After three weeks of sad news from Japan, I’m pleased to talk about something more uplifting and inspiring, a phenomenon that has survived a thousands of years of change. I am talking about the annual celebration of the cherry blossom (sakura/桜).
The Japanese have enjoyed flower viewing, in particular, the flowering of sakura for over a thousand years. This practice is known as hanami (花見). These days, people enjoy hanami by sitting with friends or family under the blossoming trees on blue tarpaulins dancing to music, downing a feast of food and chugging down copious amounts of alcohol.
Below is a map provided by the Japanese Weather Association (Japanese link) that charts the progress of the blooming sakura flowers. At the time of posting, sakura season has progressed through much of the southern part of Japan, including the cities of Osaka and Tokyo.
It is expected that the devastated Tohoku area will see the blossoming sakura in mid-to-late April. I hope that even for a brief moment, this representation of normality is able to take their minds away from the sadness that has befallen them.
Some photos from Flickr of the sakura this season: