vendredi 1 avril 2011


or 'flower viewing' is the traditional Japanese custom of viewing flowers, namely cherry blossom.  The blossom forecast, a little like the weather forecast begins in February and aims to forecast the optimum day for wiewing the cherry blossom (sakura), which depends on the weather conditions.  Blossoms peak only for around one or two weeks.  Outdoor parties  where special food and drink (particularly sake) are served, are held in celebration either in the daytime or night (a night time hanami is called yozakura, literally 'night sakura').  Lanterns are also hung to light up and decorate the parties.  It must be wonderful to see huge numbers of people celebrating the natural world.  Literally thousands of people fill the parks to view the blossom. 

Elder people prefer the plum blossom parties as they are less crowded and noisy than hanami.

I've been receiving regular updates from a Japanese woman living in Tokyo.  She's been sending daily reports about life in Japan after the earthquake - the numbers of lives that have been lost, the people living in gymnasiums or schools because they have lost their homes, the levels of radioactivity in the tap water and she paints a bleak picture of the aftermath although what does come shining through is the spirit of the Japanese people, their stoicism and ability to get on with life under terrible conditions.

Here's wishing all the survivors of this terrible disaster some peace and a chance to enjoy the cherry blossom again sometime.

This was taken in Parc du Bercy.

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