Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

You’d have to be pretty hard hearted to live in Japan and be left cold by the sight of cherry blossoms. Whether the iconic pink tinged white cherry blossoms or the deep pink pompom variety, the arrival of sakura marks a very cheerful season in Japan. I miss sakura mochi (a kind of wagashi -Japanese sweet) and the unmistakable flavor of the pickled cherry leaf, sakura cheesecake at one of my favorite Tokyo eateries (Sakurajaya) and seeing the beautiful graphics all around me. I dream of trying the fabled sakura flavored drinks available at Starbuck’s in Tokyo.

Though I cannot enjoy all the perks of a Tokyo Sakura Season, I still enjoy keeping the spirit in ways that I can. A few weeks ago I visited Blithewold Mansion and Arboretum. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Close to the shore there is a Japanese style garden with a beautiful bridge, a stone lantern and beautiful plants.

The weeping willow (yanagi) makes me think of old Japanese ghost tales. I almost expected to see some creature beckoning me. Several cherry trees grace this area. I found sitting there brought me a breath of fresh ocean air and peace.

Last weekend I attended The Greater Boston-Japan Cherry Blossom Festival 2012 ( in Copley Square Park. The promotional material sounded wonderful – live entertainment, a variety of Japanese food that is not always easy to find and booths by organizations of personal interest. Unfortunately, the trees had blossomed several weeks ago. There were no blooms that I could see, but the spirit remained high. The turnout was so fantastic that it was an absolute crush. While a larger venue or a smaller crowd would have made the event more optimal, I really enjoyed the entertainment, seeing the crowd and discovering new opportunities.

Many of the booths were offering ways to contribute to the recovery of Fukushima. I was pleased to purchase this beautiful pin at one of the booths.

This year I was aware of how many blossoming trees there are in my daily experience. While my commute is fairly long, it is also a beautiful road. I enjoyed seeing all the blossoming trees and was surprised to note how many cherry trees I could find. This year I not only put time aside to celebrate the season by viewing the flowers in a romantic location, but also appreciate the ones I happened upon briefly. It is fitting as it is said that sakura are so celebrated because they are the ultimate symbol of the ephemeral nature of things – in full bloom one day and gone the next.