Ueno Park Hanami and Ai’s Birthday Party in Tokyo

We are so thankful to be in Japan for the cherry blossom season which we planned of course and we want to fully enjoy the beauty. The Japanese people love their cherry blossoms and they have a custom of having picnics under the cherry blossoms which they call a hanami. They bring large mats, tables and lots of food and drink to just enjoy the season. The parks are jam packed with people, food stalls and trash disposal bins. Trash disposal is very hard to find usually but many special bins are available during sakura(cherry blossom) season. We have already had one small hanami with Michiko which we posted previously. We are also planning on visiting Kevin, Ai, Lilly and Keitaro. Kevin is the son of Jim’s cousin Sylvia who grew up in Kenya where her father was a medical missionary. Jim and his family lived in Ethiopia and met up several times with Sylvia and her family in Kenya for safaris. Jim and Sylvia have remained close over the years and she lived at his home in North Carolina for one year of high school. We are so delighted to have so many interactions with her son Kevin and his family.

Wednesday 22 March we decided to have our own Hanami in Ueno Park. We chose to walk the 8 miles to the park and brought a picnic lunch that we carried in our back packs. Oh how the Camino Pilgrimage in Spain has changed us! Walks and back packs are a central core to our lives now.🥰
This lovely and spacious park was established in 1873 on lands formerly belonging to the temple of Kan’ei-ji . It is one of Japan’s oldest public parks and is known for its Zoo (on our to do list), many museums and spectacular cherry blossoms in the spring.
It did not disappoint us today as the cherry blossoms were at their peak.
Many fun boats to chose from for a ride in the lake of the park. We elected not to take a boat ride as we have a very busy day.
It was the perfect temperature for our hanami.
We had sandwiches and wine for our picnic lunch and laid down on our official hanami mat (bought at the Don Quijote Store) under the Sakura just like a local which we always strive to do wherever we are.
More blossoms in the park.
Mid afternoon we took a 45 minute train ride to Machida where Jim’s cousin Kevin lives to celebrate his wife Ai’s Birthday. Machida is in the western portion of Tokyo. It is a lovely suburban location away from the chaos of downtown Tokyo. Kevin met us at the station and we walked through the town to his house.
On our way we passed Shounji Temple which has a Buddhist rock garden and very sweet pond with Koi.
It was so special for us to be invited to Ai’s Birthday dinner celebration. We just fell in love with this sweet, kind family and feel blessed to be related and to have had the pleasure to meet and spend time with them in Japan.
Their adorable daughter Lily took this photo. We hope they can come to Kyoto to spend more time with us before we leave Japan.

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