Osaka Mint Bureau Sakura Lane

13:11

*coughs from all the figurative dust that has settled on this blog since I last logged into Blogspot*

What can I say? I only feel like writing in here when I feel like I have 'material'. Luckily, I have enough material this month for about ten blog posts!

*perks up* 

Last month, I decided to treat myself to a nearly three-week long trip in Japan, from April 12th to April 30th. April is MY BIRTHDAY MONTH, and I get to do whatever the heck I want to in April, because MONTH OF MY BIRTH.

Well, at least, that's my excuse.

Anyway! Onwards to reminiscing about my trip to Japan. Please feel free to join me in wishing that I am back there on holiday.

***

"I love Japan so much that I am willing to sleep in a cupboard."

With this trip, I can finally lay claim to that sentence that I did not think I would ever say. I could afford to stay so long in Japan only mostly because I had a friend who offered me a place near Sannomiya, Kobe. Now, most Japanese apartments are pretty small, and this apartment already had three people living in it.

Being an addition, I could either choose to sleep in a) a cupboard which was about three inches longer in length compared to my height, or b) the living room.

Now, most people would choose the living room, but I did not want to wake up continuously due to the to-ing and fro-ing of people going to work in the morning. They chucked the futon (mattress) inside the cupboard, stuck a blanket and pillow on top, and it looked cozy enough, so...

A cupboard was my sleeping abode for most of my stay in the Kansai area. Thank goodness for being a small Asian female young adult is all I have to say. Hey, at least I am not sleeping in the streets.

"I love Japan so much that I am willing to sleep on the streets..."

Okay, maybe my love for Japan is not that great yet.

For my trip this time, I had a few agendas on my mind. One of the more important ones was... going to see cherry blossoms/ sakura.

However, I was in the Kansai area in the middle of April. All the Tokyo/ Kansai blooms mostly bloom around the end of March and beginning of April. It was the 13th of April. Scenic cherry blossoms places in the Kansai area, like Himeji castle or Osaka castle, were out of blooms by then.

I was getting quite desperate researching about cherry blossoms places in the months prior to my trip. I had the dilemma of not wanting to be caught in crowds during the school holidays (early April), but also wanting to see cherry blossoms.

I then found this on Japan Guide, and read this paragraph.

"But as much as for coins, the Osaka Mint Bureau is famous for the more than 300 cherry trees, which stand on its premises. Over 100 cherry varieties, mostly later blooming yae-zakura trees (with more than five petals per blossom) can be viewed on the premises. Every year, the gates to the cherry garden are specially opened to the general public during a one week period in mid April."

Mid April.

Mid April.

Mid April.

Hey, that's when I'd be somewhat near Osaka (from Kobe, it takes around 30 minutes to get to Osaka)!

The Osaka Mint Bureau decides each March when to open their sakura lane to the public, so it's pretty much a game of luck for people who have booked their flights early. Luckily for me, this year they were opened from April 9th to April 15th. I flew in on the 12th, and of course hurried to see it on April 13th. It was a MUST-do on my lax itinerary.

I researched how to get to Tenmabashi Station (on the Keihan Main Line/ Tanimachi Subway Line), and when I got to the station, it was pretty much a breeze to find the Osaka Mint Bureau.

The sakura lane is apparently a big deal - in fact, a much bigger deal than I expected. There were signs all over the station directing people to the "造幣局"/ Osaka Mint Bureau. Even if you could not read Japanese, there were scores of old Japanese people/ tourists who were there to view the cherry blossoms. You could simply follow them along the road.

I walked on a bridge, and my excitement grew as I saw this sight from the bridge.


I have only seen cherry blossoms in pictures and television, since I was never in Japan for spring before. The sight of those pink trees made my heart thump a little faster, in anticipation of what was to come.

And boy, what was to come was a thing to cherish in my memory indeed.

