Capybara sakura

As our readers may be well aware, we Japanese have a passion for the sakura, or cherry trees, turning it into a huge social event when they’re in bloom each spring, even though they last for only about a week. We’re also quite fond of capybaras, as you can tell from the way we delight in pampering them in hot spring baths, and also creating mascot characters out of them as well. Well, we’re right in the middle of sakura season in Tokyo now, and we’ve found a cute little picture that combines these two seemingly unrelated subjects in a delightfully unexpected way. Yes, straight from Ueno, one of the most famous sakura-viewing areas in Tokyo, we bring to you this lovely photo that has captured the hearts of Japanese netizens and gives renewed meaning to the Japanese expression, “hana yori dango.”

The phrase “hana yori dango” literally means “dumplings over flowers” and is usually used in a teasing way to refer to someone who prefers food (something of substance) over something beautiful or romantic (and yes, the title of the popular comic and drama was taken from this expression, although in that title they’ve played with the chinese characters in the word dango to make it mean boy instead of dumplings). And this picture, which was shared in a tweet from Ueno Zoo, one of the largest zoos in Japan, captures perfectly what seems to be a “grass over flowers” (hana yori kusa) moment.

Now, we have no way of knowing what was going through this capybara’s mind when the picture was taken, but he (or she) certainly seems happy munching at the grass, completely oblivious to the lovely cherry blossoms in bloom right in front of him. Personally, I have to say I can completely identify with the capybara, since I’m admittedly also a dumplings (or cake or pizza or sushi, for that matter) over flowers type of person.

▼Do you prefer flowers …Capybara flower

▼… or dango dumplings?Capybara dango

Well, the look of bliss on the capybara’s face is certainly a treat for us, possibly as much as the beautiful cherry blossoms. We’re grateful to the people at the Ueno Zoo for sharing such a delightful shot with us, and we hope the capybaras there can keep looking as content as the little guy in this picture!

Source and top image: Ueno Zoo Twitter account (Japanese)
Inset cherry blossom image: TANAKA Juuyoh
Inset dumpling image: Kiyonobu Ito