It's official: Tokyo's cherry trees are in blossom
Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE
"It's official: Tokyo's cherry trees are in blossom"
(Elaine Lies) Reuters
"Washington in bloom"
The Related Article above appropriately starts out by saying, "Cherry blossoms are a sign of spring in the nation's capital, and visitors who don't take time to stop and smell the season's flowers are missing both a visual and sensual treat."
As the title of the article itself indicates, this is about Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States where cherry blossoms have become one of the favorite decorations for the many historic and other sites in the city. The cherry trees were originally presented from Japan in 1912 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Commodore Matthew C. Perry's visit to Japan in 1852 which lead to modern and friendly relations between the two countries.
It might worth noting that during a hundred and fifty years since then, the two countries felt hostile against each other for only six years, while at other times the relationship was significantly amicable than what may be described as ordinary. Rather a good record compared to many and various relations of not only among nations, but all the way down to individual people's levels.
The opening description cited above for Washington, D.C. actually fits Japan very well. In the case of Japan, however, it is not only the capital, Tokyo, but literally everywhere across the country.
April is the beginning month for many activities in Japan, Fiscal, and Social and otherwise. Fiscal year begins in April for the national and regional governments, and just about every public institution. A large majority of Japan's corporations' accounting period also begin in April despite there are no legal requirements to do so. Some do so because it is often convenient to participate in public projects, directly or indirectly, so that the budgets and payments could match the timings of the clients, while some say they chose to join the majority so as to make it easier to compare and analyze performance with other companies.
But perhaps most notable is in the education sector. Except for very few university or higher-level institutions, April is the beginning of a school year, from kindergartens to colleges, where newly admitted pupils and students start their new levels of study in the amalgam of hope and anxiety.
So, for Japanese people, beginning of April provokes the feeling of something new and fresh, in a way like the New Year's but in a brighter sunlight and moderate temperature.
And, on top of all this, to further heighten that notion of 'spring' are the cherry blossoms. The quiet but dignified pink color and the short lives of the blossoms lasting only a few days before falling, induce the sense of both joy and transience to many Japanese.
This does not mean that a foreigner cannot enjoy Sakura (cherry blossoms). Even first-time visitors to Japan shall be touched to see blossoms drifting down in a wind known as hanafubuki (literally means blizzard of flowers), and viewing yo-zakura (cherry blossom at night) should be a memorable experience.
There may be Japanese who do not like cherry blossoms so much, but even they could not deny that Sakura represents certain qualities of Japan, and its people and culture.