Sakura, Sakura

Throwback Thursday: Originally written on April 23, 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…!

(Besides Christmas, that is!)

When you picture Japan, you probably think of cherry blossoms (桜, sakura). They are a national symbol of spring here in Japan and they tend to be featured heavily in advertisements, TV programs, movies, tourist websites, and all other media. In fact, there are forecasts produced by the Japanese media solely to predict when the cherry blossoms will bloom!

At first, I thought this was all a little crazy. I wanted to see the cherry blossoms as much as (if not more than) the next ALT, but to have cherry blossom forecasts?!

March turned into April and, I admit, I got just as excited as my fellow teachers when my school’s cherry trees started to bud.

April 11, 2014 - the first buds appear on the cherry trees!

April 11, 2014 – the first buds have appeared on the cherry trees!

I watched them closely with anticipation and took pictures of their progress almost every day. Last week, they were turning more and more pink.

April 14, 2014 - the buds are really growing!

April 14, 2014 – what a difference a weekend makes!

April 18, 2014 - the flowers started to bloom!

April 18, 2014 – The trees started to turn really pink!

This weekend, their flowers started to open. My excitement grew even more.

April 19, 2014 - almost there!

April 19, 2014 – almost there!

And today, in full bloom, they look like puffy, pink clouds!

April 23, 2014 - pink, puffy clouds of sakura!

April 23, 2014 – pink, puffy clouds of sakura!

And they are EVERYWHERE. Trees that I saw every day over the summer that I thought were ordinary trees have surprised me, brightening the mountainsides with their pink flowers. Even the local park has turned into a sea of pink!

Road lined with cherry trees - beautiful!

Road lined with cherry trees – beautiful!

Pictures can’t do the beauty of them justice.

There is a cherry blossom festival happening at the local park this week. Red and white lanterns are strung along pathways tunnelled by cherry trees in full bloom. It’s the perfect place to go sit under the blossoms, eat festival foods, and enjoy the beauty that is the Japanese spring (which also happens to be my first real spring ever – I’m realizing now that Newfoundland doesn’t have a spring)!

IMG_5601

The cherry blossom festival in Honjo Park – absolutely gorgeous!

Some of the food stalls at the Sakura Festival in Honjo Park.

Some of the food stalls at the festival in Honjo Park.

Cherry blossoms at Honjo Park and high school students in their uniforms - does it get any more Japanese than this? :)

Cherry blossoms at Honjo Park and high school students in their uniforms – does it get any more Japanese than this? :)

Now that I’ve seen my first cherry trees in full bloom, I completely understand why the Japanese are obsessed with them and I’m already looking forward to next year’s spring!

If you look closely, you can see Mt. Chokai in the background, too!

If you look closely, you can see Mt. Chokai in the background, too!

(Oh, and I can now officially cross hanami-ing (“flower viewing”) off my Japan Bucket List!)

All of my Japan dreams are coming true. :)

I am one happy ALT. :)

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