After a long cold winter, cherry blossoms make a spectacular welcome to spring. The fluffy pink, white and fuchsia flowers blow little kisses across the chilly spring days with promise of warmth in the days ahead. And nowhere is this joyous spirit more cherished and celebrated than Japan.
Since the 8th century, honouring cherry blossoms - “sakura” - has become a national past-time in Japan. And today, thanks to Instagram selfies, it’s become more of an obsession around the world. But the best place to appreciate viewing the riot of blossoms remains in Japan where the blooming of hundreds of thousands of cherry blossom trees is called “hanami” season. The country takes it so seriously that the Japan Meteorological Corporation announces a forecast in mid-January of when viewing season will begin - early in the south (Fukuoka in March) to later in the north (Sapporo at the end of April). In 2021, Tokyo is forecast to bloom around March 23.
And it can’t come a minute too early this year. Sadly, the country’s annual festival has been cancelled (same as 2020) but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it through photos from the past. Blossom season lasts seven to fourteen days depending upon the region and tree species. In normal times, crowds of tourists can discover more than a thousand viewing spots - parks, temples, rivers and more - throughout the country. And as tourism is postponed for this year, the meaning of cherry blossoms is even more poignant.
According to Live Japan, a site dedicated to Hanami, the cherry blossoms’ “fleeting beauty illustrates all too perfectly that nothing in this world is permanent, everything passes away at some point. A sad but beautiful admiration for this impermanence has been an important part of the Japanese mindset since ancient times. In Japanese, it’s called “mono no aware”. This mindset can be found in the smallest things of Japanese daily life.”
And it’s cherishing those small things that have helped many of us get through a quiet locked down year. Celebrating the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms is an uplifting way to socially distance. Here at Fleurs de Villes, we are on the lookout for cherry blossom season in our hometown of Vancouver. Stay tuned for the best viewing times! Check out Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.