Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sakura Season

Cherry trees are blossoming early this year, this week in fact, which seems to mean that everyone needs to go out and enjoy the view. Really, sometimes, seeing a bunch of trees all in blossom is spectacular. But I'm going to have to accept that I really don't get the whole cherry blossom viewing thing. (Sakura means cherry blossom.)

I've tried, really. This is Osaka Castle in the background, with cherry trees in blossom and a lot of food stall things in the foreground.

I have two issues with the whole cherry blossom viewing thing. Every once in a while, you get a really beautiful view of blossoms. But mostly, you really have to exercise selective vision to see the beauty of the blossoms despite the electric wires, signs, buildings, and crowds. Wow at the crowds. I'm not one of those people who really likes the roar of a crowd anyway; I don't especially like pushing and shoving on trains or trying to get through a crowded street. But cherry blossoms bring out lots of people, so I dealt.

I usually love to try new foods, but I tried the "octopus balls" and didn't like them much at all. They're a bunch of dough around a small piece of octopus, deep fried but not long enough to seem really cooked, and then with some bonito flakes and mayonaise over them. (This morning, I was comforted to learn that another person who generally likes all sorts of foods doesn't like them either.)

On the other hand, today while out on the way to Toji, I picked up what looked like a doubled pancake. Turns out to be basically a bit sweeter, and with a chunk of margarine and some maple syrup inside. It wasn't bad, but I bet it would have been even better heated up. (I'll have to try that.)

I think I've got a touch of culture shock, or maybe it's just that I'm slowly getting over the cold and tired from not sleeping, but I felt really frustrated yesterday, mostly by the crowds, but also the food, my inability with the language, and just impatience at myself and everything.

I've been pretty much coughing for 6 days, and more at night, though it's dropping off a lot yesterday and today. I would get into bed, and just cough all night. Maybe I'd sleep for an hour and a half or so, and then the coughing would start and wouldn't stop. I finally figured out that I could stop the coughing by getting vertical for at least an hour, and set up some of the sitting pillows in the tatami room so I could jam myself into a corner with the duvet. I actually slept for a couple hours that way with minimal coughing, but then I woke up all cramped from sitting up. (There's really no other way I could figure out how to be comfortable enough to sleep and be more or less vertical.)

The stupid thing is, I met with students pretty much all day during the week. They had a paper due, and if I didn't meet with them, the papers are likely to be a lot weaker, and they'll learn less. And you can't turn over paper conferences to someone else because it's my assignment and I'll be grading it.

To be honest, though, it wasn't like I was going to get over a cold any faster by trying to sleep and coughing at it all day, right? (I do hope I didn't share it!)


  1. Oh, that is frustrating - to have a cold for so long! I really hope you get over it soon!

  2. Anonymous9:16 AM

    I'm with you on the relentless cough. And it's aggravated by the fact that I feel terrible keeping Special K awake too. You're taking a nice hot bath before bed, right? That's the only thing that gives me a chance of getting some sleep.

    I was never that crazy about sakura season myself. But I do love takoyaki! I guess it's an acquired taste. (Although my favorite takoyaki stand served them with "sosu" ("sauce" -- tonkatsu sauce) rather than mayo.

  3. Cherry blossoms are lovely....BUT there's nothing that irritates my allergies more! A few years ago I was in D.C. for three day in cherry blossom season and I spent the whole time drugged up on antihistamines and carting around boxes of tissues, and the last night there, my eardrum burst. Frankly, I'd rather look at your cherry blossom photo!

  4. Well, you might get over a cold a little faster with some more rest--it's always hard to tell. That cough sounds awful! I hope it passes soon.

  5. Thanks for the sympathies, folks!

    I got 7 hours of good sleep last night before I woke up coughing, and then I was able to get things cleared up again pretty fast, so I think I'm recovering apace.

    And, after all, it was a COLD, and just of importance because it contributed to feelings about the day.

    Meg, Hmm, maybe I'll have to try it again? (probably not).