The weather has turned warm here in Tokyo. From chilly 40’s and 50’s, we have jumped up into the warm and pleasant 70’s. Flowers are blooming and the trees are leafing out and turning green. In Japan, the quintessential symbol of springtime is Sakura. The Sakura — cherry trees — have been blooming for a couple of weeks now, and all the parks have been filled with people walking under the trees, stopping to take photos of the blossoms, and picnic-ing with friends and family under the beautiful trees. Hanami — hana meaning “flower,” and mi (verb, mimasu) meaning “to watch” — is one of the most anticipated and celebrated times of the year for the Japanese. Sakura-themed products abound… from simple product packaging, to pink versions of foods and drinks.
Now, however, the trees are “snowing” flower petals all over the place, and the Japanese have a word for this too: Hanafubuki — again, hana meaning “flower,” and fubuki, meaning “snowstorm.” The petals pile up on the sidewalks and under the trees like pale pink snowdrifts, and they float along on the rivers and canals in large pink swirls. In Japanese Buddhist tradition, this cycle represents the ephemural, and impermanent nature of this beautiful life experience, and catching a falling petal is supposed to assure good fortune.
There are still plenty of the late blooming varieties of Sakura displaying their pretty petals, but Hanami Season 2018 is waning. The blossoms will all fall, and we will move on to other beautiful flowers and trees… next the azalea, then wisteria, hydrangea, and on and on until the colorful leaves fall next autumn. The lesson here? Maybe… that we cannot hold on to the beautiful things in life. They each have to be enjoyed in their moment.
Spring tulips in Hibiya Park.
And other springtime blooms…