The final installment on the Hanami series presents the lively antics at Inokoshira Park in Kichijoji. This setting was the most playful and eclectic: packed to the rim with people, picnicking, boating, strolling, and a delightful temple dedicated to Benzaiten actually situated in the parks’ pond.
The colors of this temple, crimson red, cobalt blue with touches of gold and bright accents, gave it an enchanting, folk-like quality. It was right at home in Kichijoji, a community known for its artistic and creative flair. I later found out that Benzaiten—is the Japanese name for the Hindu Goddess Sarasvati whom symbolizes everything that flows–water, words, speech, eloquence, music and knowledge. She is also a protector deity attributed to granting monetary fortune. Snake and dragon imagery are also associated with her. In fact, there is dragon shaped statue Bentin in the form of a fountain, at the back of the main temple, where you can wash your coins to help bring you wealth and luck.
I loved being amongst the jubilant crowds covering every inch of the park. There literally wasn’t one spot to sit down. People had claimed their territory with large blue tarps or make shift tables and were not budging. The pond was crowded with amusing pastel hued and duck shaped boats. I was amused by the fable that Yuri Nakumara told me–there is a common belief that couples that ride the duck boats together will break up. It was fun to watch the boaters attempt to navigate the pond without crashing into each other!