By Eddy Montilla
In Japan, when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, people know that the coldest part of winter came to an end and they can foresee the arrival of spring.
In autumn, all leaves fall from the cherry trees, and before they become green again, they are covered completely in pale pink flowers, which create a beautiful piece of scenery because of the contrast of the blue in the sky, the green in other trees and the pink in the cherry blossoms. At night, it is very impressive to see cherry blossoms when they are dimly lit.
But cherry blossoms are something more than beauty. They are a distinguishing feature in the Japanese culture. Japan’s fiscal and school year begin in April. Recent graduates begin their first job in this month too. During this period, speeches and ceremonies usually make references to the cherry blossoms.
The cherry trees are in full blossom for few days only. Then, their flowers will fall and people will have to wait till next year to appreciate them again. This mixture of fleetingness and beauty is well understood by Japanese people who usually pack the places where the cherry trees are to celebrate “hanami” (hana=flower and mi=see), a party in which people eat and drink.
Cherry trees abound in parks and schools. Some of them date back from hundreds to more than 1000 years, like the Miharu-Takizakura cherry tree, a national treasure located in Miharu, Fukushima. You can see cherry blossoms almost everywhere in Japan in April and May, but if you like the best of the best, Hirosaki castle in Aomori prefecture with its over 2,500 trees, the Miharu-Takizakura cherry tree (one of only three of its kind in the country, dating back more than 1,000 years) and Hanamiyama park in Fukushima prefecture and Yoshinoyama (more than 30,000 trees) in Nara prefecture will be your favorite places. If you are in Japan in these months, don’t lose the opportunity to see them because life passes (sometimes without our noticing it) as quickly as the cherry blossoms.
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