Japan’s cherry blossom viewing parties – the history of chasing the fleeting beauty of sakura:
As a lecturer in Japanese studies, the first questions I ask my students is: “What sort of images come to mind when you think of Japan?” The answers usually include advanced technologies, red shrine gates, anime and great food – such as sushi, ramen and so on. They also often say a landscape awash in a gentle pink with sakura cherry blossom.
Each spring, cherry blossoms grace Japan with colour for a brief and beautiful moment. Such is the fleeting nature of this eagerly anticipated yearly phenomenon that most Japanese news channels cover the flowering. The Japan Meteorological Agency also issues a full-bloom forecast, which follows the blooming as it starts from the south and spreads across the north of Japan. This way no one misses out.