This blog post is my sakura withdrawal coping mechanism. Even though we had almost the perfect weather this year to elongate the season (no rain, light winds etc.) I still feel like they disappeared before I even had the chance to see them. Just when I was getting comfortable with seeing them on my morning walk to school or trip to the grocery store, they were gone. I realized I never did a dedicated post about sakura last year so I'm going to include photos from both years I've witnessed their fluffy pink magic. These pictures are also narrowed down to twenty of about ten thousand.
The entire country is wrapped in sakura fever and until I really saw it for myself I didn't totally understand the hype. Now I 100% do and, like the rest of Japan, I am rightly obsessed. Japanese truly understand how to appreciate the fleetingness of the sakura. Enter: the hanami. Hanami 花見 (literally: flower see) is an institution of the sakura season. Last year, I heard people talking about having a hanami but didn't fully grasp what it was. So you just go look at the flowers? I could be into that. But a hanami is an event. A picnic in the most ideal of spots surrounded by trees in full bloom. Copious amounts of food and alcohol are consumed and it has become one of my favourite bits of Japanese culture. Both this year and last year, I have been invited by complete strangers to enjoy their hanami just because I happened to be walking by. It's less of an invite because there really is no way to say no, but who would want to say no? People are so kind and generous, sharing tons of food and drinks and making conversation. Last year, my friend Mike and I were biking by a hanami where the median age of attendees must have been about 75. We were 'forced' into eating, drinking, and playing a game of petanque (bocce ball) for about three hours. It was lovely.
Vancouver has beautiful cherry blossoms every year, but I feel like they're missing out on how to fully enjoy them. Maybe the no drinking in public laws might make a societal institution of publicly drinking under cherry trees a bit difficult, but even without the alcohol it is still so nice to be outside surrounded by other people enjoying the simplicity of flowers. I couldn't recommend more visiting Japan at this time of year as it really is unlike anything I've seen elsewhere. But if you can’t get to Japan, just crack a cold one and go sit by some flowers and bring the spirit of Japan to you.