The Best Kept Sakura Secret in Yoyogi

Did you think I was done with this years sakura season?
Not so fast! I couldn’t move on without posting about the weekend I discovered rows and rows of cherry blossoms in Yoyogi. And the best part? There were absolutely no crowds. This place may be the best kept secret in Yoyogi…or even Tokyo!
My friend F and I decided to go hunt for cherry blossoms in Yoyogi so we first stopped by Yoyogi Village to get fuel for the afternoon. Then, with coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other, we were off!
Strolling along the road, we discovered a row of cherry blossoms. It was in a restricted area and while we were trying to figure out how to sneak in…we saw that the facility had even more cherry blossoms than we realized.
The National Olympic Memorial Youth Center was bursting with blooms. I don’t know about F but I am still patting myself on the back for inadvertently stopping by this facility. There were a few people walking around admiring the sakura like we were, but mostly the streets inside the grounds were deserted. 
We found a bench under the row of trees and relaxed for a bit. It wasn’t the most sunniest of days but it didn’t seem to matter. Everything was beautiful and I had a great time chatting away with F on that bench.
And our timing was perfect. Once we were on our way to another coffee shop, it actually started to rain. So glad we were able to enjoy the gorgeous blooms while we could! x
Here are some photos:

The Hanami Under the Camellia Tree

No cherry blossom season in Japan is complete without hanami.
Hanami is pretty much a picnic under the cherry blossoms. So you would think that it’s as easy as a picnic blanket in one hand and a six-pack of beer in the other. Well, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.
For one, it’s hard to pinpoint when the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom, even with the announcement of the cherry blossom forecast as early as a month before. Especially if you only have weekends (like me).
For another, spring weather is extremely unstable and that means it rains quite often. So not only do you hope the blossoms are blooming but you also have to hang a teru-teru-bozu and pray it doesn’t rain on your hanami day.
And finally, this hanami season is also the end of the fiscal year for most companies and spring break for many students. Which can mean full schedules for everyone and is quite difficult to find a day when everyone is able to come. I actually have a coworker who sets a date for hanami with friends a year ahead.
Well, my baby sister was flying in to stay with me for a few days before heading back to school at the end of March so we decided on this day to get together. It was a gorgeous afternoon with the sun shining through the trees, perfect for hanami.
Except none of the cherry trees had blossoms!
Ha! Ah well, I knew the unusually warm weather was too good to be true. Although it didn’t stop us one bit from having a good time. We spotted a camellia tree in full bloom and decided that one blossom was good as the other! x
Did you have the perfect hanami day this season?
We got burgers from my favorite burger shop! Yum!
Did you try the easter kitkats? (It was way too sweet for me…but cute, right?)
My sister flew in this morning and brought homemade ohagi that my mom made for us.

The Afternoon at Arms Burger Shop

I completely forgot about these photos!
My high school friend has the cutest dog (seen here before) and sometimes we go to Yoyogi Park to let him roam and run wherever he pleases. We also like to stop by this little burger shop Arms because they allow dogs inside with you. It’s the perfect nook to warm up and relax in.
Here are some photos of the tiny but ferocious (not really) Leo and his people:

The Prayers in Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine (明治神宮) was still full of
people coming to pay the first visit of the year.
We call this visit Hatsu-mode (初詣).
One of the things I always love to
is to see what everyone has written on their ema (絵馬).
It’s a wooden plaque
and people write their prayers on it.
(Not sure how ethical it is…but I see a lot of people doing the same!)

I think this one was my favorite.
This little boy drew a picture of Ultraman
and also wrote as his prayer
“I hope I get presents.”
Too cute.
I hope he does, too.

That Afternoon at the Mosque in Yoyogi

One of the most peaceful places I’ve been to.
Who knew there was a mosque in Tokyo?

My first time inside a mosque.
The design and colors were so stunning.
I wonder if all mosques are like this?
We just sat there
drinking in every detail.
The stained-glass windows were amazing.
I would love to see that up close.

Someone came to pray while we were in the prayer hall.
I didn’t know what he was saying
or why he was doing what he was doing
but it was beautiful all the same.
Something about prayer, in any religion.
I sometimes feel like those that are able and willing to
give themselves over to a certain belief
are the strongest of them all.