Japan is a nation with four distinct seasons and abundant, beautiful natural scenery. From long ago, the Japanese people have enjoyed the distinct attributes of winter, spring, summer and fall. Whether partaking in activities or celebrations that come with the change in seasons or enjoying delicious seasonal delicacies, the Japanese people are thankful for the bounty and beauty that nature has bestowed upon them.
This love of nature is reflected in Japanese arts and culture. The haiku, which I am sure that most of you are familiar with, and which is the pinnacle of Japanese poetic expression, must and most prominently features a reference to nature
If you ask Japanese people which season they most enjoy, most will say, “Spring.” Given how Japanese are moved so much by nature, I am sure that you can imagine how wonderful spring in Japan must be. As the snow begins to melt and the days gradually become warmer, spring is the time when one can directly feel thanks for the warmth of the sun. Spring is also a time to enjoy wonderful seasonal foods including sansai ryori, a delicacy the taste of which reflects the transition of the seasons. Sansai or mountain vegetables have an initial bitter taste but after a few moments, their wonderful aroma and sweetness prevail in the same manner that the spring visits after a long, cold winter.
For many Japanese, the cherry blossoms that emerge in the spring are Japan and embody the Japanese view of the world. The Japanese love for cherry blossoms in not something that is felt on a rational level, but rather it is in the Japanese DNA. Unlike a gorgeous rose or lily, the cherry blossom has an ephemeral beauty that is enjoyed but for a brief period of time before they scatter in a warm spring breeze. The Japanese love for cherry blossoms is difficult to explain in words but one, which you will surely feel and understand when you visit Japan during this beautiful time of the year.
This spring, under the snow like cherry blossoms, enjoy delicious sansai ryori and Japanese sake while composing your own haiku and enjoy the best that Japan has to offer.
by Mitsuna Satooka