Saturday, April 5, 2014

vocabulary of cherry blossoms

Anyone who spends a spring in Japan surely learns sakura, the word for cherry blossoms; and hanami  (or ohanami, more formally), which is defined as a "cherry blossom-viewing party."  I suppose it would be as accurate to define the hanami as a picnic under the blossoms, often a drunken gathering, for many.  The best time is when the cherry blossoms are mankai (満開, まんかい), or in full bloom.

During my first year here, a good friend (a New Yorker and fellow Beastie Boy listener) once likened cherry blossom season in Japan to Christmas back home, at least in its effect on our temperaments.  People are friendly and sociable even to strangers, and the spirit of the season seems to prompt the expectation of this phenomenon.  The air warms, and so do we.  And people are generous; more than once have I been offered and given free drinks, beer and chu-hai mostly, by fellow hanami-ers who happen to be sitting next to me on the glorious earth under trees topped by an illuminated white canopy.  The giving inspires giving, and before long we find ourselves sharing and talking and laughing.  Whenever gusts of wind blow the petals into a shower falling on us, we let out Oohs and Aahs, as mesmerized by this vision of spring as we would be by any winter snowfall.

The sakura, I've been told, is symbolic of the fleeting essence of life and its beauty, something to be enjoyed and, ideally, grasped for what it is while it remains with us, a temporal wonder.  Sakura and Sakurako are popular names for girls.

Most of these pictures were taken at Yoyogi Park (Yoyogi Kooen, 代々木公園).



The majority of eople in Japan, in my experience, are really good about not littering


Lastly, a music video by Morning Musume with today's vocabulary.  Honestly not the kind of music I usually listen to, but there are obviously people who like it.  For those not yet indoctrinated in the world of Jpop, Morning Musume was a sort of precursor to today's AKB groups, over a decade ago.

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