Monday, May 3, 2010
In Japan, spring means cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese). Although these blossoms usually only live for a few weeks, during their short lifespan they are the object of total obsession of their surrounding community. Hanami, flower viewing, is an exercise in both adoration and relaxation. Hanami usually consists of a family or group of friends heading to a local park known to be rich with blooming cherry blossoms, spreading out a tarp and enjoying drinks, food and good company under the pink petals. Popular weekends for hanami are often paired with festivals to increase the fun factor. Families take pictures under these sacred trees, admire their short lived beauty and simply enjoy the fact that winter is over. Being quite fond of the outdoors I naturally enjoyed this little outing, but I’ve never been able to appreciate these flowering trees quite like the Japanese. It reminds me a bit of the leaf watches who drive down to the Appalachian Mountains to see the fall foliage in its glory. While we usually don’t make such a social commitment to it as the Japanese do, I was glad to see that the act of simply enjoying one of nature’s most beautiful seasons was not confined to a single culture.