Dave and I leave for Hokkaido tomorrow. We will be flying to and staying in Sapporo so we can enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival. On today’s to-do list was to locate our Chicago winter gear and start packing, mail a few packages at the post office, and charge my train card. Locating our winter gear was pretty easy. With the exception of my hot pink snow pants, everything else has been neatly folded in a large plastic bin in the spare closet. I dug out gloves, hats, and neck gaiters for each of us. My things and our plethora of hand, foot, and body warmers are in the suitcase. I set Dave’s cold weather gear aside so he can sort through them when he gets home.

Once the post office was open, I walked down the hill to mail the packages and then to the train station to charge my train card. It was such a beautiful day and my chores were complete, I had time to goof off!

I decided to hop the train and scout out the status of the plum blossoms at Taura Plum Grove. Last year, I went to see the Taura Plum Grove in early March and the blooms were mostly gone. On the train the other day, I noticed a group of pink plum trees and I wanted to see how far they were from blooming this year.

I climbed the six long flights of stairs giving me a nice burn in my quads!

The Plum trees definitely are not in bloom right now. However, their buds are set nicely and hopefully, the weather will allow them to explode with blossoms in the next couple of weeks.

There were a few trees that had blossoms that were already starting to open.

The close up pictures were fun to take.

There were a few daffodils blooming as well. They will always be my favorite. New beginnings just like Spring.

These were the group I could see from the train. Unfortunately, they are on private property and not part of the park.

As I was walking around at the top of the hill, I noticed a small information hut. As I passed, I greeted the worker with a spirited “Konnichiwa.” He replied the same and then asked me a question in Japanese. Confused, I shook my head and said “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Japanese.” He then asked me, “do you know why you are here?” At his question I was completely laughing on the inside. I know he was trying to ask me, “do you know where you are?” I couldn’t help but think he was about to lead me on some super existential journey. I imagined we would spend the afternoon discussing the meaning of life and before the sunset I would be further along on my path to enlightenment. As my thoughts ran quickly through my mind, I replied, “Hai, I know where I am.” He responded with a smile and nod and said “please take a map to help you find your way.” A map! For my existential journey along the path to enlightenment!?! No, sorry. A map of the park. Please enjoy. Arigatōgozaimas!

Perhaps in two weeks, when our first spring visitor arrives, the blooms will be perfect for a walk through the Plum Grove. I’ll keep my fingers crossed! In the meantime, I’ll be sharing our experiences from our long weekend spent exploring the Sapporo Snow Festival! As always, thanks for reading!