Cherry blossoms and my childhood
We are one month away from cherry blossom season in Japan. Have you seen cherry blossoms? In this article, I want to talk about cherry blossoms in Japan and why this special flower bring back both good and bittersweet childhood memories.
The Blooming period is defined as that period when 20 percent of the blossoms are open until the petals fall and leaves appear. (nationalcherryblossomfestival.org)
The start of the blooming period typically start in late March but it varies each year. Cherry blossoms are very important to Japanese people because it’s an unofficial national flower of Japan. Also, many festivals and celebrations take place during the blooming season.
I remember our family did the Hanami (“flower viewing” in Japanese) but it refers to cherry blossoms, not just random flowers. We wait for almost a whole year to see the beautiful blooming of cherry blossoms and many Japanese families have a picnic and enjoy flower viewing during the peak season. Japanese companies often host parties and also do hanami. Schools take their children to field trips so the entire country is celebrating this special moment of life.
People who appreciate cherry blossoms aren’t Japanese only! Many tourists come to see the Japanese cherry blossoms during the season. If you have never been there, I highly recommend you go during the spring season to catch the blooming of cherry blossoms.
To me, the most beautiful part of the cherry blossoms isn’t just the blooming but toward the end of the season, cherry blossoms petals start to fall like a Snowflake, a warm snowflake and seeing tens or thousands of petals as the spring wind gently blows makes me speechless.
The very last time I saw the cherry blossoms was with my Japanese friend in Tokyo and we saw the falling of cherry blossom petals. We became quiet as we tried to seize this moment…I wonder if I would see that again anytime soon.
What makes cherry blossoms so precious to Japanese people is the fact that the blooming period of cherry blossoms is very short. Japanese people often compare this to the cycle of life. Life is very beautiful yet very short and we don’t always bloom and that’s just part of our journey.
Some people say cherry blossoms are “tragically” beautiful. I didn’t understand the meaning when I was a child but now I understand.
Cherry blossoms is symbolic to Japanese culture as many soldiers during the world war 2 died for the country while embracing cherry blossoms.
“During World War II, the Cherry blossom was used to motivate the Japanese people….Japanese pilots would paint them on the sides of their plans before embarking on a suicide mission.” (wikipedia)
Not many people know the connection between cherry blossoms and World War II. But in this sense, cherry blossoms are indeed tragically beautiful..beautiful but short lived.
If you grow up in Japan, I am sure that you share similar memories of cherry blossoms. Not only that Japanese people enjoy hanami (flower viewing) across the country, graduation ceremonies take place in March in Japan. As the academic year of Japanese school system starts on 4/1, I remember feeling sad for having to say good bye to my classmates whom I spent time studying and preparing for group activities for one year because school assigns each student new class every year. We didn’t have any control over that but