Hanami season has arrived, stirring feelings of joy at the onset of spring and the start of a new financial and academic year, tempered with melancholy at the knowledge that, as with the sakura, all beauty is mortal. A finality which doesn’t need to be underscored too heavily at a time when there are still many thousands dead and missing in the North, most recently those killed by last night’s large aftershock.
Last week Tokyo’s government asked for restraint at this time of national mourning, while an association of Tohoku sake brewers countered by trying to encourage Tokyo’s drinkers to indulge, enjoy life and by doing so, support the remains of their industry. It is understandable that people feel torn. There is perhaps a reluctance to hold the raucous parties for which the season is renowned while their compatriots are struggling with everyday living. Set against that, is of course, the near-impossible-to-resist joy that hanami season brings:
As I wrote in autumn, the Japanese love their trees and this regard was very much in evidence today in Ueno Park. Everyone from teetering and bundled-up toddlers to almost bent-double grandparents walked beneath the boughs, loaded and heavy with blossoms close to their mankai, or full bloom, best. The trees were truly gorgeous. A heartbreakingly beautiful sight, the gentle pink at times hardly showing against the grey sky, but still strong enough to give the soul a lift and herald the end of winter.
The view was made all the more beautiful by its fleeting nature, the delicate blossom taking a battering from the wind, falling across the paths and walkers below the trees, as well as into my palm as I took these pictures.
So hard to believe that by next week they will be gone.
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