- Title: JAPAN: Tokyo residents enjoy cherry blossoms in full bloom
- Date: 31st March 2010
- Summary: FOUR-YEAR-OLD TOKYO RESIDENT AKARI MINAMI AND HER FAMILY SITTING DOWN UNDER CHERRY TREES MINAMI EATING
- Embargoed: 15th April 2010 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Environment / Natural World,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVAEFZSDWWAQW76ISGU7TW8F59S1
- Story Text: The cherry blossom season begins in Japan, with Tokyo residents flocking to parks and holding picnics under the flowering trees.
Spring has begun, and so has the Japan's obsession with cherry blossoms.
The pale pink blossoms or "sakura" are in full bloom, signalling that it's time to flock to parks across the country for picnics under the cherry trees.
Though the blooms appear every year, the Japanese are always thrilled to see them. At Yoyogi Park, people waited for hours to reserve the best spots to view the picturesque trees.
These flower-viewing parties called "hanami", or "flower viewing" in Japanese, are spring traditions held among families, friends, or co-workers.
"Cherry blossoms in pink and white are cute and pretty," said Akari Minami, age four.
By midday, Yoyogi Park was full of young Tokyo fashionistas sporting the latest Harajuku styles. A group of girls in punk rock and childlike "lolita" style dresses sat under the cherry trees for hours talking about their favorite Japanese rock band.
A 15-year-old student, who goes by her Harajuku nickname "Tetsu", said she was wearing a pale pink dress and wig to match the cherry blossoms.
"Cherry blossoms are in full bloom and it's beautiful," Tetsu said.
Parties beneath the cherry trees can go on all day and night especially during the weekends.
"I really enjoy sitting down here with my friends eating and joking around," said 17-year-old student Megumi Kohara.
As the blossoms appear only briefly, throngs rush to catch a glimpse of them before spring rains sweep their fragile petals to the ground.
Some Japanese say that the cherry blossoms' fleeting nature serves as a poignant reminder of how life itself is fleeting.
Many sat under the billowing branches to eat, drink and make merry. Unlike in many countries, it is not illegal in Japan to drink in public spaces, and the hanami get-togethers involve plentiful beer and sake.
"Cherry blossoms bloom for such a short period of time and then they fall off the way in a dramatic way and I like to enjoy them while drinking," said Tsuneo Ikuhara, 65, said.
In Japan, the cherry blossoms are also associated with new beginnings as the country's business and school years start on April 1.
Cities conduct cherry blossom festivals and travel agencies plan sakura tours.
There are some 300 varieties of cherry blossoms.
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