Last Sunday, I decided to checked out Ueno Park, Tokyo for the much awaited Cherry Blossom season in Japan. I don’t have much expectation that I will be able to spot Sakura in full bloom due to recent reports that the slow transition between winter and spring has caused seasonal delay. But to my surprise, the usually crowded Ueno Park became even more crowded, as there are several flowers which already turned into the perfect color of pink and white and everyone is looking up.
“Hanami” (flower viewing) is a century old practice among Japanese that simply refers to a stroll in the park or a picnic under a Sakura tree while enjoying its beautiful bloom. If you decided to go for a picnic, you have to be there early or at least assigned one person to reserve a spot for your group, since it’s a yearly tradition for many families and friends, so to find a mat, say two in the afternoon will be difficult.
For those like me who don’t have the numbers to occupy a picnic mat or consider them self as weekend traveler/photographer, you can still enjoy this season by appreciating the flowers up close or in a beautiful blend with temples or shrines.
Cherry Blossom is a metaphor of the “here today, gone tomorrow” nature of life, believe to be in reference to Buddhism influence. As a seasonal flower, it reaches its birth, peak and death in matter of weeks. The influence in Japanese culture of Sakura can be easily seen on almost everything- kimono, plates, stationery, bags.
I will be spending most of my weekends roaming around the city parks enjoying the color of pink while it lasts. Stay tune for more Hanami report.