April 11, 2008

sakura, at home and afar

It's never spring until you've seen cherry blossoms come... and go.

Every year as we start seeing the end of the winter, there is one thing for many of us in Japan to fret over: when are the cherry trees blossoming this year? The nation are so obsessed with it, in fact, our meteorogical agency makes pinpoint "forecasts" of the timing for the flowers to blossom, and makes official "announcements" once the cherries have finally come to blossom.

And while they are in bloom, people are now busy goint out to cherish the flowers that typically last for only about a week or so, partying to celebrate the arrival of the new season and the start of a brand new school/business year (which in Japan is the beginning of April, more or less about the time for the cherry blossoms are around in Tokyo).

Being a Japanese, I find myself always looking for them at this time of the year, no matter where I am - it's almost an instinctive thing, must be in my genes. These photos are the results of such an ingrained habit exhibited while I was on my travels in the US for the past few weeks or so. Somehow, I didn't really get to see them in full bloom anywhere I went, but I was still thrilled everytime I found the flowers - whether they were cherry blossoms or those that resembled cherry, or something completely different, even.

Now I know some of the flowers here aren't sakura, or cherry blossoms (even I can tell... well, some of them at least), but well, all very easy on the eye and just as springy as far as I am concerned.

Other than those photos, here's another cherry blossom that I brought back from my trip:

White chocolate truffle with matcha green tea and cherry blossom petal called Kayoko, from Vosges. Named after "the first woman appointed to the Grand Master of Tea Ceremonies outside the Sen Family" as explained on the website of the Chicago-based chocolatier, the milk-white morsels looked every inch pretty and dainty when I found them in the showcase at their SoHo boutique in New York. Tragically, however, during its long journey from New York to the left coast to Tokyo, mine got tumbled upside down inside the box and got dents all over with the petal torn apart (sigh). For honor of Kayoko, I suggest you check here to see how it ought to look - the site is in Japanese, but as you scroll down you'll see stunning shots of cherry blossoms from San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta, GA., complete with an image of the chocolate.

Meanwhile, although we had a relatively cold winter this year, we had the blossoms coming quite early for this spring; by the time I got bach in Tokyo last week, they were nearly gone. Still, I managed to get a quick sight of them last weekend.

These are all of one single tree - the same one I shot for the
last year's post of cherry blossoms. It was another warm, sunny springy day, perfect for cherry blossom viewing, except maybe, well, there were few blossoms left. I was still lucky to get to see them, though, as the stormy rains poured down to wash away any remaining blossoms over the week.

As I took these photos, I picked up one blossom that had fallen to the ground, and took it home with me.

If anything, cherry blossoms must be one such flower that really is meant to be appreciated while on the tree - real trees outdoors. That is when their beauty really comes through, I think. Even so, sometimes a little make-do does wonders; the tiny flower floaing in water fed our eyes for days, if not weeks... almost good enough to slake my thirst for sakura that I have missed this spring.

In the meantime, I have a bit more than just flowers in my image folders for my US trip this time; I am still in the middle of attempting to organize them, but here is the first set of photos to go over my time on the road, if any one of you is interested or in need of killing time: click here to launch a slideshow.


Anonymous said...

Clouds of pale pink blossoms....and they do turn into rain. Five days of flowery heaven. Incredible photos, chika-san!

Anonymous said...

I wish we had cherry blossoms here, they're so pretty and have this instantaneous calming effect.

Federal Way florist

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photography. I've always wanted to see the Japanese cherries blossom. This time around I'll have to settle for the Danish apple blossom season, which isn't so bad either :)

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Rachael Narins said...

Im all of those cherry trees end up with cherries or are they not fruiting? I hear so much about the blossoms and never much about the fruit!

Char said...

Absolutely fantastic. Oh to be there when they're in bloom.

Anonymous said...

Hello all, thank you so much for your comments as always!

Rachael - I'm the last person to tell people anything about flowers and plants and wildlife ingeneral, but I believe these are only flouring and not fruiting... different from those that bear cherries in a form we'd eat in our pies or out of a fruit bowl.