A little more than two months ago, cherry blossom season came and went in a flash, as it usually does.
It seemed that, within a week of sakura coming out in full bloom, the wind had already carried them away.
Cherry blossoms herald the arrival of spring, the time during which we can begin to walk outside without our heavy winter coats (sometimes, anyway).
This year, however, spring appeared to last all of a week before it gave way to summer. What happened?
I found myself wearing short-sleeved shirts before the end of April.
That usually never happens. Last year, I remember wanting to wear long sleeves outside well into May.
Sometimes I’d even have to throw on my winter coat!
But not this year.
It may have gotten a tad chilly during rainstorms, but otherwise the weather was more or less consistent (in my opinion) with summer conditions.
Is this a new trend?
Given all that’s happening with global warming (or, as some call it, climate change), it could be a permanent change.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see. All I know is that, in all my years in Japan, I’ve never seen spring skipped altogether.
And that’s a shame, as Japanese summers are already too long as they are!
What do you think?
Do you agree that 2015 lacked a spring season in Japan?
If you have any thoughts, please let us know!
Although there is a long list of what are the most popular spots for “hanami,” or cherry blossom viewing, in Tokyo, including Chidoriga Fuchi, Shinjuku Gyoen, Sumida River — you name it — Meguro River, running through Naka-Meguro towards Ikejiri Ohashi, may be one of the hottest venues to appreciate “sakura,” or cherry blossoms.
東京の花見スポットは数えきれないほどありますが — 千鳥ヶ淵、新宿御苑、隅田川、等々– 今最も人気のあるスポットの１つが目黒川、特に中目黒から池尻大橋辺りではないでしょうか。
Since I live in Naka-Meguro, my friends and I, every year, on our way back from “hanami lunch” at a French bistro or a Mediterranean restaurant nearby, go and see this long scenic stretch of Meguro River with cherry blossoms on both sides, making it a long, beautiful flower tunnel.
The weather forecast reports the “sakura” front to give us the most accurate weather forecast for cherry blossoming viewing. From Okinawa to Hokkaido, Japanese people really enjoy “hanami” because it marks the true beginning of the spring season, and a new chapter in life is celebrated with cherry blossoms, like the school entrance ceremony or a new start in society. In Japan, the school year and the government’s fiscal year starts in April and ends in the following March.
Spring finally came to Japan after what seemed to be an endless winter.
The temperature has started to warm up, and you no longer have to put on so many layers of clothing just to check your mail.
Of course, the spring season also means hay fever for many, and this causes many people to miss school or work.
The most exciting thing about spring, however, is without question the cherry blossoms, which are due to start blooming any day.
The cherry blossoms attract shutterbugs (or photography enthusiasts) from all over the world who like to document the beautiful but short-lived flowers in all their glory.
And the cherry blossoms are quite glorious, indeed. Just Google the words “cherry blossoms” and look at all the beautiful pictures on display. Traveling to Kyoto with your camera in tow will offer many incredible opportunities for memorable photographs.
Even though Tokyo is a much more modern city, it too provides a lot of chances to take nice photos.
Meguro River near Naka-Meguro Station is just one such example.
Every year it attracts hundreds (perhaps thousands) of onlookers who take carefully-staged photographs or just quick selfies to post on Facebook.
Either way, it’s a popular destination for those who want to experience hanami firsthand.
Spring in Japan means much more than simply getting to leave your coat at home. It’s hard to think of a more anticipated event in Japan that is shared and enjoyed by everyone, regardless of his/her nationality.
Sure, there’s Christmas, and Halloween is starting to play catch-up, but cherry blossom season defies cultural and language boundaries in a way that no Western holiday will ever be able to do.
After all, who doesn’t enjoy beauty?
So, if you’re in Japan, dust off your camera (or smartphone) and start researching a place near you to take some pictures.
If you’re not in Japan, well, get ready for all the pictures coming your way.
There will be a lot of them, and chances are they will almost all be wonderful.
That’s just how cherry blossoms are.
Sakura season is just around the corner!
Today A week ago
Today we are observing the 4th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeast on March 11th, 2011.
We should never forget this Disaster!
Meanwhile, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reported an estimated 750 tons of rainwater with relatively high levels of radioactivity has been leaked.
We still don’t have any idea about where to put nuclear waste.
On March 10, 2015, Japan marks the 70th anniversary of the 1945 Tokyo Air Raid during World War II, which is believed to have killed about 100,000 people and destroyed 270,000 houses in Tokyo in two and half hours.
We should never go to war.
On January 17, 1995, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake rocked Kobe, Japan, leaving thousands of people dead and injured in its wake. In the 20 years since the catastrophe, an even bigger quake triggered a tsunami and decimated the Tohoku area, ending the lives of more than double the amount who perished in Kobe.
As a young teenager who had an interest in Japan, news of the 1995 disaster captured my attention, but ultimately it proved to be just a curiosity for me. Traveling to Japan seemed completely beyond my reach, and the island nation was an untold thousands of miles away. How could I possibly relate to it as anything other than an abstract concept?
The 3/11 earthquake and tsunami were an entirely different matter. At the time of the calamity, I was scheduled to move to Japan in two weeks. While the earthquake and tsunami (not to mention the resulting nuclear problems) were a concern, it was not enough for me to reconsider. I was determined to make the transition and begin a new chapter.
My move occurred as scheduled, and I haven’t looked back since. While many foreigners decided to pack their bags and leave Japan, I did the opposite. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
On the 20th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake, everybody around the world should take some time to reflect on our lives. We are all mortal, and what happened two decades ago should serve as a grim reminder. Take nothing in life for granted — always give it 100%.
It could all end tomorrow.