Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sakura: The Real Deal

Alls I heard about for the entire winter was how nice spring was going to be and how beautiful the sakura (cherry blossom) trees are when they're in bloom. To say it's anticipated is an understatement. I wasn't sure if Japanese really loved sakura that much, or they would just say anything to get their minds off the disgusting winter and into the warm spring. It became almost mythical to hear about, and people's eyes would glitter as if they were reminiscing about Christmas morning as a child.

In short, it was indeed all it was cracked up to be. The sight of sakura in bloom was gorgeous. It just completely transforms the brown horizons I`d stared at the entire winter and completely changes the atmosphere. I think the change in scenery, the tradition and nostalgia of it, and the fact that they`re so short lived is all part of the appeal and majestic-ness. Sakura only last for 1-2 weeks and weatherman give like an hourly update on when and where they`ll be in bloom.

"Hanami" is the Japanese word for "cherry blossom viewing", but it generally means you rally the troops and have a picnic and make a day/night of it. I think it`s sweet that one word is dedicated to the picnic you can have for like 2 days out of an entire year. Anyway, the pictures below are our version of hanami. It was in a park a 10 minute bike ride from my house (and if you spotted that red and white bike in the background that looks out of place in a nation full of mama cherry bikes - keen eye! And it`s mine, all mine).

Some people brought food, some brought beverages; I brought both AND catch phrase - I WIN!

The following pictures are all "borrowed" from It's an awesome site about culture in Japan that some Spanish guy updates daily. And he, like Alex, takes far superior pictures than me, thus doing far better justice to capturing sakura via photography than I have this year.

In Tokyo...
as seen by the blending of massive buildings and beautiful parks.

Yozakura (night sakura) in Tokyo.
It`s tradition to hang paper lanters throughout the parks for the purpose of yoakura.
As the sakura begin to die, the wind blows them off the trees and it gives the impression of snow falling. It`s a scene used in many romantic scenes of Japanese film and novels and I can now understand why. I mean, not from experience or anything, but the imagination works wonders!

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