Hanami (花見, literally "looking at flowers") is the Japanese word for the leisurely activity of observing sakura, or cherry blossoms. Last Saturday, I took the liberty of an afternoon away from schoolwork and internship applications, grabbed my camera and embarked on a mini-adventure in search of the most spectacular cherry blossoms around Yale. Needless to say, I was far from being disappointed — and so here's a little photographic guided tour, pinpointing highlights on my little expedition, complete with photos I took in these locations. Enjoy, and see them yourself, before they're gone.
1. Branford Courtyard Swing
I started my afternoon Hanami stroll in Branford, because the three glorious cherry trees (or rather, some sort of close cousin to cherry trees) next to the dining hall entrance were impossible to ignore.
During fall they produce some sort of strange, round, small orange fruit, while earlier this year their blossoms died collectively from the freezing rain. Yet here they are, blossoming in all their mighty magenta glory.
2. Beneath Harkness Tower
Although Friday night's rain (or the constant drones of the incredibly loud Harkness Bells) swept away much of the remnants of spring, some of these tiny white petals persisted. Blossoming amongst fresh chartreuse leaves, they're the perfect soft and dreamy visual accompaniment to the magnificent tower.
3. Berkeley College North Court
There's one tall cherry tree in Berkeley College North Court that has miraculously outlived all of its cousins in the other residential colleges. Clusters of students can be found under the tree, chatting, reading, napping or having a picnic. Occasionally a few songbirds sing in unison from somewhere among the cherry petals.
4. Yale Center for Language Studies
Walk past Silliman and SSS and you'll get to the Center for Language Studies — also known as hell for those poor souls that had to take their weekly/biweekly French/Chinese oral exams here.
Yet at least the demise of your GPA can be made more beautifully tragic by the thick carpet of cherry blossom petals covering the lawn just outside. This is what the floors of heaven look like, and with that, the pains of oral exams pale in comparison.
5. East Asian Languages Department
Further down the road, you'll find a few cherry trees adorning the East Asian Languages Department. My Japanese professor always said that his office had the nicest view, and in winter I didn't quite understand that statement. But I do now; these blossoms are in their full glory and won't fade away anytime soon.
6. Yale University Admissions Office
Take a left at the next intersection and walk up one block before turning right and walking up another block. Past Luce Hall you'll find the Admissions Office, where your college application materials may have been processed, scrutinized, judged, discussed, stored away or discarded as the committee made their final decision.
On my walk, the doors were tightly shut and the blinds were drawn — either because it wasn't a workday, or that they were really, really secretive. But that meant I had an obstructed view of the large cherry tree planted in the front lawn, its branches gently swaying and its blossoms trembling in the warm spring breeze.
7. Between Dunham Lab and SSS
Walk (roll) down Science Hill until you reach the comfort zone of human dwelling again. Now, try to contain your excitement and not jump at the "Schwarzman Center" (read: endowment), but rather take a moment and sit down on one of the stone benches just behind SSS.
Close your eyes and inhale in the fragrances of fresh spring flowers, and bask in the quiet ruffles of tender blossoms brushing against each other. Walk around and you may bump into a few squirrels and a cat who dwells the Psychology Department.
8. Grove Cemetery
Although the idea of visiting a cemetery can sound macabre on a fine spring day, the clouds of bright pink blossoms exploding with colors, scent and joy of life in the little cemetery serve as reminders that with death comes life, and with the end comes a new beginning.
9. Swing Space
Walk further up the road until you almost reach Swing Space, and you'll find a couple of cherry trees in full bloom.
Every now and then some passersby would walk up, snap a few (read: a ton of) photos and pose next to the twigs blanketed with a thick layer of cherry blossoms.
Here is where I ended my little expedition around Yale's central campus, hunting for cherry blossoms, but everyone should take some time off from school and internships to stroll around spontaneously, basking in a warm spring breeze and catch the cherry blossoms before they disappear. We all wish these beautiful blossoms could stay around forever, yet maybe somethings aren't meant to last forever, and their sheer beauty stems from their ephemeral existence — right?