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The best cherry blossom path ever

I did it!

Damn, when you're good, you're good.

And when you have no modesty, you have no modesty.

One of my numerous little obsessions is to discover a new cherry blossom spot every year. This year I thought it was not to be, due to a combination of workload and bad weather, but fortunately I was wrong. When you're damn good but you get it wrong, you get it very wrong, and then it's very good. How's that for logic?

This year's best discovery isn't 100% new. I've been meaning to go there for a long time, but it never worked out. Then I woke up to a perfect day – that was Wednesday – and impulsively decided that if I moved my butt, I could finish this walkpedition before my afternoon lessons.

Awe and wonder

Yonks ago Sarah told me about a river in Saitama where she drinks umeshu donated by her father-in-law under the cherry blossoms. Some months later I tried to find a Kannon statue, aborted my mission halfway, walked through Saitama in a sulk, talked to staff at various temples, got given various maps, observed said maps and noticed pink spots.

"Look," I said to Sarah, "pink spots."
"That's my river!" said Sarah.
"Oh. It is?"
"Oh. It's near Kōkūkōen?"
"Oh. Why didn't you say so?"
"I did!"

The river in question is the Azumagawa that runs between Kōkūkōen and Higashi-Tokorozawa, a distance of roughly 5 km. It's a small suburban river that's lined by cherry trees on both sides, and it's the best cherry blossom path I've yet discovered in Japan.

It's impossible to capture the beauty of Japan's cherry blossoms in a photo.
Well, not if you're an amateur. I give up. I can't. 

If I say it's the best, it's because I can tick all my personal preferences:

1) suburban or countryside
2) different varieties of cherry trees that provide a multi-coloured effect
4) no chichi restaurants with precious fashionistas (I didn't spot one high heel during my entire walk)
5) relatively uncrowded (on a weekday morning)

Unexpected extras:

1) It's near Iruma Air Base, which means you occasionally hear a powerful fighter jet. I'm besotted with jet aircraft, and that roar? Ooo. Give me moar!
2) You encounter cheerful old-timers and groups of kindergarten kids. Normally the latter would instill the fear of God in me, but on a spring morning pink blossoms and cute albeit noisy kids combine very nicely, and anyway, they're not half as noisy as obaasan going so so so ne ne ne kireeeiii!
3) Saitama's drivers impressed me. It must be taxing to drive along these roads in spring, because you've got people stumbling along in the middle of the street with their eyes lifted towards pink bliss, but I encountered nothing but patience and politeness from motorists.
4) Daffodils! Everywhere along the river, daffodils. It's my considered opinion that it's utterly impossible to be unhappy while looking at daffodils. Forget about Valium and Prozac: just look at daffodils. If you're not unhappy to start with, you're positively doolally by the time you've finished your walk.

Oh, don't listen to my waffling. Just look. It was impossible to choose a few photos from the hundreds I took; eventually I arbitrarily selected every tenth one.

How to get there
Start at Kōkūkōen Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line. (It takes about half an hour by train from Shinjuku or Takadanobaba.) If you look at Google Maps, you can clearly see the river that runs just east of the station all the way to Higashi-Tokorozawa.

I've just reached one hundred followers. Yikes. My deepest humblest politest bow to every one of you. I hope you'll enjoy our walkpeditions together!

Interesting straw rope on a torii at a shrine along the way

Can you see the daffodils?

Hanami in Kōkūkōen


Airplanes on a manhole, because Kōkūkōen is associated with
the history of flight in Japan. Also: trusted beloved hiking boot!

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