If there were no cherry blossoms in the world,
my mind would be peaceful. –Fujiwara Norihira
Spring has been a little bit moody the last few weeks in Istria- rain showers, strong winds, low temperatures; seems like it's still refusing to take off its winter coat. But the flowers are here, unmistakable sign that warmer, sunnier days are just around the corner. And while I’m observing spring changes in Istria, I’m still thinking back to our time spent in Japan, when parks, streets and woods were bursting with clouds of flowers: white ones, pink ones, red ones and everything in between. As I already said in my previous post, there was little chance to miss writing about the blossoms in Japan again. :)
Admiring cherry blossoms, called Sakura in Japanese is a national thing in Japan. The tradition of blossom viewing, Hanami dates back to 8th century- then, it was Ume, or plum blossom which was being admired, today it's above all cherry blossom. However, I've noticed that Japanese people love their flowers and blossoms in general- cherries, plums, magnolias, camellias...every blossoming tree attracts a crowd of admirers!
Japanese 18th and 19th century woodprints (Ukiyo-e), which influenced Western art of 19th century enormously, often depicted scenes of cherry blossom viewing along famous spots of Japan. As I am a big fan of Japanese woodprints, going to the museum to see them in person was a must. And so it happened that I found myself in the National Museum, admiring the 19th century scene of cherry blossom viewing in Ueno Park. I left the museum for a stroll in that same park and there I found hundreds of people admiring those same trees two centuries later.
In spring, everything becomes Sakura related in Japan. From Sakura days at the museums (where all of the cherry blossom-related items are marked with a pink flower), cherry blossom decorations at both temples and shopping centers, to perfumes, home decor, jewelry, drinks, sweets... And then there is Sakura forecast, which we consulted regularly during our trip to Japan. The opening of cherry flowers starts in southern Island of Okinawa in February, hits Tokio in late March and ends with blossoming on the northern island of Hokkaido in May. I imagine a wave of pale pink flowers overflowing Japan from bottom to top.
We couldn't and wouldn’t have wanted to skip this lovely tradition, so on cherry blossom peak, we packed our photography gear and bentos (traditional Japanese lunch box) and headed to the parks and river shores to join the blossom loving Japanese nation in admiring this ephemeral beauty.
Here are some of the photos we took during these magical few days, I hope you'll like them! (Oh, and they were edited vintage-style, I liked it better this way) :)