When we moved into our house, we didn’t really think too much about the small tree, which seemed a bit out of place, next to the mailbox. We live in a pretty narrow alley that isn’t even paved, so to see a small tree down there was interesting.
We didn’t think much about it until the spring, when it started to blossom and we realized it was a cherry tree. Then it became clear why it was there: the previous owners of the home were pretty old, and it seemed that this could have been one of the few cherry trees they could see, since they probably didn’t go to too many hanami events at their age.
They’d been cutting it back each year, which was obvious by the size of the trunk and the relative size of the new branches that grew. I’ve allowed it to grow, although now I’m making plans to bonsai it a bit (yes, I’m using it as a verb), to keep it from spreading out and instead to train it upward. Photos of that to come.
So last year, this was the only tree we were able to view for hanami, since it appears that ours is a bit of a late bloomer. I finally figured out why it’s a late bloomer this year, although it would have been obvious if I’d been paying attention.
Our house’s front door faces west, and it faces the doors of other houses. To the north, we have train tracks, and to the south, a lane of houses. Our house is attached to a temple: there used to be a door between them that is now filled in as a wall. The tree doesn’t get a lot of light, just like the plants on my balcony and in the garden. They always bloom later than all of the other plants on the street, or even those at the house across from me, which seem to get more direct light from the east than my own.
But the great part about the lack of light is that our little cherry tree blooms later than most of the trees in Tokyo, so our hanami season is extended by a week or two. It’s great that we can step outside every day and see the tree and its blossoms. And it’s nice that even if we’re busy and don’t have a lot of time to do a hanami event, we can still see it and the lifetime of the flowers.