The Hanami festival is when everybody enjoys the arrival of the “Clouds”- the floating delicate Cherry Blossom flowers that have been celebrated since the 7th century in Japan.
The tradition started in the Imperial Court of Emperor Saga in Kyoto. Nowadays the arrival of the first blossoms are much anticipated, Japanese families spend many days, weekends and especially evenings sitting, picnicking under and watching the delicate floating clouds whilst contemplating the circle of life their brief floral window represents.
I remember a few years ago Ken and I were visiting Japan on business and happened to be “stuck” in Osaka over a weekend in Early April.
In true Owen Barry fashion – Ken & I wanted to get “value for money” over our free weekend and the ideal itinerary included – Kyoto the city of 2,000 ancient Buddhist and Shinto temples & shrines, a Cherry Blossom celebration and the Shinhausen bullet train ride.
We arrived at the train station early on Saturday morning and bought our bullet train tickets from a slightly askance ticket officer who kept asking “why?” – the ultra-efficient super-fast journey took us barely 15mins and I guess we got nowhere near to 360 miles per hour, but at least we had been on it - bucket list item –tick.
I remember Kyoto was very warm and dry, we started walking thru the winding streets visiting the stunning temples with manicured gardens, the huge Buddha, admiring the many ladies in traditional kimono’s, everywhere was an assault on the senses, the colours, the beautiful places of worship, the panoramic views out from the terraces of the pagoda temple, tea ceremonies and of course everything was interspersed with the delicate froth of pink and white cherry blossom clouds.
Saturday came and went as we walked, walked and walked from one temple and blossom filled garden to the next enjoying the quiet beauty of the idyllic Zen places.
Being away from home on business and travelling without your family is never as enjoyable as it is cracked up to be , however, in this instance it was a most wonderful opportunity to catch a glimpse of Japanese culture and heritage at its absolute best.