2006/04/11

Sakura Saturation Point? Nah....

My last posts concerning Mito City were about the Ume festival and prefectural museum of modern art. At that time the apricot trees were a main attraction (and dare I mention the Ume Abassadors?). The cherry trees that surround Lake Senba were still bare.

Sunday, after leaving Rokujizo Temple, we headed for the lake. Unfortunately, everyone else in Ibaraki Prefecture had the same idea and the two-lane road along the south shore of the lake turned into a trap with bumper to bumper cars just inching along. Ah well, nothing to be done but wait it out. As we were sitting in traffic, a turquoise 1960 Chevrolet Impala passed going the opposite direction.

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1960 Impala

An odd looking beast, it has fins as many Detroit Irons (American cars) did back then, but on the Impala they were horizontal instead of verticle. The car looked nicely restored, though it was modified to ride low, and was occupied by four young men trying to look as "cool" as possible. Just as they passed, the rear suspension of their car collapsed, dropping the back end to the ground and causing it to come to a slow, grinding, gut wrenching stop! You can imagine the effect this had on the already stagnant flow of traffic for the next hour and a half that it took for a tow tuck to arrive. Poor guys. So much for looking cool. I would not have been so sympathetic had we been behind them in line.

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Lake Senba

Once parked we decided to go for lunch. It was already getting close to 2 PM. We walked along the lake shore path toward the museum, which has a restaurant with a nice view of the lake. (The view is a better value than the food.) The cherry trees along the way were well worth the traffic jam we endured in order to see them.

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"K" and sakura.

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The Lake is lined with various kinds of cherry trees. This white one was really full.

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Looking across the lake from Ibaraki Museum of Modern Art. The titanium tower is Mito Art Tower - at the City Museum of Contemporary Art. Built in 1989 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mito City, it is 100 meters (328 ft) high and has an elevator that goes to a viewing level with porthole style windows.


After lunch we elected to follow the path around the other side of the lake on foot, circumnavigating it to return to the car. It is 7 km (4 1/3 miles) around the lake and one burns about 145 calories by walking around it. Perhaps we'd burn off some of the mango pie desert we had. Ha! Actually, we were also eating caramels at about 27 calories a pop as we walked. Oh well, this wasn't a day for dieting.

At this time of year, there are black swans and white swans are nesting along the shore. No comments about omlets please.

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Black swan checking on her two eggs.

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This couple of Mute Swans take turns at guard duty and egg sitting.

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A black swan takes a nap while standing under a pink cherry tree.

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Returning to where we started before lunch, we take a long final look at the scenery.

The Impala had finally been picked up by a truck, but the traffic was still bumper to bumper in both directions. K chose her exit strategy, but it didn't matter much either way - it took over an hour just to get out of the parking lot. Really. At times like this I view the invention of the automobile with disdain. What joke. I literally could have walked to the train station in less time.

Were we at the SSP - "Sakura Saturation Point"- yet? Not on your life! We next headed for our final stop for the day, a three block stretch of a river called....(drum roll please)...the Sakura River. You'll never guess what you find growing on its banks.

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Families, friends, and businesses have sakura viewing parties here. There are lights for night viewing as well.


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As we walked along, I looked up and saw the moon (look closely). How beautiful it must be here at night with the moonlight and blossoms.


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Had enough cherry blossoms for now? Are you at the SSP?


Quite a day. As we headed for the Ibaraki coast and the 50 km trip home, our heads were full of visions of sakura and thoughts of the experiences and surprises the day had held, as well as the lonesome and hungry little dog that was waiting patiently for our return.

14 comments:

Happysurfer said...

SSP? Nah!! Thank you for sharing the beauty.

Very nice pictures of the swans - unusual and hard to come by.

Pandabonium said...

There a lot of birds at lake Senba and the swans are always a treat. I've never been that close to a nest before.

@ロウ 。LOW@ said...

