Sunday, 8 April 2012

Kyoto, Japan

It's supposed to be spring here and well, it does look like it. Some trees have started to blossom, too (although not the one across the road from our house or the one further down the road. I'm really looking forward to those --> photo opportunities!). This week has been really cold, though, and I've had to start using a second blanket in bed again at night, brrr.

It must be really beautiful in Japan at the moment as this is the cherry blossom season over there. I've been admiring photos online, some of them are truly breathtaking! This cherry blossom card from Japan arrived last year - and it has a matching stamp, too!

Hanami is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, "flower" in this case almost always meaning cherry blossoms ("sakura") or (less often) plum blossoms ("ume"). From the end of March to early May, sakura bloom all over Japan, and around the first of February on the island of Okinawa. The blossom forecast is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two. In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. In some contexts the Sino-Japanese term kanō is used instead, particularly for festivals. Hanami at night is called yozakura. In many places such as Ueno Park temporary paper lanterns are hung for the purpose of yozakura. On the island of Okinawa, decorative electric lanterns are hung in the trees for evening enjoyment, such as on the trees ascending Mt. Yae, near Motobu Town, or at Nakajin Castle.

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