Tokyo Trip Spring 2013, a set on Flickr.
So, for the Golden Week holiday, I took a trip up to the big city. Why? Of course to do some sight-seeing, but also to see if I could wrap my head around the thought of living in Tokyo. The result? We'll see.
Hanami 2013, a set on Flickr.
Quite possibly the quintessential Japanese point of time is the early spring bloom of cherry blossoms. Signaling the end of winter, the sakura blooms have become emblematic of Japan, and remain part and parcel with Japanese culture. It's not by mistake that newspapers and TV shows make note of when the blossoms are expected to bloom throughout the country, and discuss ways and places to celebrate with a traditional hanami-kai, or flower viewing party.
These photos are from a park nearby in my town, and from a famous place around here to view sakura, Omura Park. Last Saturday was a hanami-kai for myself and my friends, and the weather was almost perfect -- clear, sunny, and warm enough to enjoy the sites, sounds and smells of early spring.
V-Varen Nagasaki vs Gamba Osaka (2013 J2, Rd 2; March 10, 2013), a set on Flickr.
This is a small piece of history. Nagasaki's professional soccer club, V-Varen Nagasaki, finally reached the true professional levels after eight years of existence. They stormed through the third division (the semi-pro JFL) last year, and were promoted to J2 this season.
This was my first V-Varen game of any sort. Last year they played in Nagasaki city primarily; the stadium was hard to get to unless you had a car. This year, they've moved into the new Nagasaki Prefectural Stadium in Isahaya, and it's a (brisk and winding) walk from the train station and right next to a main road.
A packed house of 18,000-plus got to see one of Japan's biggest clubs, Gamba Osaka, spoil the housewarming party. Gamba are favorites to jump right back up to J1 (the top division), and showed why -- the game finished 3-1, and could have been far harsher on V-Varen. Nagasaki must hope to stay up in J2, but realistically they can't hope to get points off clubs like Gamba.
Even with the loss it was a great day out. March is just the start of the season (J-League season started the same day as MLS did in America) so I'm sure I'll go to more games. It's a nice little stadium, it's close by (less than 40 minutes driving), and it's a good time. I hope the fans who went will keep coming back.