I admire plum blossoms more than sakura on principle. Plum blossoms bloom in the last throes of winter, often surviving Ishikawa’s final snow storm. They smell sweeter and are more tenacious. There’s nothing sakura can do in form or shape that a plum can’t: they can be subtly tinged with pink or violently fuchsia; they can hang from delicate weeping boughs or bloom among thick, gnarled branches. But perhaps because of their staying power, taking several weeks to blossom fully, then remaining for another week or so before fading, they don’t induce the same joie de vivre that their more famous cousin, the cherry blossom, does.
Part of the sakura craze is, of course, weather-related. Plum blossoms tend to bloom in early March, not the ideal season for picnics as the changing fronts toy with the temperature. Cherry blossoms are the signal of true spring and promise weather appropriate for hanami (花見), flower-viewing. Plus, there’s an added element of time–because the blossoms go from buds to full-bloom to a storm of petals within 2 weeks, everyone catches a collective case of sakura fever, needing to go live in the moment and enjoy the hell out of the sakura before they are all gone. Today, I’d like to show a progression of the sakura taken from one spot in Kanazawa, the Kazuemachi tea district in Higashiyama. Kazuemachi is on the opposite side of the bridge from Higashi Chayagai, the most famous of Kanazawa’s tea districts, and has a picturesque lane of machiya, most of which have been converted into museums, galleries, and coffee shops.
This part of town is what really sold me on sakura–the feeling that there could be so much beauty in this world and not to forget to enjoy it to the fullest.
This post has been submitted to the JFesta for April 2012 on Japingu.