So spring is slowly walking its way north through the archipelago of Japan and soon the parks will be full of celebrations, beer and old friends under the sakura trees of Tokyo. The famous cherry blossoms will be out, the weather still a little cool, and the junior staff from every company, sitting on a blue tarpaulins awaiting their daytime colleagues whilst holding onto the best locations and avoiding being overrun by early revellers. And that includes the preparations for the parties in Aoyama Cemetery.
Central to the metropolis, the gravestones lay home to the mourning trees of the capital. "The dead centre of Tokyo" as a friend used to say every time we drove by. Families will pack the rows between the stones and enjoy a reminiscence of times gone by but often of days yet to come. As someone whose home country lyes overseas, it's a fascinating time to watch an appreciation of nature, in all its forms from the families with children to the those visiting an ancestor in an urn.
A cheerful place at this time of year, I once found myself walking through the two and a half hectares of city centre listening to "The Women in Black" on a cold and somewhat dark evening. Strongly suggest you don't do that. Unless you like the feeling of inquisitive spirits following in your footsteps. Which is the reason the nearby Meiji Forest was hand planted around the famous shrine a few kilometres away in the first place. As you walk through the trees, the Emperor Meiji and his wife may just be looking over your shoulder. And that's why the forest is there. But watch out for a light tap on your shoulder....
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