I hope everyone’s doing well and has been able to enjoy the slightly warmer weather. Sakura season has come and gone, and it was a time where I felt very fortunate to be living in Japan. Even though the numbers are still not what they should be, Japan seems to have found a new normal. The states of emergency were never really strict (however small businesses and restaurants had to close sooner), no curfews were imposed and as long as you wear a mask and social distance, you’re really free to go as you please. A lot of companies have switched to a flexible rotation schedule when it comes to WFH, which means a lot of people close to me have found some mental peace after being burnt out by long office hours. Last year, I condemned the thousands of people that gathered together under the cherry blossom trees. This year, having adjusted to the new normal, I feel like the hanami parties have toned down and people enjoyed the arrival of spring in a much more intimate way. Most parks I went to, young families, small friend groups, couples, etc. were seated on a little blanket with their bentos under a cloud of pink. No huge groups, no loud drunk university students, and not as many blue sheets (which are the norm to use as your picnic blanket/sheet).
Dion and I came across this park in Utsunomiya on our way back from a shoot. It was crowded, but people definitely kept their distance. Walking up a hill, we encountered one cherry blossom tree after the other, and finally ended up in a larger area filled with these pink trees. We were in awe of how beautiful this area was. Especially after having stayed home during most of this season last year, it felt like I was rediscovering a Japan from a distant memory. The sakura season has now passed, but looking at these photos still makes me smile.