One of the strangest (and luckiest) things about being back in New Zealand is that when I arrived in Japan at the start of the year it was spring there, and now that I'm home it's spring again here! After what was apparently a warm winter, the cherry blossoms around Dunedin are in early bloom, bringing back memories of those first few weeks in Japan, drinking chu-hi at Osaka Castle and going on trips to Kyoto, making new friends and enjoying the hanami season. Last week, thanks to the Japanese Department, we had our very own hanami party at Otago University.
Clocktower and Cherry Blossoms
We had rain, hail and snow earlier in the week, but luckily it was a beautiful day, and the sakura had survived the harsh weather. There were probably over a hundred people who gathered under the university's cherry blossom trees. We listened to the Koto and Taiko groups perform traditional Japanese music live, and enjoyed sushi... as well as chips, coke and muffins (proper Japanese food is slightly hard to find here). The party attracted quite a lot of attention from students walking to class, who seemed slightly bemused by all the people wearing yukata, dancing around, and worshipping the cherry blossoms. I was excited because I finally got an opportunity to wear a yukata my friends in Hiroshima had given me five years ago, which I forgot to take with me to Japan this time.
Yukata ladies... that's me on the left (ignore my shoes)!
It might not quite have had the glory or drunkenness of a hanami party in Japan, but the sakura were there, and that was all that mattered. It was awesome to be able to experience a little slice of Japanese culture right here in Dunedin.