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Cherry season in Japan.

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Not cherry flower season - cherry fruit season. Yum!

Sometime last year I got an email: "wow, gotta say you have a great site, pity you can't be persuaded to come visit Japan for a week or three, with free room and board, and teach me herbs in person ..."

Flattering, no? I said "I've been thinking of visiting Japan again, it's a nice country, where did you say you lived again?"

So in June I went over for a bit less than two weeks. Lovely place, is Chichibu, in the mountains about 2 hours west of Tokyo.

Last time (in 2001) I went to Kobe, and visited everything which looked like it was even remotely botanical - and Kobe is close to both Osaka and Kyoto. This time I was out in the boons, and going 5 hours by train to get to a herb garden on the other side of Tokyo wasn't all that tempting, especially as I had been back'n'forth to Tokyo three times that week already (with 2 hours by train each way).

So my gracious host (waves) and me went to see local gardens, wild spots in the mountains, and gardens in central Tokyo instead.

Now, what I don't get is, they have cherry trees all over the place, and lots and lots (and lots) of people go to see the cherries in flower. And nobody at all picks the fruit, which is more or less tasty, more or less cherry-sized, and more or less abundant in the various parks and gardens we visited. And those cherries were ripe. They were extremely abundant in the botanical garden of Tokyo (probably because the trees had the right cross-pollinating species sitting next to them), and less abundant in parks around Chichibu. Tasty! (Foreigners can do things which Japanese wouldn't ever dream of doing, in Japan). The mahonia berries were ripe, too, and very juicy and tasty. Yum!. And where the loquats had gotten enough sun they were heavy with fruit - mmm, very good. At yet another local park the mulberries were heavy with black berries, ripe and overripe (lots fallen on the ground). We picked bags and bags of them with both mouths and fingers stained purple. (Don't pick anything from private property, cos, like, it's somebody's private garden.)

If you ever decide to visit Japan, get a native guide. It's lots of fun: first, said guide can tell you where the local botanical highlights are, and second, said guide can also tell you which local fruit is ripe in which remote spot right now. Lovely!