186. Japan in mid-Essex


Digging into the novels of Haruki Murukami – above all the ‘Wind-up Bird Chronicle’ and ‘1Q84’ – has been one of life’s great pleasures. But I would still like to see Japan for myself.

The tea ceremonies, the yakuzi, the high-speed trains. The discipline of a people able to live, commute and work in tight spaces. The Buddhist temples. Geisha girls and indigenous whiskies. Obedience. The political legacy of the emperors, and the permeation of US business culture. Obedience. The martial arts propensities. And above all the cherry blossom in spring.

The BBC’s Monty Don made a great documentary about Japan last year. He arrived in Kyoto for the first cherry blossoms in late March, and captured vivid shots from the limited number of days when the blossom adorns the trees.  It was like a gorgeously mad dream.

I may never be rich enough to witness it in person. So have come to treasure the road where I live. Cherry Garden Road, Great Waltham. It lives up to its name, by virtue of 10 or so full-sized cherry trees planted along the length of the road, and another 12 or so that are still growing.

Here are my photos of a nearby tree, over the 16 to 23 April period. It’s a good time to be here.

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