Monday, March 31, 2014

Our last day of sighteseeing

Today we saw sakura (cherry blossoms). Everyone in Japan loves cherry blossom season, and we agree - they are such beautiful flowers.They only bloom for a very short time. We were worried that they would not be open before we had to leave. We were so lucky that they bloomed just in time for us to see them!  
In Japan, the school year begins in April, so often the first day of school takes place under the blooming cherry blossoms. Imagine walking to school under these wonderful flowers!   
 We went to the park to enjoy hanami, or flower viewing. It is a custom to have a party under the beautiful cherry blossoms. People have been enjoying hanami parties for more than a thousand years.   
 It is very lovely to see the cherry blossoms next to a river. This park only has a few trees, but some big parks have hundreds of cherry trees. However, we think that even one tree by itself is beautiful.   
 Also in the park are these cute statues – they are tanuki. Tanuki are forest animals. It is very rare to see one in the wild because they are so shy. But these guys were really friendly and let us play with them.   After we watched the flowers for awhile, we went shopping. It is traditional in Japan to buy O-miyage for your friends and family when you go on a trip. O-miyage is Japanese for souvenir.   
What shall we bring back for Johannes? I wish we could bring him some Japanese sake. These bottles are much bigger than us, though. They would be too heavy to carry.   
 We could bring him an Awa Dancer… Tokushima has a big festival every summer. It is very famous in Japan. Here is a picture of one of the dancers. It looks very complicated!   
These two lovely ladies made out of bamboo taught us the Awa dance. What do you think? Are we ready to perform this August?   
We met two backpackers wandering Tokushima like we are! But, they are only backpacking on the island of Shikoku. There is a Buddhist pilgrimage route on the island, and it starts in Tokushima. People can hike to 88 temples, following in the footsteps of a monk named Kobo Daishi. It is very common to see backpackers here! If we stay here another two months, we could hike the route, too! But, it is time for us to leave Tokuhsima. Tomorrow we pack up our backpacks and head back to Germany.  
Looking at cherry blossoms was a great way to spend our last day in Tokushima!  

See you soon! 
Hans and Paul

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