A little less than a year ago I moved to the sleepy neighbourhood of Toritsu-daigaku (都立大学) in south-west Tokyo (15 mins from Shibuya). An old ryokudo (緑道) “green road” lined with cherry blossom trees runs through the centre of the area and at the end of April, almost overnight, it sprang into full bloom.
The yearly metamorphosis is nothing short of miraculous and is celebrated by people across the country at hanami “flower viewing” parties by families, friends and company employees alike.
For a weekend the road became a parade of young and old staring fixedly up at the magical clouds of white flakes suspended just above their heads.
The 18th-century Japanese concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ) translates as “a sensitivity to ephemera” or a wistful awareness of everything’s impermanence in the world.
The transience of the blossoms, with their extreme beauty and quick death, have often been associated with mortality. For this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic in Japanese art.
I’m already looking forward to next year 🙂