How many beginnings are there in our live?
A birth, a new school day, the end of a cycle that heralds another, the beginning of summer, the first day of the year.
In Japan the start of a new cycle coincides with the arrival of Spring. On March 21, globally assumed as the day of the spring equinox, it is in fact a national holiday, families and students (who have just started a new school year) go to the parks and on the banks of the rivers to see, if there are any, the first cherry blossoms or plum blossoms, which anticipate what is a real event here: the Hanami or the Flowering, that moment when spring bursts like a bomb of petals and perfumes, before which it is impossible to remain helpless.
The Japanese language has a verb for this moment and it is お 花 見 す る and it literally means “to go and see the cherry blossoms” and usually this action is carried out with friends, with the family, perhaps eating an onigiri under the foliage full of pink bunches, with themed drinks, with glasses of rosé wine and strawberries. There are real predictions for cherry blossoms, updated first monthly and then weekly that try to predict what nature is by definition: the country is divided into colored areas of every shade of pink (clearly) and next to each city shows the start date of flowering sanctioned by the first timid buds. The entire natural operation is completed in about a week, depending on the weather and the temperatures that at night these days still appear quite fresh, but it is a short period, which must be fully experienced in each phase: if a day on the tree under the house there were only hints of pink, the next morning it is possible to find it corollated by a cloud of cotton candy, in a single night, suddenly. And so, what is the cherry blossom, if not a perfect metaphor for the transience of life and the necessary renewal in us to have the duty to live it at every moment with the same intensity? Because it is short just like the life of the sakura flower that holds its petals attached to the extreme and then yield, with joy, to the first strong wind, to the rain, knowing that it has done its marvel for itself and for others .
How do you prepare Tokyo for this appointment? Well, definitely in advance and with great fanfare. The Japanese brands (but not only) and the shops are massively preparing to ride the wave and the enormous media and economic return that these few days have on the image of the country, decorating every packaging, every furniture, every imaginable corner of flowers and floral designs, in what is in effect a pastel pink overdose. The banks of the rivers, which are favorite spots for Japanese and tourists alike to admire the branches of the trees that descend towards the river bed coloring it with warm shades, are invaded by local street food trucks, by shops that successfully improvise large mixers of themed cocktails. You can smell the sweet smell of cut strawberries that will be put in rosé champagne flutes in the air, the streets become an open-air meeting place where you can chat while strolling under the lighting of the bright pink lanterns. The large city parks become laden tables of baskets, sandwiches and cold beer, sometimes even post-work meetings with colleagues, making the hanami one of the few moments of leisure and real break in a country where work and dedication are at the top to a ranking that sees them as the only protagonists.
Spring here is a moment lived in the round. The cities and the thousands of tourists who have flocked in recent days await this moment of the year with almost childlike trepidation: Buddhist and Shinto temples, which often have beautiful flower gardens inside, reveal an even more intense beauty with fuchsia azalea bushes , with the magnolias, with the florists who expose orchids so perfect and homogeneous as to wonder if they are true. And yes, they are because in this city in which metropolitan area 35 million people live out of a total of 120 in the national territory, where the cold glass of the buildings is often a mirror of a complex urbanity that is, for a few days a year, it becomes an echo of a world show, unique in its genre, where nature orchestrates itself to compose a symphony made of every instrument at its disposal, leaving the eyes of men full of colors as when kids turned the carousel turned too strong and the colors mixed between them.
And when, away from this land thousands of kilometers but surprisingly close to it, Paolo Neruda said “I want to do with you what spring does with cherry trees” was right because there is no something more beautiful than the sun that comes to open what for a whole long winter it remained dormant within a rigid bark.