The blossoms are here!

blossomsI like the way people in Japan celebrate cherry blossoms. Families and friends gather under the flowering trees to stroll, take photos, admire the blossoms and picnic (it is not all quiet and contemplation, though, as there is often a lot of alcohol and the occassional portable karaoke machine).

Cherry blossom viewing has its own term, hanami. A variation of hanami is yozakura, night-time viewing. People hold parties under the trees at night, and many a haiku has been written about cherry blossoms in the moonlight. In the old days, lanterns and torches would have been added to shine light on the blossoms. Today, people bring portable generators to power spot lights. People eat, drink and talk and occassionally look up and comment on the beauty of the blossoms. The short lifespan of the flowers makes the occassion particularly special.

street blossomsCelebrating the blossoms here in Canada is mostly a solitary activity (though I’m happy to say, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is working to make it more a part of our culture — at least here in the lower mainland). For now, I celebrate by going for extra walks down streets lined with blossoming trees and paying visits to my favourite trees. It’s hard to hold a party under the blossoms when most of the flowering trees are along streets, but just standing under them is a party for the senses.

I took the above photos the last week in March, then on April 1st and 2nd, it snowed (like nature was playing an April Fool’s joke), prompting this haiku:

snow on pink blossoms

winter, reluctant to leave

turns for one last kiss

Now, only four days later, it’s as warm as summer, and people are wearing shorts and t-shirts. It wont last, but I think it’s finally safe to say Good-bye Winter!

Vancouver Cherry Blossom site:


4 Responses to “The blossoms are here!”

  1. Jean-Pierre Antonio Says:

    Your description of hanami in Japan is very accurate. The cherry blossoms are for everybody to celebrate and the experience can be quiet and contemplative or raucous and alcohol soaked.

    I think another important factor is the timing of the party. As the first cherry trees bloom in the far south of the country daily reports on TV news shows and in newspapers will keep everyone abreast of the progress of the “cherry front” as it slowly progresses north. People begin to discuss where and when they will have their parties with great earnestness. It’s critical because the peak blooming period is so short, only a couple of days. This is called “mankai”. Before or after mankai the quantity of blooms in the trees are spoken of in percentages. It may be only 80% mankai. That’s pretty good but it’s not the peak. The trick is to get it just right because everyone wants to stand under billowy, faintly pink trees on a clear day, roasting something on the barbecue with friends and family. It is the best way in the world to welcome spring into the world.

  2. bolmom Says:

    That does sound like a great way to welcome spring. Much better than my spring cleaning!

  3. Rochelle Says:

    Jacquie I enjoyed your cherry blossom Haiku.
    I have one for you

    Spring makes her entrance
    swathed in colour and perfume
    swamping the senses

  4. Crafty Green Poet Says:

    I love cherry blossoms! Just this lunchtime I was wandering about, enjoying the blossoms in the park and the streets! I have always loved the Japanese idea of a cherry blossom festival, I hope your one in Canada becomes a great event! Wonder if we’ll ever develop one in Edinburgh? LOL we have so many festivals here!

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