This weekend we had crisp spring weather, so we took our breakfast to Golden Gate Park to see the cherry blossoms!
In Japan, cherry blossom parties called hanami (literally flower-viewing) are a national pastime. As the first signs of the blooms appear, in early late March/early April, areas in blossom are broadcast together with the TV weather report - a blossom report. Sakura bloom first in the South, in Kyushuu where it is warmer, and over a two week period the flowers move in a wave through Japan.
The best sites can get very crowded, as companies or familes picnic underneath the trees in large groups. Hanami parties are also very lively, if the videos shown in Japanese classes are anything to go by, much sake and taiyaki is consumed!
Our own little hanami was quite sedate, we were the only ones under the trees. The flowers were incredibly beautiful... in perfect bloom.
I hope that someday I will have the chance to see the Sakura in Japan, but San Francisco has very nice trees!
The flowers are shortlived, and soon fall; a metaphor for the brevity of live that has been appreciated by the Japanese for centuries. They are the basis for one of my favorite haiku which is: