Tuesday, April 1, 2008


It's April, which in Japan means the start of the real new year in many ways. The fiscal year starts now for most companies, tax returns are due, the new school year starts now for everyone from kindergarten to university, and most new company employees will start their jobs now. On a more personal note there's been a fair amount of work-related turmoil lately, but on the positive side I submitted a conference paper today - always a good way to kick off a new year.

Overall, I like the idea of having the new year in April rather than January; it fits well with the general feeling of spring, rebirth and new beginnings this season always carries with it (along with the rainshowers, cold snaps and high winds of course - but I digress). We picked Tsukushi a week or so ago (post about that later), and the cherry blossoms have just appeared in Osaka, so we'll go to Osaka castle for Hanami this weekend, weather permitting. Good time to be alive.

Cherry blossoms in the rain
Cherry blossoms in the rain. Older picture (from 2005), but one of my favourites.


  1. If you get a chance, do visit Himeji castle instead of the Osaka replica.

    Do we have anything like that in Europe?

  2. Osaka castle isn't a replica of Himeji but the original castle in Osaka which was attacked and destroyed by Tokugawa, then rebuilt and burned down several times. It's a common theme by the way; it isn't a real historically important site unless it's had a fire, an earthquake and Tokugawa Ieasu happen to it once or twice.

    And while the current main building itself is a somewhat forgettable modern structure inside, the large castle grounds are all original, and a very pleasant recreation area in spring and summer.

    As for your second question, Europe is positively littered with old castles and strongholds. We tended to build stuff with stone rather than wood, and without earthquakes (or Tokugawa) structures have tended to survive a lot better. I'd say Neuschwanstein in Bayern is at least as visually spectacular, for instance.


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