Simple urge leads to extremely Japanese photo-op.
For photography buffs, sakura season is really a magical time. Especially when the petals of the cherry blossoms start to fall, the fluttering pink flowers add a breathtakingly ethereal appeal to the surroundings, allowing a talented photographer to capture a singularly beautiful moment.
So when Japanese Twitter user @wdche was walking along a river in Kyoto and saw a gray heron in the water, situated beneath a paper lantern covered with Japanese characters and standing in the center of a whirl of sakura petals, he took aim and started snapping photos. Truly, can there be any more quintessentially Japanese scene than one aspect of nature, an elegant bird, transfixed by the beauty of another, the country’s most beloved flower?
It turns out, though, that that’s not exactly what’s happening here. Yes, the heron is rooted to that spot, but not because of the cherry blossoms. The reason it likes that spot is because it’s directly below the outlet for the exhaust fan of a branch of Tamaran Aje, a restaurant that specializes in yakiniku flat-grilled meats and horumon (organs), as indicated by the lantern’s text, and the bird is enjoying the smell.
But that down-to-earth motivation doesn’t make the aesthetics any less beautiful. Before long, a group of foreign passersby noticed @wdchs snapping pictures and pulled out cameras of their own, so then @wdche decided to photograph the people photographing the bird he’d been photographing moments before.
One of them was even dressed in a kimono, adding yet another layer of Japanese imagery to the scene.
Through it all, the heron stayed in place, unfazed by being the center of so much attention. In Japan, there’s a saying, hana yori dango, “Dumplings before flowers,” which refers to people at cherry blossom parties being more interested in eating snacks than looking at the flowers. But as one commenter pointed out after seeing @wdche’s phots, this heron has gone a step beyond even that, dubbing its philosophy “Dumplings before flowers, but looking good on social media pics before either,” because really, there’s no wrong way to enjoy the cherry blossoms.