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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #123: April 22, 2003

Cherry blossoms weave magic in Japan

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Cherry blossoms weave magic in Japan"
(by Linda Sieg, Reuters) New Zealand Heral


A book almost anyone seriously wanting to know about Japan would come across is "Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture" written by Ruth Benedict published in 1946. After more than half a century the book is still referred to globally in discussing Japan.

One of the superficial effects of the book is for some scholars to have acquired the image that chrysanthemum is a flower to represent Japan. Although there were very good reasons for Benedict to choose this title, one certainly being how chrysanthemum was woven into Japanese mentality in various ways, currently majority of Japanese people would propose (certain types of) Cherry Blossoms to represent Japan and what pertains to it.

As written in the article, there are "crowds of Japanese people flocking to indulge in the country's annual obsession of cherry blossom viewing" this time of the year. It does not last long, though. Full bloom worthy of admiration could last for a couple of days, followed by another couple of days for the petals to fall as if warm and pink snow that would dance in the wind and linger along curbsides. While for someone stuck in the office for a week may not even recognize such an event taking place, if you could sit quietly among the trees, you might actually feel the flow of time and passing of seasons with your senses.

The article was originally written by a noted reporter at Reuters, but the NZ paper was chosen here deliberately to convey it. People from down under (talking about a discriminatory phrase!) would often express a strong affection toward Jacaranda, a tree with blue-purple blossoms during their spring, which some have commented to be similar to the relation between Japanese and cherry blossoms.

Perhaps the most famous place where Cherry Blossoms can be admired outside Japan is in Washington DC, around the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial along the Potomac River. The season is short, as noted above, and this year it was the first week in April. Another in the area is Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ, where it was reported to be in full bloom last weekend. It might last for another couple of days and falling petals may be enjoyed toward this weekend, if the weather is favorable until then.

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