I have updated my flickr site again, this time with pictures of the national obsession in Japan, the Sakura. Cherry blossoms, or sakura, or the kanji 桜 are really beautiful. They really are a Japanese obsession, but if you going to be obessed with something, why not a flowering tree? On the news there are nightly reports of where to see the best blossoms, how far up the archipelago the blossoms have spread. There are sakura viewing parties, special sakura related items, sakura, sakura, SAKURA. Plus they are featured very heavily in anime, anyone that has seen more than two anime series/movies knows the classic “sakura pedals blowing in the wind” bit. So sakura are very deeply ingrained in the culture, and I can see why. I really find them quite stunning. Japan really goes all out and has planted a lot of sakura trees. It is really nice to be on the train looking at the drab city and then zoom past a street lined as far as the eye can see with sakura trees in full bloom. The delicate pink/white of the pedals is such a gorgeous color. I have really fallen in love with cherry tree blossoms. I am really looking forward to when they start to fall off and I can get that perfect anime "sakura blowing in the wind" moment. Until then, I am very content enjoying them whenever I am outside.
As a language aside, I find the kanji for sakura interesting. The kanji for sakura ( 桜 ) on the far left contains the kanji for tree ( 木 ). The next part is actually two kanji one on top of the other. On top is the kanji for decoration ( ツ ) and below it is the kanji for woman ( 女 ) The sakura tree's kanji literally read is, "a tree [like] a woman with a [beautiful] hair ornament." That is why kanji are not literally read, kanji convey meaning in a fundamentally different way than English characters. Thus, when you put tree 木 decoration ツ and woman 女 together, you get 桜. I thought that was cool, and you should too.