There is a popular saying in Japanese: dumplings over blossoms, which basically implies that substance is better than beauty. However, this simple phrase may sell short the exceptional phenomenon of cherry-blossom season in Japan. Kavan Choksi mentions that every year, over the course of a few weeks, cherry trees across Japan burst into bloom, and paints the entire nation in shades of white and pink. The interest in Cherry Blossom season of Japan has gone up over the decades, making it a boon for the country’s economy.
Kavan Choksi talks about the much popular Cherry Blossom season in Japan
Cherry blossoms in Japanese are known as Sakura. Cherry blossoms are considered to be a symbolic flower of the spring, the fleeting nature of life and a time of renewal. The life of cherry blossoms is really short. Their beauty peaks around two weeks, and then the blossoms start to fall.
During the season of Sakura in Japan, people commonly have cherry blossom parties with family, friends and colleagues. They enjoy barbecuing, drinking and eating underneath the cherry blossoms. This custom is known as Hanami. Hanami basically means to “watch blossoms”, and this tradition can be traced back to about a thousand years or so. People bring snacks, sweets, alcohol and cooked meals to a Hanami party, much like a potluck party. Viewing spots are crowded with people, even at night, who desire to enjoy the blossoms in a romantic and charming ambiance.
Even offices and schools host welcome parties during Hanami, and provide people with a chance to bond and make new friends. Kavan Choksi points out that while American schools start in the fall, the Japanese school and fiscal year begins in the month of April, during the season of Sakura. In Japan, it is believed that fully bloomed cherry blossoms celebrate and welcome a brand new start in the life of the people. Sakura zume is a type of bonus given out during cherry blossom in Japan. This bonus is usually 10-20% of the salary of an employee and is meant to thank them for their hard work.
Over the last decade or so, the Sakura season has managed to develop a distinctive global appeal. Hence, a lot of tourist visit Japan during this time. Almost 63 million people travel to and within Japan to view the bloom, and spend about $2.7 billion in the process. The weaker yen additionally comes as a boon for looking to enjoy a nice long vacation in the country. For the government in Japan, Cheery Blossoms provides an opportunity to spur economic growth and convince investors that this country has a lot to offer. The total economic impact of the cherry blossom is about $5.8bn.
The wave of cherry-blossom is not just limited to Japan. In the year of 1912, 3,020 trees were sent from Yokohama to Washington, D.C., as a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States. These trees are also a huge tourist draw in their own right.