In the Pink: Cherry Blossoms and Kites in DC and across the globe
It's that time of year again already. Rather than focus on how 2008 is 1/4 finished, let us instead turn our attention to cherry blossoms...
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is underway in Washington, DC, attracting cherry blossoms and the people who love them. Following yesterday's opening ceremony, the festival will run until April 3. Check out the official site for more details, and, should you visit, send us some photos.
The Cherry Blossom viewing festivals in DC and across the U.S. originate in part from the "Sakura Matsuri" festivals in Japan. These festivals are also known part of the "Hanami" or "flower viewing" traditions.
In Japan, Hanami viewings often mean picnics under blossoming trees. Families, classmates and workmates get together, roll-out picnic-mats, bring food and drinks for the festivities which last can last the whole afternoon into the evenings, when the lighted cherry canopies overhead are even more lovely.
The popular hanami spots are extremely crowded and are fiercely contested! It's commonplace for one member of the group to come early in the morning to the spot, spread out the picnic mat, mark it with the group's name and viewing time. Members of the group may take turns making sure no one takes their spot
If you find yourself in Tokyo from late March to mid-April, here's a link to the most popular Hanami spots.
Spring flower festivals are important cultural traditions throughout Asia, and there are many parks and river-side walks famous for spring flower gatherings.
But it seems, the popular sakura matsuris are not without their controversies. Cherry blossom viewings are popular in Korea but it is a practice decried by some Korean historians. They say that "sakura matsuris" are not part of traditional Korean springtime culture.
The cherry trees that bloom in popular and historic Korean sites such as Yeouido and Jinhae were in fact planted by the Japanese during the occupation period.
They were brought over by the Japanese during the Japanese occupation of Korea to symbolize Japanese political and cultural domination over Korea. Thus, some Korean nationalists call for abolishing the sakura festivities in Korea.