Almost Never Enough PINK

Since I was a bit long-winded in my last blog, I decided to cut to the chase today.  As I mentioned in my last blog, one reason I’m in Japan now is to celebrate spring in Japanese fashion.  The arrival of the cherry blossom season here is feverishly anticipated for weeks before the actual blooms appear. Forecasts for every part of the country tell the Japanese public exactly where and when to go to the sights with the most bang for the buck.  I pay attention to these forecast and follow the festive crowds, or more pleasurably find an off the beaten path spot to witness the extravaganza.
It’s a wonderful tradition and everyone gets swept up in it.  Year after year.
Pink swatches

Pink is a combination of the color red and white, a hue that can be described as a tint. It can range from berry (blue-based) pinks to salmon (orange-based) pinks. Its symbolism is complex and its popularity is subject to so many influences.

We can begin an analysis of pink by looking at natural and contemporary sources of this delicate color. First, regardless of your skin color, some part of your body is pink. So are sunsets, watermelons and Pepto Bismal. Depending on your age and culture, you may remember pink Cadillacs, pink flamingos (once considered in bad taste in American culture but now retro-chic), Pink Floyd, the Pink Panther, and the pink triangles of the Third Reich (which were used to identify male homosexuals).  colormatters.com

 

Today I took photos of only things that were pink.  I hope these photos give you a taste of my pink drenched day.  The blooms for the weeping cherries are mostly peaking, many other later varieties to follow over the next week.

Pink Encounters:  From first to last

  1.  Easter bunny in bakery counter of Daimaru Dep’t store
  2.  Ema votive tablets wishes and prayers written by visitors at Kodaiji Temple.
  3. The magnificent weeping cherry tree in splendid solitude at Kodaiji in Kyoto.
  4. More delectables in pastry case
  5. Alstromeria pink
  6. Folk art yarn ball (temari)
  7. Do you need a new purse?
  8. 9.  Better not miss out on Easter

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Must be Seen (again and again)

You are familiar with the statement, “Must be seen to be believed.” In the case of cherry blossom season, this is not an exaggeration.  It is truly a take – your – breath – away experience to be ingested and savored.

The attachment the Japanese and I have to Sakura cannot be overemphasized.  Weeks before the blossoms appear, forecasts appear, predicting when and where cherry blossom season will begin and spread across this island nation. The color pink appears in hankies and scarfs, cakes, drinks and candies.  Artificial branches of pink cherry blossoms are hung in shopping arcades.  Increasing numbers of kimono-wearing women appear on the street, adding to the sense of anticipation and sense of occasion.

You would be forgiven if you thought that it’s all overblown, or if you’ve seen it one time, you do not need to see it again.  You’d only think that if you had never truly experienced it.

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Sakura holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of the Japanese people.  Much has been written about the centuries – long attraction of the blossoms to the Japanese.  Now, 21st c. publicity and travel opportunities have contributed to an influx of tourists from many lands, poised to descend on the most famous places in Japan to view sakura.  At times, in certain places, the crowds of people with camera phones become almost comical, if it weren’t so annoying.  The masses of people can easily distract me from the magnificence of the trees in bloom.

Yesterday, as the blooms intensified across Kyoto, we sought to view the flowers in a quieter location.  I wanted to be sure my family saw what all the fuss was about before they headed for Tokyo.  At the suggestion of a Japanese friend, we took our family inside the gates of the former Imperial Palace. Continue reading “Must be Seen (again and again)”

Hanami Overload?

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We (The trees and I) peaked today.  My insatiable appetite for cherry blossoms is seemingly satiated.  Cherrymania was at its most intense today when we traveled a bit out of town to visit the World Heritage Site Daigoji Temple, on everyone’s best-dressed list.  The weeping cherries at this temple are mostly an irresisible delicate pink. They cover acres of vast temple grounds. Many are over 700 years old.   Their dazzling presence casts a spell,  leading you on as if in a hypnotic trance, from one tree to the next.  They’re all beautiful. Each has its own identity, just different enough so that you don’t know when to call it a day.  Our steps were light in the morning when we arrived, but hours later, after taking in so much springtime effervescence, the air went out of the tires! I diagnosed Hanami overload!  At one point, I uttered the unthinkable:  I don’t think I can look at another tree!

What did people do before the use of cell phone cameras?  Hanami is a centuries old custom here, dating back to the 8th century.  Did the earlier observers make drawings, paintings, or just commit the dreamy visions before them to memory?  vintage hanami

Our way of viewing special moments now leaves little to memory alone. We crave evidence. Cell phone cameras make it all possible. Each of us has become an amateur photographer,  getting instant gratification with one little click.   Amusingly, we like the camera focused on ourselves almost as much as on the setting. I watched with fascination as pretty young Japanese women would automatically assume  a wistful, sweet, dreamy, gentle expression when getting ready for a photo. I imagine this is a specific genetic expression assumed when posing in front of sakura, that has been transferred for centuries from one generation to the next.  The women would position themselves so they could tenderly touch a blossom or two, or peak out from behind a lacy branch. Their expression would be impossible for a foreigner to emulate! NO, I didn’t even try.

Below, pink souvenirs of the season.

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As usual, the children steal the show!

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This group of little girls, all dressed beautifully for the occasion, taking delight in what must have been a photograph of themselves.

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This young man won my award for “Knowing What to Wear.”

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DSC04194We followed the crowds, took our pictures,.  At some junction the procession became tiresome and yet I was reluctant to leave.  We started to feel like the old Alka Seltzer ad from the late 60’s, I can’t believe ate the whole thing.

Before we departed I had to take one last photo of an ancient tree.  It seemed to signify the strength,endurance, yet fragility of this world of ours.big tree