Though it is still slightly cold in Japan, we are starting to see hints of spring. Spring is a joyous time in Japan, and people celebrate the upcoming spring even before the temperature starts to rise. The famous Seattle based coffee chain, has started selling a cherry blossom (sakura) flavored beverage. The new fiscal year commences during spring, making it a time for hellos and goodbyes, as people start jobs and enter or graduate from schools. Also, as flowers start to bloom and the sun warms up the cold winter air, people go out and enjoy picnics, especially under the fully blossomed cherry trees. Spring is full of new beginnings and beautiful Japanese culture.
Cherry trees, or sakura, are an iconic Japanese symbol for spring. Hanami, which literally means looking at flowers, is a popular event that Japanese people and tourists enjoy. It is so popular, that some people go to famous cherry tree parks before sunrise, and lay down plastic sheets to reserve their space. During the day, families, friends, and couples are seen enjoying the fully blossomed cherry trees. Some people have hanami picnics during the night, drinking alcohol, talking with friends, and enjoying the night view of illuminated cherry trees. However, some people tend to get too drunk, and leave their garbage behind. The trees are extremely fragile and are very difficult to grow because insects easily damage the tree trunk and branches. Therefore, the trees and their little pink flowers are for viewing only. After the flowers have fully blossomed, the petals start to fall off and are gently blown by the wind, before settling on the ground. This phenomenon is magical, as the numerous trees rain sakura petals, leaving a soft pink carpet.
The new fiscal year begins during the beginning of April, and the whole of Japan gets busy with moving homes, buying new furniture, and getting ready for new schools and jobs. Spring is an exciting time in Japan, as you get to meet new people, and start a new chapter of your life.