Cherry blossoms in Japan

By Lizzie Yin Source:Global Times Published: 2015-4-13 17:38:01

On a drizzly evening at Nijo Castle, the former residence of Japanese shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), I found myself surrounded by hundreds of cherry blossom trees.

I was so mesmerized by the gentle descent of the fragile petals that I momentarily forgot about all my physical ailments: stiff limbs from the long flight; aching shoulders from lugging around my heavy suitcase and camera equipment; the bitter cold and my wet shoes.

In this moment, I couldn't blame the hoards of other Chinese tourists for also making the trip over for blooming of the cherry blossom trees. While such trees also grow in China, the experience of seeing them in Japan is entirely different. 

The cherry blossom tree, known as the sakura in Japanese, embodies the concept of mono no aware - a bittersweet melancholy at the passing of things, and the awareness that transience is the condition of life. Famously, sakura trees only flower for one week each year, which is celebrated by hanami festivals around the country, in which people traditionally hold picnics to admire the delicate dance of cherry blossom petals. 

In China, where there are no such traditions around the cherry blossom tree, it is impossible to replicate such an experience.

Of course, there are people who are quick to point out that the sakura flower originated in China, and who try to use this fact to claim that the cherry blossom trees in China are just as, if not more beautiful than those in Japan. But to my mind, this view is delusional, and requires a narrow-minded desire to affirm that their own culture is the best. Such a view prevents these people from experiencing things that are truly extraordinary. 

Earlier this year, this same sarcastic, cynical bunch mocked Chinese tourists for flocking to Japan to buy toilet seats. While I cannot speak to whether or how much these Japanese toilet seats are better, it is clear to me that a comfortable toilet seat can greatly improve one's quality of life. So for those who think I am silly for spending my hard-earned savings to see the sakura in Japan, when there are also cherry blossom trees in China, I have only one thing to say.

Try it for yourself, and then you'll see. 

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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