A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Tsukuba`s Unusual Mid-April Groundscapes of 2010

April 17th 2010- Snow-covered field ( with rabbit tracks) in Konda, Tsukuba
By Avi Landau

For the Japanese, falling and fallen cherry blossom petals have always inspired a sense of regret ( OSHIMU, 惜しむ), a sadness brought on by the fact, that all things must pass ( and ever so quickly).
I, too, experience the same melancholy as the petals come raining down on me with each breeze or gust, beginning  just a day or two after the glory ( and power) of the sakura`s full blooming.
Walking around for the next few days can offer a mesmerizingly, even dizzyingly beautiful experience, if you keep your head down observing the myriad of changing patterns which the fallen petals form.
My favorite fallen petal scenes are those that I find in the tracks of wild animals or tires or any other spaces in which the delicate petals are safe from being blown away by the wind.

Shakuyaku ( peonies) in the snow- by Harumi Takaya

More snow in the fields

This year, however, has given us some rare groundscapes indeed, as winter which never wants to give up its grip, has been able to successfully cling on to dear life right through mid-April. In fact, when I got up this morning, April 17th, groggy from sleep and grumpy because it was still VERY COLD in my house, I nealry PLOTZED when I looked out the window and saw an almost completely white landscape! It was the first time in over 40 years for such a late late snowfall.

Nanohana ( rape blossoms) in the snow

I thought that I should get outside and take a closer look, but as soon as I did, the sleet that was falling picked up in intensity and I head back for the shelter of my TATAMI ROOM which was starting to get heated up ( luckilly I still had some kerosene left over for my heater).

Mid-April snow in Harumi Takaya`s garden

A carpet of cherry blossom petals

Pheasant ( kiji) tracks filled with cherry blossom petals in Konda, Tsukuba

Fallen petals by the Sakura City Office, Tsukuba

In the afternoon, when the sky cleared up, I headed out on foot, towards the university. On the way I passed more groundscapes, these, particular to the season. The farmers, have recently been getting the fields ready for the rice plantation by plowing the soil. This is called TA OKOSHI. Traditionally this was done in the coldest part of winter, the idea being to expose harmful warm to the frosty cold and thus killing them.
These days, the farmers wait until early spring to get things started, and instead of relying on the cold, use chemicals to kill the pests. HMMM.

Tractor tracks in a Tsukuba rice field ( April 2010)

The cherry blossom petals will be on the ground for a few more days. In fact, because of the cold, there are still many blossoms on the trees! That means you still have time to enjoy HANA FUBUKI ( petal blizzards) and HANA IKADA ( petals floating in the water) and the dazzling patterns on the ground in general.

Dodan tsutsuji in the snow ( Harumi Takaya)

Harumi Takaya`s garden ater a mid-April snowfall

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