A report on Cherry Blossoms from Japan

If you ask any Japanese person, “when would be a good time to visit Japan?”, I guarantee you that you’ll be met by excited and convincing cry of “Cherry Blossom Season, of course!”

Late March and early April are some of the best weeks to visit Japan, as you are very likely to arrive at the height of the Sakura (cherry blossom) season.   Somei Yoshino (Prunus yedoensis) is the best-loved variety.  Originally cultivated in the late Edo era (1603-1863), they are now to be seen all over Japan.   It’s interesting to note that all of these thousands of Somei Yoshino trees originate from just one tree – it doesn’t form seeds, so can only be propagated through cuttings.   Because they are essentially all the same tree, they come into full blossom within the space of just few days, covering whole regions in dreamy blush pink.

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Setsubun (節分) – Time for Renewal

February 3rd in Japan is known as Setsubun. The word setsubun means “a division of the seasons”.  According to the Japanese Lunar Calendar, this day marks the beginning of the “Eve of Spring.”   By this time, winter seems to loosen its grip a bit and, personally, my desire for an early arrival of spring is starting to bubble up.  Knowing that I have endured through the darkest of winter, and made it to the “Eve of Spring” brings me a sense of relief and hope for the next season to come. [Read more…]