It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s cherry blossom season!  As silly as it sounds, the blooming of the sakura trees is probably the most important event of the year in Japan.  Although very agnostic as a nation, Japanese people are fanatical in the springtime, devoting as much time as possible to hanami and tree illuminations—first for plum blossoms, then (especially) cherry trees, then peach orchards.  I’ve often wondered if Japan’s a-religiousness is due in part to the strong role natural phenomena play in the cultural consciousness.  First snow, spring equinox, cherry blossoms, summer fireworks festivals, autumn equinox, the fall colors– these extra-religious events mark time and provide alternative annual traditions to ritualize the year and give rhythm to life.

Sakura in Hinokicho Park, across the street from my house.

Hinokicho Park

In case you were wondering, the tallest building in Tokyo is the Midtown Tower, on the other side of the park from my apartment in Roppongi.

Hinokicho Park

Illumination in Roppongi

You might remember these trees from the Christmas illumination.

Illumination in Roppongi

Towards the end of sakura season, the blustery March weather blows little pink petals off the trees en masse.  It’s called 花吹雪 (hanafubuki) which means “flower blizzard”.  The petals blanket the ground and form small drifts, just like snow storm.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Petal Drifts

Hanami in Ueno Park, arguably the most famous cherry blossoms in Japan.

Ueno Koen

Other special cherry blossom vocabulary:

花見酒 (hanamizake) – sake drunk while viewing cherry blossoms

花明かり(hana-akari) – the brilliance of cherry blossoms which illuminate the evening

桜花爛漫 (oukaranman) – the glory of cherry blossoms fully in bloom

花衣 (hanagoromo) – kimono used for cherry blossom viewing

桜前線 (sakura zensen) – cherry blossom front (Like a warm front or cold front.  Japan stretches over 800 miles, so sakura bloom on the warmer southern islands first.  Sakura season moves north little by little as the country warms with spring.  The nightly news keeps everyone informed about when the “cherry blossom front” will arrive in their region.)

Ueno Koen

 

Ueno Koen

Cherry Blossoms at Sophia University (one more reason to love the Jesuits)

At Sophia University

At Sophia University

SAMSUNG

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s