Indoors in Spring: Virtual Hanami in the Time of COVID-19

 

Each year, the sight of cherry blossoms in riotous profusion signals the arrival of spring in Japan.

 

Normally, huge numbers of foreigners come to Japan at this time of year to enjoy the splendor of the sakura. Unfortunately, this year the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has severely dented the number of visitors from overseas.

 

Residents of Japan too have been requested to refrain from going out when not necessary. That in turn has prevented the holding of hanami (flower viewing) parties that have come to be regarded as a rite of spring.

 

Foreigners are without fail astounded the first time they see a Japanese hanami party in full swing. They don’t know what to make of the sight of normally serious, scrupulously polite Japanese, who are very merrily deep into their cups, singing, dancing, and otherwise crazily cavorting under the cherry trees.

 

Many people find it highly regrettable that hanami has been called off this year. But an increasing number of flower lovers are finding ingenious alternate ways to enjoy the hanami season by going back to basics.

 

One popular strategy to enjoy a quiet boom is to engage in hanami at home. The most aesthetic approach is to purchase a decoration containing actual sakura from a florist. However, many people are choosing to enjoy quiet drinking at home, while viewing images of beautiful cherry blossoms on the internet. Hardly a bacchanalian affair.

 

In Japanese there is a common saying, Hanami de ippai “cherry blossom viewing and a cup of sake.” It conjures up images of people enjoying the season, the sight and scent of the cherry blossoms amidst a gentle breeze, while composing or reciting waka or haiku that capture the mood. Such pastimes that revel in the changing seasons are a direct expression of the spirit of refinement to be found in the Japanese national character.

 

Nowadays, wonderful images are readily available on the internet. This spring, it is probably good for us to step back from the current confusion and take joy in viewing cherry blossoms while calmly contemplating the journey of life.

 

Click here to reach the latest information on where the sakura are now in bloom.

 

Then take the next step and follow the blossoms into virtual hanami through each of the links below. Enjoy the sounds and spectacular images of spring’s ritual cherry blossom viewing.

 

◇Sakura Japan〜Cherry Blossoms〜

 

◇CHERRY BLOSSOM in KYOTO

 

◇Best Cherry Blossom Spots

 

◇NARA JAPAN Cherry blossom Mt.Yoshino

 

◇Cherry Blossom blizzard of Hirosaki Park JAPAN

 

日本三大桜名所 ( 吉野山 / 高遠城址 / 弘前公園 )

Enjoy!

 

Author: Yukihiro Watanabe

 

More information on the cherry blossom forecast here.

 

Yukihiro Watanabe

Author:

Yukihiro Watanabe, JAPAN Forward advisor, is the organizer of Gillie Club, a members-only club that offers a platform for cultural and social exchange and interactions among people with similar interests. He is also chief editor of Labunraku, a web portal supporting the traditional form of Japanese puppet theatre, Bunraku; a producer of events for novice Japanese culture enthusiasts; a visiting professor at Tama University Research Institute; and also serves as executive director for Ryori Volunteer No Kai (Food Volunteer Group), a foundation where member chefs visit disaster areas in Japan and serve food.  

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