…now that the cherry blossoms are there.
It’s spring time in Japan, and my thoughts go to my friends, and to hanami.
Hanami parties are just one of the many social events the Japanese love, most of which have to do with celebrating the seasons rather than national or religious themes. Hanami are all about the cherry blossoms.
A hanami features friends picnicking on blankets or plastic tarps under the boughs of a cherry tree, laden with its delicate blossoms, so crucial to the Japanese soul. Cherry blossoms are pretty, no doubt, but to the Japanese they also express the fleeting beauty of life itself: Springing out of the earth, exploding in a blaze of glory, lifting the spirit, and then, slowly, fluttering to earth and covering the ground in a carpet of light pink.
There is also a lot of food and drink: Sushi, karage (fried chicken), rice balls and of course, sake. And potato chips – Japan is a civilized country, after all.
Last April, I was in Kyoto with some beautiful, delightful people, enjoying hanami. They may do that this year – some Japanese are reportedly no better at social distancing than a lot of Americans are – but many will not. I won’t, my first time in several years. For those in Japan, there will be a pall over this year’s hanami, as there is all over the world.
So, in the spirit of hanami, and as a love letter to my usual spring home, Kyoto, here are some shots I took last year of Kyoto’s beautiful cherry blossoms. Kanpai, friends!