It’s Tough Being a Cherry Blossom This Year

Season changes in Japan tend to arrive like clockwork, and few changes are as well predicted (and highly anticipated) as the blooming of the cherry blossoms (“sakura”). A cherry-blossom tree in full bloom is truly more than the sum of its parts, presenting an almost unearthly, indescribable beauty that no photograph can capture (although that doesn't stop hordes of both amateur and professional photographers from trying, myself included.)

Thus, it was with doubtless disappointment that the throngs of tourists that descend upon Kyoto this past weekend (many, certainly, from all over Japan, with tours scheduled long in advance) were treated to chilly fall-like brisk winds and an unwelcome but quite manifest lack of cherry blossoms. If you looked carefully, though, you could see a few blossoms here and there (of which the picture above is a pair), but that's like seeing a few dabs of paint (as opposed to a masterpiece painting), so it's of little consolation.

Yesterday (Wednesday) it was finally much warmer and there were a few rare areas that were finally almost in full bloom. I went out for a bike ride with Anthony and Katsunori Shimada, a long-time friend, and we sat at a little plaza near Shijo/Kawamachi and it was just wonderful.

I thought today might be The Day that widespread blossomage might happen, but it turns out that it's cold and rainy, so it seems that Mother Nature has it in for the cherry-blossom viewing season this year.

From my front door I can see over to an area adjacent to where I'll be moving in the fall, around where there are lots of cherry trees. I can see a half-hearted attempt at blooming, with the current result looking more like a molting animal than the heavenly-soft puffs of beauty all are looking forward to.

Tomorrow and the next day are supposed to be sunny but not warm, with rain following on Sunday and into the week. Here's hoping we get lucky.


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