Sakura, Sakura

Cherry blossoms (sakura) are_DSC8368 revered in Japan. Sakura and flowers (hana) in general permeate Japanese culture in music, poetry, drawings, etc. Japanese weather forecasters have a “blossom forecast” (sakura-zensen) and are under great pressure to accurately predict when the cherry blossoms will open and when the peak of the blossoms will occur. Depending on the weather and elevation, blossoms will open at different times throughout Japan. We were fortunate to hit the peak of the cherry blossoms during the first half of our trip.

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The first taste of cherry blossoms we got was the morning of our very first day in Japan in Yokohama. A large park just blocks from the house of our hosts was home to some old, very large cherry blossom trees which were in full bloom. Blossoms collected on the ground and on the pond giving the appearance of a light dusting of snowflakes.

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In many parks with blossoming trees, tarps are placed on the ground to allow passersby to sit down and enjoy viewing the blossoms. There is a word for this, hanami, which literally means “flower viewing.” You will see college students, families, couples and individuals sitting under the trees enjoying a picnic, socializing, or whatever, but mostly taking in the beauty of the flowering trees.

Sakura don’t get all the attention. All flowers and plants are appreciated for their beauty:

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_DSC8718Azaleas (tsutsuji), tulips (“tu-lee-pu”), plum (ume) blossoms, they all are appreciated for their individual transitory beauty.

At cropped-dsc87091.jpgtimes, trees can be so laden with blossoms one can hardly see the branches. One of our hostesses commented that this tree’s blossoms appeared all to be peering back at us.

While in Kyoto, I saw many women wearing the traditional kimono which I find very beautiful. These two young women were kind enough to let me take their picture. Their white kimono with the white sakura behind them is an image which will forever be tied in my memory to this portion of the trip.

kimono

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