Noilly Prattle: Hanami [花見]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hanami [花見]

     HANAMI [花見] is an annual rite of spring in Japan when the Japanese go out to look at their beloved  (sakura - cherry trees). Hanami literally means "looking at flowers", but it doesn't only mean looking. It is a time of family picnics under the cherry trees or friends' get-togethers to celebrate the reawakening of the earth and life with eating, drinking and singing karaoke in one cherry orchard or another. 

     The short life span of the cherry blossoms symbolizes the ephemerality of all life to the Japanese; accordingly they are beautiful but for a moment in time and they evoke a certain melancholy for how brief life is for all creatures. 

     Although winters are not excessively cold in southern Japan they are cold enough and long enough to make the coming of the cherry blossoms a very welcome sight, one that encourages the shedding of winter coats and getting out of the house in the brightening and greening and briefly pinking out of doors. 

     Japanese shrines and temples are almost always festooned with cherry trees which show off their beauty best in those surroundings of old wood and tiled or thatched roofs and well-tended precincts. One of our favorite shrine/temple complexes Kibitsu Shrine is only a half-hour drive away and we sometimes go there for walking exercise so it was great to combine walking and hanami recently. 

     But we don't really have to go very far from our house to look at the blooming spring. Just a half hour circuit around the house and down into the valley and up again presents the eye with a wealth of color. Consequently I've decided to post two groups of photos in one post: the first set is from the Kibitsu Shrine complex taken when the cherry blossoms were in their early stage of blooming; the second set taken during a neighborhood walk when the blossoms are already beginning to fall. 

Kibitsu Shrine 

wide overhanging eaves of Kibitsu Shrine
old stone lantern and old wood
red Camellia

hanging cherry tree

sakura, wood and roof  tiles

water wheel

a typical sight during cherry season

new branches and old lichen


Around the Hood

the hills are alive with the colors of spring

our red Robin and sakura tree
Nanohana (rape blossoms)

yours truly

our blue house


working in peach orchard

how green is my valley

high noon

foot path in the valley

steps to the valley walking path below our house

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