Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cherry Blossoms 花見

  There is perhaps no better sign of spring beginning than seeing flowers bloom. Seeing that first flower open lets you know that winter is finally over, and that life is coming back to the world. The advent of spring in Japan however, is less a subtle opening of one or two daffodils, and more a massive explosion of pink that sweeps over the country-side like some kind festively decorated army. Of course I’m talking about Sakura, the famous Japanese Cherry Blossoms, that cover the landscape of Japan from starting from late March to early May.


  Long considered an important symbol of Japan, Sakura trees exist in great numbers everywhere from Okinawa to Hokkaido, and their flowering is met with much rejoicing and excitement. When the Sakura trees are in full bloom, many Japanese go out and enjoy hanami, literally, “flower viewing.” Hanami can range from a relaxing stroll under some Sakura trees to a rowdy picnic and party in a park, but whatever the method, the practice is extremely popular in Japan.


  Since the weather was so nice this past weekend, a friend and I trekked down to Nara to wander around and do some Hanami. We were clearly far from the only ones with this idea though, as Nara city was jam-packed with people enjoying the Sakura and weather.


  Seika has quite a few Sakura trees as well, and they’ve even bloomed in front of the Town Office.


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