29: cherry blossom | only when it's pretty news at abelard.org
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29: cherry blossom

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29: cherry blossom - the auroran sunset

Here at abelard.org, we take a lot of photographs. Many of them are pretty or interesting. This is the twenty-ninth in a regular “photograph with little or no explanation or comment” feature.

It is almost time for the cherry trees to bloom forth. Cherry blossom is an impressively precise harbinger of spring, with all the trees in a particular area blooming forth at almost the same time. A week or so after they bloom, all the petals drop within a few days of each other, creating a lovely white snow-like blanket on the ground.

Japan takes their cherry blossom - called “sakura” - very seriously. There are cherry trees planted all over Japan, with cherry avenues in ever town, big and small. From January, you will hear regular news and weather items predicting late or early bloom (mostly early nowadays). The latest forecasts have the Tokyo cherry trees blooming next week, which is a couple of weeks early. The blooms have already started further south.

Once the flowers come out, the Japanese take their plastic blankets, picnics, hired barbecues (“yakiniku”), beer and friends to sit under the trees and party. This ritual is known as “hanami”, or “flower watching”. Be careful to not to confuse “hanami” with “hanabi”, which are fireworks and celebrated in similar fashion at summer festivals all across Japan.

Here are some photos of cherries blooming in different Japanese locales. Some may be plum blossom, which appears around the same time. First an enormous cherry avenue at one of the big Kyoto temples:

Avenue of cherry trees blooming in a Kyoto temple. Image credit: the auroran sunset

One of the trees in full bloom in a park near my ex-house:

Cherry tree in full bloom. Image credit: the auroran sunset

This is a house that was on my route to school. This may be plum blossom. There are lots of different sorts of cherry blossom, with slightly different colours and shapes. I never know which is which. Notice the gorgeous traditional Japanese roof tiles:

A traditional Japanese house with plum/cherry blossoms in front. Image credit: the auroran sunset

A cherry tree at a small shrine near my ex-house:

Cherry tree at a small Shinto shrine. Image credit: the auroran sunset

A cherry tree shading a Buddhist statue at a Nara temple:

A cherry tree over a Buddhist statue at a Nara temple. Image credit: the auroran sunset

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