Undeniably Spring

You know, it just isn’t springtime in Japan until the cherry blossoms have graced you with their presence. The sakura is Japan’s unofficial national flower, and it’s amazing how culturally important it is. Actually, when the word “flower” is used in traditional Japanese poetry, it generally refers to the sakura. Even now, people closely follow the sakura forecast for an estimation of when the flowers will come to their town. And once they appear, it’s time for hanami, a tradition of eating and drinking with family and friends under the blossoming trees that has been around since the 700s. I swear, it’s all any of my Japanese friends have talked about for the last couple of months.

So, this past weekend, the sakura really started coming out in Niigata (pretty late, really), and as expected, they’re beautiful. I took a walk around Kamo yesterday to take in the springtime beauty and snap a few pictures. Cherry blossoms are fickle things; the slightest bit of wind or bad weather can send them away as quickly as they came. That’s part of the Japanese fascination with them, of course – they symbolize the fleeting nature of life. Anyway, I’m going to be quiet now and show you the pictures.

Spring Sunset, Kamo River
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Cherry Blossoms, Kamo
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

I really like that last one, but it is better appreciated at a larger size. Been shooting in RAW lately, and it makes me wonder how I ever coped without it.

Anyway, it’s been an extremely busy day at school. I taught four classes in a row this morning, something that’s only happened once before. And I’m basically designing a new English curriculum to be published in book form, which is a huge task. Better get back to that. ;)