Mother Nature wants to be sure we haven’t forgotten who’s boss

11 Apr

花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing“) is a centuries-old Japanese tradition. Every spring, Japanese people have a picnic with friends and family under the 桜 (Cherry Blossom) trees.

Japanese people have always loved the pink Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), as can be seen in many things in Japan such as haiku poems, ukiyoe (woodblock prints), paintings, Sakura-flavored snacks, tea and 日本酒 (Japanese sake rice-wine).

I wrote a post last year explaining a bit about Japan’s love of 桜 (Sakura flowers) and 花見 (“Cherry-Blossom Viewing”).

Basically, the Sakura are beautiful and fragile and they are in bloom for only a short time before they fall to the ground in a way that looks like beautiful, gentle pink snowfall…it’s called 「桜吹雪」 (“Sakura-fubuki” (Sakura snowfall)).
They symbolize the beauty, fragility and brevity of life itself.

But this year, due to the disaster last month, the Japanese government has asked people to use 自粛 (self-restraint) this “Cherry Blossom Viewing” season.

Does it seem odd to you that the government would ask that of people in Japan?
I have heard that many people from other countries were surprised to learn that the Japanese government would request people to refrain from Cherry Blossom Viewing or at least to do it quietly and reverently this year.

But in Japan we have no problem with such a request. In fact, even if the government hadn’t asked, most people in Japan probably would have done so anyways.
In many cases 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) leads people to drink excessively and sometimes become a bit loud. But this year, so soon after the huge disaster in the 東北地方 (Tohoku Region) and with so many up there still trying to recover from it, no one is in the mood to celebrate.
Many people are electing to skip Cherry Blossom Viewing this year, and those who are doing it this year are doing so quietly and with more reflection.

Today my wife and I went to a temple with a small lunch to enjoy a quiet 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing).
Here are some photos that I took:

Some junior high school students walking to school. The school year has just begun in Japan.

Can you see the Sakura petals falling in 桜吹雪 ("Sakura snowfall")?

Many Sakura petals on the ground.

Back of 大仏 (Buddah)

Not long after we returned home, our house shook pretty hard from a big aftershock that was a 振動 5 (Level 5 of the Japanese earthquake scale (with goes to “7”))! It was a 振動 6 (level 6 (out of 7)) at it’s epi-center in the Sendai area! It was then that I realized today is the one-month anniversary of the 2011 March 11 Sendai Earthquake!

14 Responses to “Mother Nature wants to be sure we haven’t forgotten who’s boss”

  1. metalodyssey April 13, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    Thanks for sharing the pictures… seeing those cherry blossoms reminds me of how gentle mother nature can be, after all the anguish and disaster that has been inflicted upon Japan from the earthquakes and tsunami. Those pictures just advertise serenity and peace. I guess mother nature can be two-faced.

    BTW… that cat is really cool. I love the colors of him/her, hopefully that is not a homeless cat… he/she looks rather healthy, clean and friendly. 🙂


    • tokyo5 April 14, 2011 at 1:11 am #

      >I guess mother nature can be two-faced.

      Yes, nature is gentle and beautiful at times, then violent and dangerous at others.

      >that cat is really cool…hopefully that is not a homeless cat…

      It was a cute cat…and popular–many people were taking her photo.
      She wasn’t homeless. A “temple” cat…cared for by the temple priests. Often temples and shrines in Japan have cats that “live” there and are looked after by the temple or shrine staff.


  2. musings April 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Oh wow! Hanafubuki! They’re now saying Fukushima is like Chernobyl. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to celebrate this year. Sigh…


    • tokyo5 April 13, 2011 at 12:12 am #

      >Fukushima is like Chernobyl.

      I heard that on the news today. It just gets worse and worse! I can’t wait for this disaster to simply be a bad memory!


    • jaydeejapan April 13, 2011 at 1:09 am #

      Well, I wouldn’t say Fukushima is like Chernobyl. Not anywhere near like Chernobyl. Keep in mind that Chernobyl was one reactor that released far more radiation than 4 reactors at Fukushima have. Nothing has changed, just a different arbitrary number being attached to it.


      • tokyo5 April 14, 2011 at 1:05 am #

        >just a different arbitrary number being attached to it.

        I’m not sure if I agree that it’s “arbitrary”.


      • jaydeejapan April 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

        >I’m not sure if I agree that it’s “arbitrary”.

        What I meant by arbitrary is that the levels were set on arbitrary numbers, and while Chernobyl was level 7, it released far more radiation than Fukushima Daiichi. It’s unfair to compare them when they are so very different. Level 7 doesn’t mean this equals Chernobyl, which is what many people think.


      • tokyo5 April 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

        Either way, a nuclear disaster is frightening.
        Hopefully, they get it under control and cleared up before too long!


  3. nihongozuki April 12, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    桜吹雪 I liked this word. very poetic…


    • tokyo5 April 13, 2011 at 12:11 am #

      Yes, but more than that…the actual petals falling in the breeze are beautiful!


  4. gigihawaii April 12, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    Lovely pics!!! You should see the SHOWER TREES in Hawaii. When they are in full bloom, the breeze blows the tiny petals to the ground. That’s why they are called Shower Trees. They come in various colors, but my favorite is the Golden Shower Tree — lovely yellow blossoms quite beautiful on emerald green grass!!!


    • tokyo5 April 13, 2011 at 12:10 am #

      It has an unfortunate name in English but I looked at photos of it online just now and it looks like a beautiful flower.


  5. jaydeejapan April 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    I didn’t have a hanami party, but I did eat a piece of fried chicken from Lawson under the cherry trees while I took pictures. Great pictures! Which temple did you go to?


    • tokyo5 April 12, 2011 at 12:01 am #

      We didn’t have a “party” either. My wife and I sat under the trees and ate the lunch she made. In fact everyone we saw there were sitting quietly under trees and having lunch.


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