactly gregarious to start with. Sigh.