My “Hanami” at Bentenyama

I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, the man who develops my photos. He’s very nice and I’ve known him since the first week I arrived in Fukushima City back in April of 2006. We were discussing Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) sites. I said I’d been to Hanamiyama and I’d been to Shinobuyama. He said, “How about Bentenyama?” I knew that Bentenyama was just a short bike ride (about twenty minutes) from my home, so I thought, Yes. How about Bentenyama?

That’s Bentenyama in the distance in the above photo. It’s a hill in the south part of Fukushima City.

“Yama” means mountain. But Bentenyama is really more of a big hill. Although in Kansas, it would be considered a mountain. I guess it depends on your point of view.

I was alone. I goaded a passerby into taking this photo. The place I am standing is actually on the left side of the map (NOT the part my finger is at.) My goal was to do the roughly thirty-minute climb up to an area with a shrine.

Fukushima City–My home is in that direction.

Pointing my camera over to the east.

At peak flower season, both Hanamiyama and Shinobuyama are very crowded, whereas Bentenyama was definitely not. In fact, I was the only human on the mountain. (Notice I said human.)

It was fun taking photos. It was so quiet. I wasn’t making noise at all.

Early April in Fukushima City! (These photos date from April 8th.)

 

I was being a little too quiet…….because—–

….as I walked up the stairs, I heard a sound to my left! I looked and it was an animal!

My first thought was “It’s a donkey!” But then I thought, “There aren’t donkeys here. Maybe it’s a dog (No) or a wolf (No) or a wild boar (No.)”

Wild boars can attack humans, so after I snapped the photo above, I stopped climbing the mountain. I went down, lest I be eaten by a boar or a bear. I had NO idea there were wild animals (big wild animals) on Bentenyama! It’s a hill in the city. Not exactly the true wilderness.

After I reached the bottom of the mountain, I continued home. I saw a man standing in his yard, so I asked him, “Are there wild animals on Bentenyama?” He said No.  So then I showed him the photo above on my camera. He said the animal was a kamoshika.

Here’s the deal. Nobody thinks that there are kamoshika on Bentenyama. But this photo is proof.

I myself didn’t really know what a kamoshika was, but when I googled it, I saw that it was indeed the same animal that I had seen with my own eyes, and that it had the same familiar lope. In English, a kamoshika is called Japanese Serow. It’s only in Asia. I think mostly in Japan, and maybe Taiwan?

The following video is a random video I found on youtube:

So there it is. It was running away from me (having heard me approaching.) I’m pretty excited because I can add it to the list of authentic Japanese animals I’ve seen in the wild: monkey, hakkubishin (civet), kamoshika (serrow)

I have not seen: tanuki, wild boar, bear, crane and so on. (I doubt I will ever see a crane as it migrates only to very specific areas, neither near where I live.) If you see a white bird in Japanese, it is likely either a heron or swan. I’ve seen both herons and swans quite often.

 

Cherry Blossoms in the Snow (Fukushima City 2019)

Today (April 18th , 2019) is warm, but last week it snowed! Amazingly, the snowfall happened when our cherry blossoms were in full bloom!

I’d seen that combination of cherry blossoms and snow only once before, in 2010. Obviously, snow is rare in April (especially a heavy snow) here in Fukushima City.

These photos were taken…..I think Wednesday last week? Or maybe Thursday. I don’t remember. Anyway, I left very early in the morning (about 5:45 a.m) to take these photos. I knew that the snow would melt soon.

 

This cherry blossom tree is in another part of Fukushima City. It’s later the same day, when I was riding my bike on an errand. The building in the background (left side) is the City Hall.

The above photo was taken a few days after the snowfall. You can see that the branches that are almost in the center of the photo were damaged by the snow–they’re hanging directly downward, instead of springing outward.

Cherry Blossoms Day by Day 2019 (Part Two)

Here is a continuation of the cherry blossoms:

Above photos: April 7, 2019

Above photos: April 8, 2019

And here are the photos early this morning, April 11, 2019! Yes, it snowed during the night! It’s very unusual for it to snow heavily in April during the cherry blossom at its full bloom. My mom and I were discussing the effect of the snow on the flowers, and wondering if the blossoms will die or spring back. We’ll see….! Stay tuned.

Cherry Blossoms Day by Day 2019 (Part One)

 

MARCH 30, 2019 I took the above three photos in Shinhama Park, a well-known park here in Fukushima City. It’s a very short walk from my home. The boys were so friendly. They attend a local junior high in Fukushima  City. The boy with the mask is likely wearing it due to allergies–Japan has a high ragweed content in the air (due to its abundance of cedar forests.) People who have hayfever frequently wear masks here in the spring to keep the pollen from their nose and mouth.

MARCH 31, 2019 We had a spell of unusually cold weather this day–you can see that it snowed that morning.

APRIL 3, 2019 In the above three photos, you can see the cherry blossom have not kicked into full bloom yet.

APRIL 6, 2019 Full bloom! I took the above three photos early this morning. (Thus, the sun is directly behind the tree!) Cherry blossom are famous in Japan, but it feels a little hectic to me because they bloom for such a short time. I know, I know. Such is the life of the samurai.

 

Name of the new era has been announced.

A new era will begin in May in Japan!

The current emperor will retire, passing the throne to his eldest son.

Each reign of an emperor has a different name. Right now we are in the Heisei Era, but very soon this will end. What will the new era be called?

On Monday, it was announced:

Reiwa

令=rei

和=wa

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Being a non-native speaker of Japanese, I rushed to my dictionary, trying to figure out the meaning of “rei.”

It’s hard to pin down the exact meaning of rei (for me.) Maybe “decree”?  It’s the second kanji in the word “order” meirei 命令

So I will translate “reiwa” as decree harmony. That sounds horrible, though, doesn’t it?

The OFFICIAL TRANSLATION BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT (blow bugle at this point) is “Beautiful Harmony”

See this link:      https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-gov%27t-says-era-name-translates-as-beautiful-harmony

Um….there’s a problem…..does “rei” mean beautiful in English? Uh er ah…..I will refrain from commenting……………………………………


If you’re in Japan now, look for it. Above, it’s part of an ice cream advertisement in a newspaper.

In this photo (above,) I bought lunch for my son at the fast food restaurant “Lotteria,” and the name of the current era’s name Heisei was there next to the menu on the counter.