Here Comes Spring
Q: What's pink and fluffy?
A: Pink fluff.
Seriously, though, of all the symbols associated with Japan, it's the cherry blossom that's about as representative as it gets. They symbolise the short life of all things beautiful and conveniently mark the beginning of the academic and job-transfer season at the same time. They're in full bloom in Tottori right now, and I had every intention of uploading one of the local pictures I took a couple of days ago, but alas I've been home so infrequently of late that I just couldn't manage to get any off my camera and onto the computer here, but I may be able to do so in the next few days. Suffice it to say that the flowers are in bloom.
The popular thing to do at this time of year is to sit with a group of people on blue tarp in the midst of the blooming trees, and usually talk and imbibe alcoholic beverages. (This last part really doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but neither does the whole cache of cultures and customs built up around the drinking of poison in general.) It seems to be wildly popular with Japanese and Other alike, and by this time just about everyone I know has gone to do 'hanami'. I've had an eyeful on my way to and from my various occupations about town, and actually did partake of a sort of gathering in the park in splendid floral company.
The thing is, whereas for most people the blossoming pink trees seem to recall joy and festivity and the wonderful outdoors of spring, for me they more represent that very short time of the Japanese year when it's barely but not quite summer yet but neither is winter completely over. In other words, you'll be cold if you take your jacket off, but you'll start sweating soon after you put it back on. There may come a day when my body adjusts to this time of year, or the weather itself accomodates itself to my bodily thermometer. Either case will be miraculous.