Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sending off the Sakura

For the last week and a half my little town of Ikeda has been host to the cherry blossom season.
I have been hearing about this cherry blossom thing since I arrived in Japan. And during the cold winter months it was a highly anticipated event.

Japanese is the best adjective I can think of to describe the beauty of cherry blossoms. The trees are a well manicured kind of pretty, arrive in a timely fashion, and function well in group settings.

"During the Heian period (794–1191), the Japanese nobility sought to emulate many practices from China, including the social phenomenon of flower viewing (hanami: 花見), where the imperial households, poets, singers, and other aristocrats would gather and celebrate under the blossoms. In Japan, cherry trees were planted and cultivated for their beauty."

Last weekend I was lucky enough to climb the thousands of stairs up to Hashikura temple to take part in a traditional cherry blossom festival.
I watched Monks throw rice balls as people eagerly jumped and dove to grab them in hopes to find one with a wooden block inside, thus earning the receiver a prize.
Once the throwing began I choose to put away my camera and eventually take a few steps back as things became increasingly aggressive.

And when the weekend ended and Sunday's rain fell, the cherry blossoms began to fall too.
Now most of the petals are collected on the bottom of my shoes and the floor of my car.

"In Japan, the cherry blossoms are believed to exemplify the transient nature of life because of their short blooming times."

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