When I found out we would be moving to Japan, I was so excited for cherry blossom (sakura) season! We arrived in June so we missed it that year. This is our first year to see cherry blossoms. They have just begun to bloom and are already beautiful.
Hanami (literally translated as flower viewing but is synonymous with cherry blossom viewing) is an age old tradition in Japan. People go out and have picnics under the sakura trees. Of course, the most beautiful spots are coveted and people travel to places like Hirosaki Castle and other sites.
Hanami can occur wherever cherry blossoms are…which is pretty much everywhere! I think this year hanami will take a particular importance since the aftermath of the earthquake tsunami. Cherry blossoms are extremely symbolic because of the transience of the blossoms. Their extreme beauty and quick death have often been associated with mortality.
This year our “hanami” occurred close to home, at the Train Park in Misawa and the streets of Towada. We planned on going to Hirosaki earlier, but our tour was cancelled because the flowers are blooming late this year.
We won’t be in Japan for the rest of the cherry blossom season since we are attending a funeral overseas. It seems beautiful and poetic that we got a glimpse of beautiful sakura beforehand. After all, that is the lesson of the cherry blossom: you have to savor life while you can.