Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sakura brings hopes for Japan...

Japan was invincibly on top of my travel wish list for 2011. So I researched the regions of Japan, started reading about their culture, saw movies filmed in Japan, tried Japanese food and everything possible to entice myself. Finally, I was all set to be in Japan on March 26. I had planned to stay in ancient Buddhist temples, visit the alps, soak in the hot spring mountain villages, see beautiful shrines amidst Japanese gardens and spot geisha's. But after planning a very exciting trip, buying my tickets & booking accommodation - a merciless earthquake & tsunami on March 11 decided to shatter my plans & more importantly.....thousands of lives.

I wanted to be in Japan during March/April to see blooming cherry blossoms. In Japan blooming cherry trees are called "sakura". They are throughout Japan and have always been a very significant part of Japanese culture. The blooming of these delicate pink and white blossoms occurs around the end of March or beginning of April. Cherry flowers have short lives. They reach full bloom and fall within one week & this blossoming period is a very special time to be in Japan. Its triggers a nationwide celebration for the Japanese people and parties called "hanami" are organized to view the beauty of blossoming cherry trees throughout Japan.

During this week people gather in great numbers wherever the flowering trees are found. Thousands of people fill the parks to hold feasts under the flowering trees, and sometimes these parties go on until late at night. The hanami celebrations usually involve eating and drinking, and playing and listening music. Some special dishes are prepared and eaten at the occasion, like dango and bento, and it's common for sake to be drunk as part of the festivity.

As I write, the cherry trees have reached full bloom in Tokyo, Kyoto and several other regions in Honshu. This year's cherry blossom festivities will be overshadowed by the tremendous loss caused by the recent earthquake & tsunami. The 2011 blossoming period may not see hanami parties but it still holds special significance. The start of the sakura coincides with the onset of Japan's calendar and fiscal years, which means a new beginning for the Japanese people. Students attend the first day of the school year and new employees begin the first day on the job. This year, sakura will serve as a source of hope, resilience, optimism and motivation along Japan's road to recovery.

All through March Japan has been in my thoughts. Before the quake I was anxious for my trip and after the tragedy my thoughts have been with the people of Japan. My heart goes to those who lost their loved ones in the disaster & the brave workers at the nuclear plant. They sacrificed their health and safety to save the world. My desire to visit Japan and fondness for its people has only increased after reading about the humble way in which they have managed the calamity. I am hoping and praying everything will come to an end and hope Japan will recover and rebuild soon from the catastrophe.

“Sea, I’ll never forgive you in my life even if your waves touch my feet a million times” - A boy who lost his love in the tsunami


  1. Thank you for thinking that way in Japan.
    Now, from Tokyo to western Japan is the cherry blossoms.
    Bloom in late April will be slightly East Japan of the earthquake victims.
    It is a beautiful picture of a cherry tree.
    Please come to Japan someday to see a real cherry.
    Japan is waiting for me to come to you.

    Because it is not good at English, and may be difficult to read Akira Aya. I'm sorry.

  2. Hi, I'm Rei (Japanese). I'm sorry you could not visit Japan this spring. I've been in US for 3 months on business, so I missed Sakura, like you! My friends in Kobe/Kyoto sent me a lot of Sakura photos; Kobe/Kyoto/Osaka area is safe area, very far from the quake-area. They didn't have a big party, but they purely enjoyed Sakura-viewing.
    BTW, Momiji (red, yellow leaves) is also very popular in Japan (Nov/Dec.), as you may know. In old temples/shrines, gardens (trees, stones, or moss) are designed to give beautiful color contrast.
    I'll be happy to hear you'll decide to go to Japan near future!

  3. I feel sorry that the quake ruined your fun too.
    Now cherry front is going up to north and Sakura brings the victims bravery and power to stnad up again like rising sun.
    I hope you can visit Japan during next cherry blossom period.
    If you are interested in geisha, there is an Australian geisha as http://www.sayuki.net/.

  4. Hello, I was moved by your post. BTW the first photo seems to be Ume (Plum) blossoms. Google image with 白梅(hakubai)will show lots of plum blossoms, which is hard to distinguish from cherry blossoms, even for the Japanese children.

  5. A French lady is enjoying Hanami, cherry blossom viewing now as follows.

  6. 日本からです。

  7. ShuichiroJuly 27, 2011 at 1:36 PM


  8. 私は実際にコメントに感動していると私は本当に将来の日本を訪れるのを楽しみにしています..

  9. how nice..... i hope youll see her again one day... i bet u dream of her every night...what you said was soo sweet like the smell of cherry blossoms