Posted in Kafevend Blog
Our flowering cherry tree has been in full pink regalia recently. After such a mild winter, spring has arrived much sooner than last year and I've been enjoying the beautiful blooms around town for several weeks now. You really do have to make the most of them before the wind and rain arrive to speed the process on! While we're generally appreciative of the welcome return of colour that spring brings here in the UK, we do seem to fall short of the centuries old Japanese celebration of spring that is manifest in the cherry blossom festivals that sweep from south to north as the season arrives.
Japan's met office tracks the cherry blossom front, beginning in the subtropical island of Okinawa in January/February and typically reaching the northernmost island, Hokkaido by late April and into May. People keep a careful eye on developments and when the cherry trees flower head out with family and friends to local parks for picnics under the trees, a practice called hanami. While the cherry blossom season lasts for a few months across the entirety of Japan, it doesn't last more than a week or two in any one place, but it's the fleeting nature of the cherry blossom that's a big part of the attraction. If you remember reading the wabi sabi blog, you'll recall the appreciation of natural beauty and the acceptance of life's eternal cycle of growth and decay. It ties in well with a related Japanese aesthetic known as 'mono no aware' which means 'the pathos of things' and which has to do with a poignant awareness of the transience of life, which the beautiful yet ephemeral cherry blossom encapsulates much better than longer lasting blooms.
Japan has over a hundred varieties of flowering cherry trees, the most popular of which is the Somei Yoshino which has blossoms of the palest pink verging on white. As well as picnicking under the trees in parks, some people head to tea gardens for tea ceremonies held beneath the cherry blossoms... and what could be more sublime!