Thursday, March 29, 2007
The Japanese are relentlessly obsessed with viewing cherry blossoms. The weather report now includes the stages and forecasts of the expected blossom date of the sakura. Benches and lights are set up for maximum flower viewing action (daytime and nighttime) and "hanami" (cherry blossom viewing parties) are a regular part of the springtime ritual, complete with picnic lunches & alcohol.
It's a pretty amazing spectacle that is at once breathtaking and innocent, something that people of all ages can admire and "ooh" & "ahh" over (well, in Japan, the sound is more like "hehhhhhhh?!?!")... it's a bonding time for families, friends, lovers, strangers, kind of like Mother Nature's version of fireworks.
I saw one of the first blossoming trees in Kyoto this weekend, and it was dramatically lit from below and all sides. Tourists and locals would at once gasp, grab hold of their friends and excitedly point and then run over with cameras and cell phones and start snapping away. It surprisingly doesn't get tiresome...
The sakura in Miyazu are JUST starting to bloom- I took these photos today during my lunch break- and I hope I don't miss the massive pink blossoming when I am gone next week!!!
The last picture is of an ancient magnolia tree growing in my landlady's front yard.