Hanami is the Japanese tradition of f flowering viewing, particularly the cherry blossoms that appear every spring. From early March, trees across the world begin to show their distinct and gentle pink and white blossoms. People flock to populated locations to witness this brief, albeit yearly, attraction. Because everyone knows that, at the first sign of rain, the blossoms will be gone.
The residential district of Nakameguro in Japan is one of the most famous locations with the banks of the Meguro River forming a beautiful tunnel of trees. Once a year, in the spring, these trees blossom to life, turning the world around them pink. By night, the area is lit up and thousands of people take a walk beneath the blossomed boughs. Food and drink vendors set up shop and, for a few short weeks, the area is a sea of pastel.
The evening is warm and, as the sun is setting, you decide to take a walk beneath the blooms. The trees run for over two kilometres, turning the area into a mini wonderland, if only for a short time.
You arrive with many other people and find yourself standing beneath branches that stretch the full way across the path. Easing yourself among the handful of others, you step onto a bridge. Your breath is taken away by the sight. Lanterns line the railings and the water below has been turned a gentle pink. A slight breeze tickles the branches and a handful of petals slowly float down into the river.
From looking at photographs you know that, once the petals begin to let go, the river will become an ocean of natural confetti. A ribbon of colour breaking up a city. You ponder coming back to see that and witnessing the leaves slowly breaking through.
Spring is a beautiful time, a period when life begins to show itself once more. You are feeling hopeful as the long, and cold, winter ends. You can feel yourself slowly emerging from the wintery cocoon that you built. You're looking forward to the warmer weather and spending more time in the sun. The winter has taken its toll and everyone is looking forward to stocking up on some vital vitamin D.
You spend several minutes on the bridge, just leaning on the railings and looking at the sky of pink above you. The scene is so beautiful and incredibly gentle.
As the sky grows golden and the sun sinks lower, you join the handful of people who are walking beneath the boughs. More people will come but, by that point, you'll be long gone. You're enjoying just how empty the space is in an otherwise busy and crowded city. There is time to pause and breathe and appreciate the moment that you're in. Right now is a pause in time and a moment to reflect on the beauty of nature. All too often we race through our lives with little thought to the world around us.
The soft breeze continues to rustle through the knotted branches. The petals stir quietly and you gaze in awe at the swathe of pink that stretches for as far as the eye can see. Lanterns light the underside of the trees with a soft glow and you feel as though you're on another planet. The tree-lined river is a world of all of its own and a place that you could escape to forever, a fantasy utopia that lives only in dreams.
You lift your hand and run your fingers through the abundance of blossoms. A few split from their parent branches and gracefully fall into your palm. You cradle them in your outstretched hand and carry them until you can lean across the railing and gift them to the river below.
The breeze stills and the air begins to grow cooler. Through the trees you can see glimpses of night beginning to arrive. The street is becoming a little more crowded and you lean against the railings, your eyes turned towards the blanket of pink above you, and listen to the sound of a hundred different voices. Stalls are beginning to open and people sit themselves beneath the blossoms to eat and drink and talk.
As the crowd grows so you find yourself starting back for your hotel. You retrace your steps and weave around people. Yet you never take your eyes from the scene above you. Even with the influx of people, there is a serenity to the event. Everyone is there for the same reason. No one is there to party. All they're there for is to look at, and appreciate, the once a year phenomenon that grasps a city.