The Japanese Spring-Hanami
Only in Japan you can truly experience enjoy and appreciate the cherry blossom and its many customs and nuances
When the Japanese say, “life does not end in the winter, but in the spring when it is sakura season”, people outside of Japan may not understand. Japanese perceive cherry blossoms as the beginning of spring, and celebrate in a traditional fashion. The connection between sakura, spring, and “life and death” forms a concrete belief, together with the juxtaposition of romance, melancholy and a rainbow of emotions. Japanese are no strangers to sakura; they appreciate it in a way foreigners cannot completely conceive. It becomes a medium for reflection, a form of leisure, and an opportunity to sit down and appreciate the beauty of nature and its elegance.
The sakura season begins early in the year. Upon entering the beautiful spring, the vast blanket of cherry trees covers the streets and parks, weaving its way around towns and cities, and is eager to appear within sight of every living thing. This captures the attention of print media and broadcasting , and soon word is spread through the nation and out, attracting thousands of foreigners and locals alike.
The sakura serves as a consolation to people, reminding them of the ending of harsh winter and to welcome the warmth of spring. Thus one can observe that families and friends would gather, set up picnic mats, have a toast, eat from bento sets, and banter the day away. Not only does this symbolises the beginning of spring, it is also a new starting point for many—schools starting on their new semesters, and enterprises conducting on their recruitment drives.
The short life span of the cherry blossoms should not be pitied. After their brilliant bloom, the petals flutter to the ground, forming a “carpet of sakura”. It is a pleasant view for every Japanese, for its snow-like scenery is as breathtaking as it is impactful. The nature of sakura is said to serve as a poignant reminder of how life itself is fleeting, and how to view issues with equanimity.
As early as a thousand years ago, the sakura has always been a hit. At that time, Mikado already held the “Hanami” or “flower viewing party”. In came the era of General Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, who then invited his friends to join the party in Kyoto for the “Flower-feast” or “Japan Spring”.
Japanese revere sakura like the “The Finest of Gods”. Claiming the three processes of a sakura bloom as the “beginning, blossoming, and withering”, they see it as extremely ephemeral; as it lasts for only about 10 days. If one misses the chance to catch a glimpse of it before the rain sweeps its fragile petals off the ground, one has to wait until the next spring for that opportunity.
To enjoy the sakura, the Japanese would take a two-month holiday in February, according to the time of the sakura blossoms. They would drive along lines of cherry blossoms to relish the pleasant sensation the Sakura emits. The journey would start from the south of Japan—Kyushu, Okinawa—all the way to the north. This is popularly known as the “Front Line Tracking on Sakura”. Moreover, the path of the cherry blossoms moves in a speed of 20 to 30 kilometres a day, moving fast forward.
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Source > The Travel Times Newsletter 旅遊時光報
Translated by > BlogHost
Word Count > approx. 570 words in English