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Sakura season. It’s difficult to explain quite what a frenzy the Japanese whip themselves into during this time. They infuse just about everything with the flavor of cherry blossoms (pastries, drinks, normal food.) and even if it’s not infused it’s quite common around this period to find a cherry blossom leaf or two scattered on your food, whether it adds to the taste or not. Furthermore, Since this season only lasts about two weeks and the trees are entirely dormant the rest of the year, the Japanese people spend most of these two weeks viewing the cherry blossoms. They hold what is called “hanami” parties. Hanami literally means: flower seeing, and that is pretty much what they do. Each town or city in Japan where sakura bloom has its own designated “best sakura spot” and during these two weeks the place is crowded with people who had laid out tarps. They bring grills, and beer, and sit under the cherry blossoms enjoying them and the company of their friends. If I had to equate it to anything in the U.S. I suppose it would have to be July 4th weekend.

Before coming to Japan, and even while here I never got super excited about the cherry blossoms. “Yeah, they’re pretty” I would say, “but come on, they’re not that special.” Now that they are here, though, I’ve had to backtrack a bit. They are quite gorgeous. They are pure white with little pink buds in the center, and the entire tree is covered in them. Of course because they are so special Japan planted like billions of them, which means that it’s not uncommon to see entire streets lined with the sakura tree. It looks ridiculous most of the year because it’s basically dead, but during this period that street turns into just about the most beautiful thing in the world. It perfectly illustrates Japan’s fascination with the fleeting nature of beauty. They have a saying called: “mono no aware.” (pron. Mow noh noh awaray) I may have brought it up before but it might as well have been made for the cherry blossoms. It very well could have been, in fact. “mono no aware” says that, looking at it through the eyes of man, the world is permanent. It will be here and continue to be here long after we are gone. Yet our lives, and the lives of everything within this world, is impermanent. It dies. That sounds depressing, but there’s another aspect to this saying, which is that it dies, but then is reborn. Flowers bloom, then wither, only to re-appear again next year. It’s the same with rice, and even human beings. Japanese see a beauty in this life, death, re-birth life cycle, and so they get pretty psyched about things like this. Their old haiku poetry is filled with “mono no aware.”

Anyway, over the past week or so I’ve attended a hanami and have taken plenty of pictures of these fleeting cherry blossoms, which I would like to share with you all. There are a few pictures in here I really like, but unfortunately nothing spectacular. They give a good picture of what they are like though. Enjoy!


From Sakura

A good shot of the street lined with sakura trees.

I think this may be my favorite of the bunch. I really like the contrast between the white and green, though it’s a tad too dark.

This one is also quite nice

When you lie down it’s almost like the sky becomes sakura! That’s how many there were

Categories: Pre-Japan
  1. dotbearman
    April 7, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    truly exquisite……lucky you……..love foufou

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