Serious about Sakura

Can you feel the change in the air? Spring has returned!! The mercury has hit the 20s and the cherry blossoms have started to show their pretty faces!

It’s a great time to be in Japan. The whole country seems to be buzzing with excitement. In Tokyo, the sakura (cherry blossom tree) season officially began on March 23rd, and the flowers should be in full bloom in a couple of days time. I’ve already been to 3 sakura viewing spots in Tokyo, and will hit up lots more places over the next week! It’s a good thing I’m on spring holidays right now – no work, all play!

As you can imagine, the sakura are kind of a big deal in Japan. Of course, there are many people who actually take the time to appreciate their beauty and delicate nature, but I feel like the flowers are becoming increasingly over-commercialised (as much as is possible for a flower, anyway!). Businesses sure know how to capitalise on the popularity of something. From sakura-flavoured ice cream, to special sakura packaging, to whole station entrances being covered in images of sakura, for about 2 months of the year it is pink pink pink everywhere! It reminds me of Christmas time when everything turns red and green, the department stores become packed with Christmas trees and decorations, and Christmas jingles are played 24/7. The novelty factor can be a bit too much sometimes, but I think it’s fun to change things up with these limited edition products. It definitely keeps things interesting!

While the nation becomes sakura-ized, meteorologists have the very serious and extremely high-pressure job of predicting when the sakura will actually bloom. The whole country relies on the information they give! The sakura forecast maps start to appear around early to mid-March, and people immediately start planning their hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties! This year, the predicted season start date (when the buds begin to open) was March 24th, with the best viewing period happening between April 1st-8th. It’s literally a show that lasts less than 3 weeks. Is there any other flower that has this short of a lifespan??

Sakura

If you thought that was insanely precise, wait to you see what happens next. In the week before the forecasted season, things get even more serious. We start to see live maps that show what stage of blooming the flowers are at. At my favourite event website, Walkerplus, we can see the progress through 7 stages. It starts with つぼみ (buds), then comes 咲き始め (starting to bloom), 5分咲き (50% bloomed), 7分咲き (70% bloomed), 満開 (full bloom), 散り始め (starting to fall), and lastly 青葉 (green leaves).

SakuraSpring is a fun time to be in Japan. I will never get sick of it! If you want to visit Japan and see the cherry blossoms, it’s really a gamble as to when they’ll be fully bloomed, but being here before/after April 1st is usually a safe bet. There are early and late blooming varieties anyway, so even if you miss the peak period you’ll still be able to enjoy this spectacle!

 

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15 thoughts on “Serious about Sakura

  1. Hi Celia,
    An interesting take on Sakura and the reference to being similar to Christmas is spot on. Is Maccas still doing a pink bun to celebrate the season? I’m looking forward to seeing your pics of the little pink flowers. Enjoy!!
    John

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  2. 東京都内でも まだ つぼみのところや もう 咲き誇(ほこ)っているところも あって、
    これから2週間もの間、あちらこちらで お花見をたのしめますね。
    インターネットが 普及(ふきゅう)したおかげで、各地域(かくちいき)の 桜の咲き具合(ぐあい)が すぐわかるので、
    とても便利になりました。見ごろが 4月8日まで 続くようで、桜が満開のときに 入学式に参加できるなんて、
    とても しあわせでしょう。サントリーのビール缶(かん)は 夜桜のようで、とてもうつくしいですね。

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    • お天気は金曜日からけっこう悪くなりそうなので、月から木の間にたくさんの桜見をしたいです!美しい桜を見るのを楽しみにしています〜 もし入学式の日は雨だったら残念ですね。

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  3. Indeed Celia, it must be an exciting time, the way Sakura captures the imagination of a whole nation. The colour pink is soothing and the talking something pleasant about the nature and waiting with eagerness to see the pretty faces of the cheery blossom. It is always good to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature, but very true in today’s world everything we can we exploit and commercialize to an extent that it loses it significance. We need to careful. There is always this challenge of striking a balance between human engagement with nature and nurturing it rather than negate the very nature that is providing us that space to cherish and enjoy.

    The Sakura ice-cream looks very tempting, hope you are eating for all of us, and leaving no space for us to complain…your lovely advice taken, when planning to travel to Tokyo…the dates are in my calender written…Spring and April…
    Enjoy the spring vacation and make full use of the time on hand with the nature.
    Cheers Sakura!!!

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    • So true… I guess with Sales and Marketing, their priority is making money! Consumerism is alive and well, and doesn’t look like it’ll slow down anytime soon. It’s in our hands to ensure we don’t forget how precious and special nature can be.

      I do hope you can visit Japan in the springtime sometime!

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      • Indeed. we are into a world of consumerism…you are true we cannot stop the sales and marketing…money continues to drive our existence. Also many people are realizing the value of spiritualism…they are looking for peace and harmony. Nothing can be better than human being balancing their act and co-existing with nature.

        Yes, I will visit and do so in the springtime.
        Have a great week ahead…
        :D

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