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Monday, April 24, 2017

Hanami In Toronto

After spending the beautiful Sunday afternoon inside working on transcribing an interview I did last week, I finished and dragged my lazy son out to the batting cages for some baseball swings.

Last year, his batting let him down... but after a course at a hitting clinic this past winter where everything just clicked, the hitting has come around.

I just wanted to watch him this time. While the pitching machine was only tossing 55 MPH balls - pitches most adults ahead of him were swinging and missing at, he was cranking those bad boys for what would definitely be home runs in his Peewee Select league... I'm coaching his team this year, so I admit I have more than a standard hope my kid does well investment.

On the way to the batting cage here in the west end of Toronto, we passed by scores of Asian (and other) folk perched under the 10-foot tall cherry trees in full bloom.

Mama mia! Hanami in Toronto? In April?

Hanami is flower watching (hana = flower, mi = eye/to watch) in Japanese... and it was kindda cool to see it happening here in Toronto.

I know it's not as spectacular as what Japan had two months ago, or Washington with all of the cherry trees gifted to it by Japan decades ago... but... whatever... it's the first time I have observed it personally since I left Japan in 1993.

I stopped the car and snapped a few shots after our batting practice... no room to park and walk over unless we spent 20 minutes walking... and I didn't want to do that to Hudson.

Anyhow... I know Toronto has a main cherry blossom viewing area in the High Park area, but I have to admit that I never got the whole hanami thing.

Yeah, okay, the Japanese work too hard and any excuse to commune with nature is a good excuse.

Me? I spend enough time outside during the spring and summer - cutting grass, did I mention 28 bags of yard waste over the past two weeks, and now coaching kid's baseball... three games a week and a practice... scouting other baseball teams looking for possible call-ups... writing blogs... so... screw sitting under a bunch of bug-infested blossoming trees munching on sandwiches and sucking back alcohol.

Man... I have changed... I really don't drink much anymore.
I don't know how anyone could sit down under these trees and have a beer next to the road - especially with Toronto's drinking laws.
Anyhow... how do people outside of Japan justify hanami? It's not a much needed break. It's just another excuse to do nothing.

I like nothing, but I don't have the time.

It's also why I didn't really get into hanami in Japan... like I said, the Japanese have an excuse... but me, as the visiting foreigner... I didn't work as hard as the natives. I only went to hanami because it was an excuse to get free drinks... no wait... I had to pay my own way when I went with the Ohtawara Board of Education office... team bonding... I get it... but since only two people spoke enough English... how much of that was there...

Oh well... for the people doing hanami in Toronto... I suppose it's a taste of Japan they miss, or simply have heard about and want to take part in.

Me? I'd rather hit a few balls with my son.

But for that one brief moment seeing people posing for pics under the trees... I almost felt transported back in time. Almost.

Go sit outside when you can.

Andrew Joseph

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