Yes, enough of those -- I thought panda likes bamboo? Hehe!!! To have that 1960 Impala goes with sakura was some unique blend, like Panda-bonium? :p

It must be wonderful to jog along the Sakura River. That's what some people are doing back in Kyoto downtown. Perhaps that will be another way to appreciate sakura? :)

Ancient Clown said...

Hello:
The trees are starting to look like that here in Vancouver BC as well...very beautiful. I just got a camera so I'm only starting to add pictures.
I'd also like to extend an invitation to the GOLD Medal Games.
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

Pandabonium said...

Low, the sakura are so much better this year, I am awed by them. They will be gone soon. Bamboo is bamboo all year. Having spent so much time stuck in traffic, I thought the Impala incident was pretty amusing - and such an unusual car to see anywhere, let alone Mito City, Japan. The path around the lake is good for jogging as the inner half is coated with some kind of coating for good traction and some shock absorbtion, while the outer half is smooth paving for bikes. At my age, I go for bicycling or fast walking as there is much less impact on the joints. In anycase, the people of Mito City have a great place.

Ancient Clown - thanks for visiting and the link to your site. I'd enjoy seeing some pics of Vancouver's trees.

The Moody Minstrel said...

That Impala incident is a classic. It's always funny when someone who is getting a bit too high on himself winds up looking like a total idiot.

"Look at me, baby! Aren't I just the coolest stud you've ever..." ***CRUNCH***
"Er, uh...huh huh huh..."

It reminds me of the time Bill Gates was demonstrating soon-to-be-released Windows 98 at a technology fair...and it crashed.

"Oooooops..."

I feel sorry for the car, though. It's a classic and a wonder to behold, though it pales in comparison with those glorious sakura and the scenic beauty of Lake Senba.

agus said...

SSP? Not yet, but the only reason I'll be having one is because I can't experience it first hand!

*sigh*

This sakura overload can only happen online. I bet it never gets old where they grow, season after season.

Oh, by the way, that impala incident breaks my heart. But what were they thinking? Driving that big mess underneath around? Or maybe luck was downright mean that day.

Pandabonium said...

MM - Gates had it coming. Still does.
That's pretty funny.

Those Mito City folks are lucky to have such a great park to enjoy.


Glad you like them Agus.
I don't think the car was seriously damaged. It was a "lowrider" so the owner had modified the suspension and probably didn't get things as tight as he should have and something slipped.

blzaztxx: proposed tax on blues and jazz performances.

FH2O said...

I was thinking that had this been Malaysia, the black swan's eggs would had long ended up as someone's omlet! I know, I know i just cant resist commenting! ;)

Lake Senba and Sakura River looks tempting ... Ever seen any kayakers on them?

Thanks!

Pandabonium said...

FH2O - Happily, the eggs may hatch and give us the beautiful sight of black goslings to enjoy.

I've not seen a kayak since coming to Japan, and as this was a weekly activity for me on Maui, I really miss it. They only have those silly looking swan shaped pedal-paddlewheel boats on lake Senba. The water is awfully damned cold anyway. I'll wait for Fiji!

The Moody Minstrel said...

I've actually seen a few kayaks among what little is left of the once-extensive network of canals in the Itako/Sawara area. During the Ayame (iris) Festival in the month of June, the waterways are at their floral best, and there are lots of people out on the water.

Robin said...

So so so beautiful..

definitely Sakura Saturation Point..

would be nice to see the fallen petals pink on the ground too..

Chen said...

The 1960 Impala is something very classic :)
but the "after effect" of driving that vehicle, I mean the incident is something.. mmmm..

And, yeah.. this is the first time I see a black swan.
All the while, I'm so used to seeing the white swan, and always relate swan with white colour :)

Pandabonium said...

Robin - I've been looking as petals fall, but so far haven't been in the right place at the right time. Spring rain and wind quickly take them away.

Chen, the black swans do seem unusual at first. Just as beautiful to watch them. I was excited to see the swans nesting close up.