While walking through Tokyo’s own “Central Park”, the Yoyogi Park, I saw this crow resting on a cherry tree branch. These animals are incredibly intelligent and can distinguish between individual people by memory, so I try to always be very respectful when I get closer to one. They are actually quite camera shy, I guess they have bad memories of men with guns, but this one stayed put long enough for me to take a photo. Crows in Tokyo belong to a subspecies that grow very large, in Europe they would rival even our ravens and they communicate by using different calls. I have seen crows act on “orders” from other crows, but I wonder if the cooperate of if they have leaders?
The kanji, the Japanese character, for crow, is 烏. It is very similar to the kanji for bird, 鳥, except for the line representing the eye. The crow is so black you can’t see the eye. A very simple kanji to remember! I’m sure I’m not the only kanji learner that went through a “bird phase”.
I have to apologize for all the nature themed posts lately, but spring is in the air and I can hardly keep my eyes from all the green around me lately! One of the least important looking buildings at the famous Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo is actually a piegeonnaire. The priests at the shrine are quite successfully breeding hundreds of pairs of white doves and I have noticed them around the shrine many times before, but never seen them enjoying the first days of spring quite like this. If you visit the shrine keep an eye out for these birds! Next time I will bring my proper long lens to get a closer look!
The coming of the cherry blossom season is closely tracked across the country, and in Tokyo the center of attention is the famous Yasukuni Shrine where the official cherry tree of the Tokyo metropolitan area grows. Every day the meteorological agency inspects the tree to check for signs of blossoming and when the time has come the Tokyo Cherry Blossom Seasoning is officially declared open. This is the signal for literally millions of people to descend on the gardens, parks and even roadside plots – anywhere beneath a cherry tree – to enjoy the traditional Japanese activity of “hanami”, flower viewing while drinking and making merry with friends and colleagues. There were plenty of people taking pictures of the few brave early flowers. Still few, but enough for officials to declare the season open, the earliest ever! Still, as I look around the city there are almost nothing on the cherry trees yet, so it will be awhile before the main flowering kicks in.
You can see the “monitor tree” itself in the second to last photo, with the main trunk of the tree at the far right of the photo and the single extended branch all the way to the far left of the photo, and in a close up, the 5-6 flowers necessary for the season to be declared open. Enjoy!