Cherry blossoms (AKA sakura) are fetishized in Japan. The way in which cherry tree seeds have been strewn across the landscape, creating avenues of white explosions, can appear like a virile obsession. Yet they’re also the epitome of beauty and regarded in such a wondrous manner that one might think that they’re only seen once a century. Actually they bloom for one – two weeks in early April, and every year the mania sets in.
Let me explain. Not only are they dotted around in manga-style pictures, no doubt to add a touch of fragility to the already fragile virgins, but I even saw a guy publicly masturbating by them (post coming soon). Just like the rose came to be associated with the feminine form within European culture, maybe the sakura hold a more sensual connection in Japan.
The majority of people, fortunately, don’t whip down their pants at the sight of sakura – they whip out their cameras, their picnic rugs and several bottles of alcohol, and sit around outside at a hanami (literally, flower-looking) event. In reality, this is an excuse for many people to get wasted. I did plenty of hanami – minus the alcohol. And mainly minus the picnicking as well (it’s my duty to restaurant hunt, so I tell myself).
Scroll down for sakura saturation, brought to you from various locations around Kansai.
Section 1: Hikone-jo, Hikone, Shiga prefecture
Hikone Castle is situated in a park full of a thousand cherry trees.
Section 2: Maruyama Park, Higashiyama, Kyoto
Famed for a very grand Weeping Cherry Tree, a festival atmosphere settles across this park, and people eat and drink and be merry.
Section 3: Sosui, Yamashina, Kyoto
I’m lucky enough to live near a canal area, which has also been sprayed with sakura seeds. It also features some overgrown yellow plants, creating a spectacularly colourful, flowery effect.
Section 4: Around Kyoto
My camera’s been having a little trouble focussing on these snow-like scenes. Here are a few for your perusal: