Hello Fancy Lacy Community,
Trust me when I tell you that Spring is the best time to go to Japan.
Spring has sprung in Japan, and besides the warmer temperatures and change in wardrobe, nothing has made that more evident than the blooming of sakura さくら or cherry blossoms. In Japanese history, tradition and culture, sakura are an official marker of spring. Spring is the preferred season by many in Japan, as it is a happy medium between the cold winter, and the very humid summer.
Sakura are quite rampant in Japan, and this being my first spring in Japan, I was very excited to see the trees go from having bare, occasionally snow covered branches to having branches covered, with bright, and colorful sakura. The physical transformation is phenomenal, and so too is the change in atmosphere, as people leave the coldness of winter and enjoy the warmer, lighter temperatures of spring. Beginning as early as late-February, and ending in early May, it is somewhat of a magical season and marks the beginning of a new season and a celebration of life and nature’s beauty.
One cannot talk about sakura and without mentioning hanami はなみ. Hanami is a ritual that dates back to the 710-794 period in Japan, when the emergence of sakura coincided with the end of the rice planting season. It is a period of celebrating life and feasting. As such, today, just as enjoyable as seeing the sakura is partaking in different hanami festivities. Hanami are outdoor parties, very similar to picnics which involve eating and drinking underneath the sakura trees. At night, sakura trees are covered with lanterns to decorate and provide light for the yozakwe (evening hanami) festivities. The atmosphere is merry, the air filled with talking, laughter and sometimes music. The parties often take place in city parks, gardens, along river banks, and anywhere that sakura grows.
Seeing sakura in various settings has been nothing short of phenomenal. There is an entire street outside of the financial district of Nihonbashi, and after work, it is common to see business professionals eating and drinking after work, giving an entirely new meaning to happy hour. I have often stopped mid-run to take pictures along the Sumida River. There is something about the combination of flowers and water that make you stop to admire the scenery. As sakura are in bloom suddenly and briefly, it has been a reminder to stop every so often, observe and enjoy the beauty of life, and live in the moment.
Thank you for reading,