Springtime Sakura in the Deep South
Trip Start Jun 27, 2009
48Trip End Jun 25, 2011
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The Japanese have the cherry tree blossoming down to a science and every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the sakura zensen (cherry-blossom front) on television, and in newspapers. The Japanese pay very close attention to these forecasts and plan their picnics accordingly. Most Japanese schools and public buildings have sakura trees outside of them. Since the fiscal and school year both begin in April, in many parts of Honsh¨±, the first day of work or school coincides with the cherry blossom season
Here's a bit of hanami history from Wikipedia...."During the Heian Period (794¨C1191), the Japanese nobility sought to emulate many practices from China including the social phenomenon of flower viewing (hanami: »¨̉S), where the imperial households, poets, singers, and other aristocrats would gather and celebrate under the blossoms. In Japan, cherry trees were planted and cultivated for their beauty, for the adornment of the grounds of the nobility of Kyoto, at least as early as 794. In China, the ume "plum" tree (actually a species of apricot) was held in highest regard, but by the middle of the ninth century, the sakura had replaced the plum as the favored species in Japan."
In Japan the cherry blossoms are believed to exemplify the transient nature of life, because of their short blooming times. During World War II, the sakura was used to motivate and manipulate the Japanese people, to promote nationalism and militarism among the people. Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their planes before going on a suicide mission, or even take branches of the trees with them on their missions!
In its colonial enterprises, imperial Japan often planted cherry trees as a means of "claiming occupied territory as Japanese space." For this reason, the symbolic import of the cherry trees is quite different in Korea, where the trees at Seoul's Gyeongbok Palace were cut down to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
In the United States sakura have a different meaning
Enough boring stuff!!!
Like I said earlier, immediately after being picked up from the airport from India, I went to the castle in the capital city of my prefecture for night-time flower viewing party! It was lots of fun and the sakura trees were especially pretty at night light up by japanese style lanterns. Can't get enough of the Japanese festival atmosphere. The next day we drove to Nara for another daytime picnic which was also really pretty-unfortunately I broke my camera so I don't have many pictures from that day :( That next weekend a few of us drove up to Nachi waterfall to dye easter eggs under the sakura. Lots of fun as well!
There's a typhoon passing through today, and I'm at the Board of Ed. office just sitting here...so I might try and keep writing more things that I haven't posted about yet.
Home in 75 days!