We recently enjoyed a stroll through the grounds of the Odawara plant of the National Printing Bureau (国立印刷局), or what I call Odawara Mint since many of Japan’s yen banknotes are printed there.
It is a short stroll from home and is normally closed to the public for obvious security reasons, but within the grounds are many old sakura (cherry blossom) trees and for one weekend of the year the security gates open to allow people in to appreciate the trees at the all-too-brief peak of their bloom.
We had heard the mint may not open this year, but were pleased to see that it had, although it was less busy than I remember it being when I visited in 2007. Some people were taking quiet strolls, a few were enjoying picnic lunches, and some (us included) bumped unexpectedly into friends.
We also had heard that there would be none of the usual food stands, but some things were still in operation, including novelties such as Japanese yen patterned biscuits and bath towels. Keira was happy to accept some biscuit fragments while making a small donation to Tohoku disaster relief.