Out of the many things that confuddle me about Japan, the national obsession with cherry blossoms is pretty high on the list. A cherry blossom is a cherry blossom is ought to be a cherry. I much rather prefer the cherries than the flowers. Cherries are yummy and don’t make me sneeze. But sadly, the yummy cherry comes from a different species of cherry trees.
Sakura, on the other hand, while pretty, provokes the consumption of massive amounts of Singulair. At least for me. And because I’m a crude gaijin, the esthetics tend to be lost on me anyway.
For years I managed to valiantly avoid cherry blossom viewings, claiming asthma, PMS, food poisoning and alien abductions as my excuses. And because the Japanese are, by and large, a very gullible breed, they just nodded and left me alone. Until one year when a non-Japanese cherry blossom obsessed friend got her hands on me... I was kidnapped in the middle of the night, whisked away in an unmarked minivan to Kyoto, and subjected to a sakura extravaganza.
From Kyoto to Nara to Tokyo, I witnessed numerous parks filled with herds of Japanese of all ages, shapes and sizes. From infants in buggies to old ladies in tour buses. There were poets, and painters, and lovers sitting under the cherry trees. And groups of retirees ooohhed and aaahhed, commenting that the blossoms of 1963, or 1971, or whatever year they happened to fall in love, were so unforgettable, and so much better.
I finally managed to chew through the restraints somewhere in the Tochigi prefecture and sought refuge at the Sano Outlet Mall.
And while the blossoms were indeed lovely, the Chanel coat I bought at Sano (80% off - an after season sale) was even lovelier.
One thing that I never had the pleasure of experiencing, however, was the nighttime sakura viewing – with the trees lit up from different angles, all to better showcase the beauty of the flowers. Yeah, only in Japan…
My super-dutiful friend, Miki of Soul Box in Tokyo, did the nighttime cherry blossom appreciation madness, and because she’s just all kinds of wonderful, sent me the photographic evidence. Now, how’s that for a really dedicated, proud Japanese woman?
And here's a bit of sakura in Kyoto taken during my cherry blossom viewing abduction a couple of years ago: