Thursday, April 1, 2010

cherry blossom viewing

We associate April with cherry blossom viewing party.
Tokugawa Yoshimune(1684-1751), the eighth shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, ordered to plant yoshino cherry trees for cherry-blossom viewing so people in Edo(old Tokyo) went on a cherry viewing picnic. Many people from commoners to aristocrats enjoyed having parties under the cherry blossoms and drinking sake. Now places where the trees were planted are known for the magnificent cherry trees.
Today, the cherry blossoms have become in full bloom in Tokyo.

Various dishes are set in tiered lacquer boxes and tokkuri(徳利:liquor bottle) is on the bottom of the end table. People went cherry viewing picnic with a portable wooden case containing tiered boxes and a liquor flask like picnic hamper. The rich took gorgeous lacquer cases and common people did plain ones.
This year, many people prepared homemade dishes for the picnic in an effort to cut corners.

Koto is a traditional Japanese stringed instrument and is played with plectrums. Playing koto was an accomplishment for women. One of my junior high friends had learned koto, and her mother bought her a kimono dress at every koto recital.

An incense burner in the shape of the Japanese pheasant(雉, kiji) which is the Japanese national bird. It's also edible in some areas.
In Japanese folk tale "Momotaro," it went with the hero Momotarou. There is a a well-known proverb, "If a pheasant doesn't sing a song, it would not be shot by a hunter".
Hanging scroll with a painting of the cherry-blossomed Yoshino-yama mountain(吉野山) that have long been known for the cherry blossoms.

On April 1, many companies in Japan held ceremonies to welcome their new employees. However, About 20 percent of university graduates were not able to get jobs lined up.
In Japan, new employees used to hold a good place for the cherry-blossom viewing party during working hours. In recent years, the cherry blossoms have fallen before the assignment of new employees because the cherry blossoms flower earlier than before.


  1. Hello! I am writing to you from Cambridge, England - today I wrote a poem for a friend who passed away. It is about the cherry tree and spring...
    I shall post it up soon...
    Hope you are enjoying the beauty of Japan?

  2. Shaista, thank you for your message!
    Half of the cherry blossoms in my neighborhood have been fallen.
    But blooming only for a short period of time adds value to cherry blossoms.
    I'm looking forward to reading your new poem.