Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Nothing can get in the way of a cherry blossom party in Japan, not even North Korea’s test-launch of a rocket.
A couple weeks ago I blogged about Japan’s cherry blossom season and how the sakura-crazy nation was preparing to pop open the sake and party.
The blossoms were in full bloom in Tokyo about a week ago – right around the time North Korea planned a rocket launch over Japan.
The launch dominated the headlines and kept people on edge, but it did not get between people and their party plans, including those of Japan’s military.
The season is back and so is the nation’s obsession. The map of Japan has turned pink on TV, with anchors and weather forecasters speculating when the day will be.
The stores are filling up their shelves with pink products, ranging from stickers to salt. And soon, people will start lining up for hours to get the best spots, so that they can appreciate its ephemeral beauty while gorging on bento (box meals) and booze.
For many, the cherry blossom is the quintessential Japanese flower, its fragile pink petals symbolising the transience of life and its advent in spring an excuse for “hanami” picnics beneath the boughs, where sake and song flow in equal measure.
But some, myself included, confess to a deeper affection for the more modest plum, whose five-petalled white and pink flowers bloom in February, heralding spring despite a winter chill.