Hanami is there ! The traditional, utmost-Japanese tradition of going out in the parks to view and enjoy the full blossoming of cherry trees at this time of the year is back. On this occasion, friends, colleagues and family gather under the trees, drinking sake and beer (sodas for the kids) and eating food... Hanami signals the end of winter but here in this country there's a plus, it bears an almost religious or philosophical character regarding the yearly wonder of life and putting things into perspective after so much effort devoted to work and long hours to fuel the economy.
Predicting the date of cherry blossom is a difficult exercise every year and the target is often missed by the cherry-blossom forecast sites, this year making no exception. The blossoming was supposed to begin its full blown stage around march 25 but it happened actually a few days earlier, wednesday march 20, a public holiday in Japan (Equinox day, or spring), which was a wonderful chance as people and family could go en masse to the parks.
It seems that Tokyo has resumed its full-blown Hanami parties two years after the Tohoku disasters. This very Hanami at Ueno had been canceled in 2011 in the wake of the mourning and the ones that weren't canceled were very somber as all the attention was focused on the aftermath of the tsunami (see article).
Most of these pictures were shot during this very first day of Hanami 2013 in Ueno Park, Tokyo.
Lots of technical means are often devoted by the Japanese for this worship picture : a tripod or even a folding ladder, lenses and camera bodies that I'd dream to have for my own photo work, and what seemed to be hours of intense research for the best angle and frame. Even if most people would use their phone, tablet or compact digital camera, they share the same worship for this spring event and I'm almost sure that the pictures will be widely shared and often printed.
Well, let's compromise, here is cherry-blossom picture with a human background. I've not seen elsewhere so many smart phones and tablets shooting at the same target in unison. It's the Japanese tradition going along the lst technical gadgets and tools. We're used elsewhere in the world to modernity uprooting deeply-rooted traditions, but here there's no antagonism, the latter even giving a hand to the former.