I’m not the one to rise and shine on a crack of dawn on a weekend, but I made an exception for May 20th. Justin promised me a day trip to Shibazakura Festival at the base of Mt. Fuji as a birthday treat.
I always loved my birthdays. I never had birthday parties as a kid or a teenager for that matter (it’s complicated), but I still woke up giddy with excitement every year. It was a special day – my day – and I believed that some sort of magic was going to happen. It was up to me to decide what it was. Perhaps, the 20 roses that my mom gifted me, or a delicious strawberry cake she used to make for me. It wasn’t much, but it meant everything to me. I chose it to be my magic of the day, even if the rest of it was quite ordinary.
It took me longer than planned to get ready (as always), but we finally got into the car and set off at 0900 a.m.. Justin put on a podcast Pod Saves America, but it had me lost 20 minutes in. President Trump was the last name I wanted to hear on my birthday. During the 160-minute drive you inevitably let your mind wonder. Jeez, 32 years old. Where does the time fly?! And no, this is not a rant about how old I feel, because I don’t. On the contrary, I am the happiest I have ever been. I feel like I am in the best place possible – in love, living in a wonderful country (for now), working at a great job, with even better side jobs (freelance writing and photography coupled with this blog). Although, besides the obvious and superficial (albeit, very important) aspects of life listed above, I came to fully appreciate life – my life – and there are two main reasons why.
I grew up and spent 27 years of my life in a society where everyone pokes their nose into your business and holds you accountable, and where your life is subjected to constant scrutiny and criticism. “What will others say?” is always on your mind, and thus your actions are aimed at pleasing and impressing others, getting their approval, doing the “right thing.” In my late 20s I came to realize how much I should not care what others think of my life, of what I do. Instead I do things for myself whether or not “they” approve.
On the opposite side of spectrum, I stopped minding others’ life. It is so easy to get sidetracked by looking at social media nowadays: everyone is trying to showcase the best parts of their life. Gifts, travels, purchases, success stories, glamorous meals. And that’s normal. But onlookers should not forget one fundamental thing – everyone is fighting their own personal battle behind the scenes. At the risk of sounding cliché, grass is always greener on the other side. No one’s life is perfect. And because you don’t have what someone else has doesn’t necessarily mean your life is not good enough. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have or could have, I learned to appreciate and cherish what I have. I quite simply stopped comparing my life to someone else’s, my Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20. It doesn’t mean I choose to settle for less. Believe me, I do not. I admire and get inspired by others every day. My dreams and aspirations are sky high, and I work my butt off to make them come true one day. But along the way, it is important to feel grateful and be present and love what you have. Learning to find the joy in little things is as important. I also firmly decided that there is no place for negative people (who disguise themselves as friends) in my life: backstabbing, bitter and utterly jealous personalities with low self-esteem, whose ego thrives on dimming someone else’s light. These are the type of people I quite simply eliminated from my “friend list.”
“You arrived at your destination” – finally, a loud beep of GPS brought me back to reality. We were here! We visited the festival last year too, but it was cloudy and the flowers were not yet in full bloom so we left utterly disappointed. Needless to say, I was thrilled to check it out this year, especially with perfect blue sky and not a single cloud to cover Mt. Fuji. Shibazakura Matsuri is an annual festival that features pink moss or phlox moss called shibazakura. Imagine the delightful vast fields carpeted with colorful flowers with a lush forested mountain on one side, and a glittering lake and Mt. Fuji on the other. The scenery was truly postcard-worthy. The festival is typically held from mid-April through late May. Festival stalls selling pots of pink moss, shibazakura-themed souvenirs, food and local produce complete the experience. They even hold concerts during the day! Oh, and if you have a sweet tooth, then trying one of the decadent themed desserts at the café is a must – sakura eclairs, sakura dewberry, sakura cheesecake, sakura Mont Blanc. You name it, they have it. The matsuri has comprehensive web-site where you can get detailed information on how to get to the Shibazakura Festival, as well as cost and hours. Since the park is located near Fuji Five Lakes it is definitely worth making the day out of it and touring spots like Kawaguchiko Lake, Chureito Pagoda, Oshino Hakkai Village, and Oishi Park.
We had to drive back home to change and head out for dinner later that night, so we didn’t have much time to stick around (sobs for not being able to try the desserts!) and enjoy the festivities.
As I took my last set of photos (more like, the 200th really) and we headed back to the car holding hands, I looked back at Mt. Fuji one last time and smiled. I chose this moment to be my magic of the day.
What is the best birthday memory you have? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.
PIN FOR LATER: