They maybe little buds but they are big obsession in Japan.
Nightly news bulletins track the progress of the “front” moving across the country at some unpredictable time in April or May. Anticipation reaches fever pitch as people everywhere prepare to make pilgrimages to their favorite vantage points around the country. Yes it’s cherry blossom season in Japan once again!
The tradition of formal blossom appreciation and viewing goes back centuries. In Kyoto and Nara, for instance special viewing pavilions were built for the aristocracy specifically for this purpose. Today Maruyama Park in Kyoto’s Gion district is where numerous drinking parties are held under the blossoms in a cathartic mass-shedding of the usual Japanese reserve. And the grounds of the Osaka Mint heave with citizens trying to catch a glimpse of what reputedly among the finest examples of the nation’s most cherished and celebrated asset.
Over 150 varieties exist, varying in terms of size, color and exact blooming time. Why the big fuss over these precious pink petals? For many Japanese, the cherry blossom epitomizes the fleeing nature of beauty and purity, the concepts of transience and impermanence that imbue so many aspects of Japanese culture, psyche, and even identity. During World War II Japan’s notorious kamikaze suicide pilots were even romanticized as human cherry blossoms, their young lives abruptly ending after supposedly dazzling moment of glory.
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