I left my heart in Tokyo, but found joy in the cherry blossoms of South End

I left my heart in Tokyo, but found joy in the cherry blossoms of South End
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In March 2013, I arrived in Tokyo just in time to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. I still remember the day well; I was going to live in Japan for a year to study at Waseda University.

It was something I was dying to do for a long time and it felt like a dream-came-true moment for me. Finally, I was able to live, breathe, and feel Japan.

As soon as we unloaded the luggage at Hyatt Regency at Shinjuku, my parents decided we would go to Ueno Park for “ohanami” (cherry blossom viewing). That day was cold and gloomy, but the flowers were perfect. The sky was covered in pink, all different shades of pink. It was like love at first sight.


I left Tokyo in 2014 right before cherry blossom season, so technically I only got to see cherry blossoms in Japan once during my time in Tokyo. Yet somehow, even just seeing images of sakura — very symbolic of Japan — a nostalgic feeling reminds me of the time I spent there. It was perhaps one of my happiest times in my life so far.

This spring, I’ve been walking to work daily (unless there’s bad weather). I’ve been seeing the pink trees from my office window for a few days, and the other day on my walk home I decided to stop by the trees just to take photos, because they look pretty.


To my surprise, they were cherry blossom trees. I mean, it’s not a big deal seeing sakura trees in Asia, Washington D.C., San Francisco… but in North Carolina! Not to mention in South End. That’s a big deal, at least to me.

I was surprised, amazed and overjoyed to find these gems. I just stood in front of the trees looking at them, taking photos, and reminiscing on my Tokyo days. It was wonderful.


Photo via Google Maps


One thing I love about cherry blossoms is that they do not last long. They are in fact, quite fragile and delicate. They are only pretty for a very short period of time, and every year full bloom is different from the last.

I feel like many Japanese writers and poets who wrote about sakura, “cherry blossoms are pretty because they do not last long. When you have the chance to enjoy the moment, to gaze at the beauty, it is like eternity.”

Today, I brought my polaroid camera and took a few more photos of the cherry blossoms, and also picked three flowers on the ground to put in my planner. I wonder how long they will stay this pretty on the sidewalk. But every day I will stop by to see them, to have a moment, and be grateful for the beauty of these flowers while they last.


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