I tangibly smelt spring for the first time this week, walking home along the Kanda River and catching lavender-like hints from the tiny flowers that have started to bloom on the shrubs that line the banks. It has been unexpectedly cold after a gradual warming up that lasted until a few days ago, but the blossoms are already out and proclaiming spring in spite of it.
Just as the trees are adding new colors and convolutions to themselves, there is a spurt of construction going on all over Tokyo as well – as if not to be outdone by nature. The barren land five minutes walk from where I live that had nothing but knee high grass, a scattering of small abandoned houses, and a few trees has, in the past two weeks, suddenly been transformed into a great black expanse of tarmac that has been kerbed, painted, with a big circular island of instant shrubs. Already it is almost impossible to recreate in your mind the landscape there as it was only a month ago.
There are several new apartment blocks now under construction in my neighborhood, and the area where I work, Yotsuya, is also liberally planted with cranes. The accommodation construction could be to do with the fact that April, being the beginning of the new financial year, is when the new influx of young workers converge on Tokyo from universities all over the country.
The second shot is of a riverbank in front of my apartment. No construction going on around the river, but the river itself is testament to Japan’s addiction to it: the utter lack of the grass and earth that the word ‘riverbank’ usually conjures up calling the very name ‘river’ into question. However, for two weeks while the cherry blossoms live their myriad glorious little lives, the human ugliness simply melts away.
Japan Tokyo Yotsuya Cherry Blossom Shinjuku
Watches from Japan
Saturday, April 01, 2006