Travel about as far as you can on the main island of Japan and you will hit the town of Aomori just short of Hokkaido. We traveled on the bullet train that made the trip in a few hours and was as comfortable and as luxurious as first class on a plane.
We had just arrived from China and hardly gotten ourselves organized but Reiko and Isao had us so comfortably ensconced in their apartment in Roppongi the night before that we were ready to roll the next day. We bought snacks on the platform but the train had a girl serving goodies from a rolling cart on the train.
The part of Japan we were traveling to is called Hirosaki which means “white head.” If you stand the island up, we were headed for the head and it was white with snow, still in May, with ski trails visible as we drew closer. In fact many of the high mountains were blanketed in heavy snow. Isao told us a terrible story about a company of Japanese soldiers training for war against Russia. Their commander led the raw recruits up into the mountains and of the 210 who went up, only 11 survived. There are many sad memories of WWII here. Much of the countryside looks new because so many of the towns burned during the war. We forget…
We also passed through Fukushima. Apparently. the authorities have deemed it safe to return but Reiko told me that atomic waste has been swept up and left in bags beside school yards. How safe is that? Strange to be seeing all this so closely.
After we arrived, we were able to leave our bags in a tent near the station. This festival brings many people from all parts of Japan so there is a crowded, holiday air to the place. We took a taxi to the park where a renovated shogun castle is the centerpiece of this amazing display of cherry trees. No one speaks English but I was able to buy my favorite treat, sweet rice cakes. from a vendor. Lots of small stalls sell goodies and trinkets.
I followed a couple of professional photographers trying to get a decent shot, but Isao always seemed to have the best vantage point saved for me.