I got to the entrance of the sakura lane. The lane is only one way, so please ensure you do not end up at the exit! It will be pretty hard to end up at the exit due to all the directions they have, but apparently it has happened before.

The best part about this lane, by the way, is that IT IS COMPLETELY FREE TO VIEW. I've seen flower exhibitions charge exorbitant amounts of money in Japan, so props to the Osaka Mint Bureau for opening up private space for the public FOR FREE.

The unfortunate part will be that, as it is a lane, there will be no hanami-viewing picnics under the trees. This was fine by me, since I had nobody to picnic with anyway. I just wanted to see cherry blossoms, and see them I did indeed.

A gorgeous view of pink in varying degrees greeted me as I stood at the entrance, along with other colours like white and green. I was taking it all in slowly, tears threatening to prick my eyes as I looked in.

I was in Japan looking at cherry blossoms. 

Another thing off the bucket list, checked.


How does a sight like this not take your breath away?

I lingered at the beginning of the lane, taking selfies (as I was by myself), and asking other people to help me take pictures. Lots of tourists were there, with this one Hong Kong woman exclaiming that she had never seen cherry blossoms so beautiful before.

It was a test in languages for me too, because when people tried to get me to take their pictures, I got to bust out several of the languages I knew when they tried to mime what they wanted - Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, or English. The look of "Wow, you speak my language!" on the other person's face was satisfying to see for me. Multi-lingualism rocks, thank you very much.


As you can see, that's me looking absolutely blissed out surrounded by my favourite colour. Oh, and also trying to not look sleepy like I felt. Plane rides take it out of you for a bit.

It did not stop me from sighing over how sublime the cherry blossoms were in that 560m lane, though. It was only 560m, but I lingered along the lane for about two hours. I even made a friend from Hong Kong, who was there alone like I was. Ah, the beauty of travelling and meeting people from all over the world.



The day I was at the lane was sort of gloomy, and it drizzled from time to time (hence all the umbrellas in the picture). It was windy too, which shook the blossoms around from their branches. They danced at my feet before settling down, waiting for the wind to pick them again.

Here's an overload of cherry blossom photos I took that day from the sakura lane. Check out all the varieties and colours!










I... finally understand why the Japanese love their cherry blossoms so much, and will move out in droves to appreciate their beauty when they are all around. A cherry blossom tree on its own is a pretty sight to behold, but when you are surrounded by rows and rows of cherry trees that are blooming...

Magnificent is the only word to describe it.

I stood underneath one of those trees with hanging branches, hidden from the crowd as they passed by. At one point, I was the only one under the tree, surrounded by cherry blossoms hanging in front of me. It was blissful. I want one in my fictional lawn, with a rocking chair underneath said tree. I will read a book under its shade, and still look up to see beauty.

Maybe the beauty of cherry blossoms is that it is so fleeting. It blossoms for a few days, and then it dies off before it comes back the next year. We appreciate its fragility and beauty, but also its resilience in coming back, blooming even more captivating than ever.

(Something about cherry blossoms make me want to wax poetic about them, a sentiment many has felt before, I am sure)


I went to the sakura lane at 10ish in the morning, and left at noon. This tree was at the end of the lane, located near the Osaka Mint Bureau building. My experience at the lane made me feel serene, despite the crowds of people there. It was a manageable crowd, and nobody stabbed me with their umbrella, which I count as a successful outing.

(I was actually almost stabbed in the eye with an umbrella before, at Disneyland in 2013. Hmmph at people not looking before swinging their umbrella downwards.)


A blossom I picked from the ground. It had a bit of dirt from the ground on it, but no less beautiful. Such a short lifespan for something so exquisite... but perhaps that is what makes it beloved.


I am thankful I finally got to see cherry blossoms in Japan.

Unsurprisingly, it has now blossomed a wish in my heart - that I get to see all the hot spots of cherry blossoms- viewing in Japan in the years to come. There's still hanami to do, and also night-time cherry blossom-viewing.

I hope my wishes come true, just like this one has.


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