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We all love nature and cherish the natural beauty around us. The onset of spring gives us a new feel and brings us more closer to the nature than ever. The eyes cherish the lush green views while the nose feels the fragrance of the flowers and the vegetation; giving us a new vibe and taking our innate love for nature to new heights. Though knowing that the spring lasts for only a couple of weeks we still wait for this season throughout the year.
As described in my previous post, humankind has been celebrating spring over the last thousands of years in different colourful ways. One nation on the face of planet Earth has got its own way of celebrating the spring season. They call it the flower viewing festival and mark it with deep love and respect for nature especially cherry blossom. Never ever have we seen the viewing of flowers carried out so devotedly that itself became a ritual.
The following pictures show the awe-inspiring Japanese festival of viewing flowers called Hanami.
Hanami is the Japanese traditional festival of savoring the beauty of flowers especially the cherry blossom. It originates from the Japanese words ‘hana’ which means flower and ‘mi’ which means seeing. People across the country flock to the gardens to view the beautiful pink attractions. (Photo – ajpscs)
Television channels in the country broadcast special blossom forecast. It keenly followed by Hanami enthusiasts as the bloom lasts for just couple of weeks. [Update, April 8, 2010: Breaking the decades old tradition, this year Japanese television channels did not forecast the blossom dates due to last year's lapses. However, thousands of people across the country keenly monitored the cherry blossom trees and made their own forecasts followed by millions of Hanami enthusiasts on social networking sites.]
Special arrangements are made for night time viewing of the cherry blossom. (Photo – Carlos A Varela)
Traditional meals called ‘Bento’ are in huge demand during the Hanami season. (Photo – Blue Lotus)
The observation of the festival dates back to hundreds of years and is said to have originated when Empress Gemmei founded then Japanese capital Nara in 710 AD. (Photo – Christopher L Peacock)
A view of the Summer Palace in Beijing. The custom is thought to be borrowed from the Chinese Yang Dynasty which had a tradition of cherishing natural beauty. The Tang rulers regarded flowers as a symbol of purity and planted it in the grounds of the Emperor’s palace. (Photo – guzhengman)
The flower viewing festival marks the beginning of the rice planting season in the country. Centuries ago people across the country made offering to gods and celebrated the onset of spring. (Photo – Steph & Adam)
The festival enjoyed the patronage of the emperors during the Nara, Heian, Kamakura and Edo periods of Japanese history and its popularity soared manifold. (Photo – jpellgen)
Japanese poets take deep interest in Hanami by writing poems that eulogise the custom of viewing flowers. Flowers are analogous to life in Japanese poetry and signifies its colours, fragrance and briefness. (Photo – Edamame Obake)
The Tokugawa Emperor Tokugawa Yoshimune took the festival to new heights as he ordered the plantation of cherry blossom across the country. People enjoyed the beautiful views of cherry blossom, resting under its shadow and having parties to mark the harvest and beginning of the rice plantation. (Photo – Naomi – rockcake)
Even today the Japanese people continue the tradition of flower viewing by gathering in great numbers under the cherry blossom trees. So-called ‘welcoming parties’ are held during this time of the year that also coincides with the beginning of the fiscal as well as the scholastic year. (Photo – まてぃあすMattias)
Tokyo Tower in the backdrop of sakura. Despite the passage of hundreds of years, the Japanese have maintained an unprecedented harmony between their traditions and modernism. In spite of a busy and high-tech lifestyle, people still take some time out to contemplate and admire the works of nature while celebrating the meaning of life. (Photo – shinnygogo)