Hanami: Japan’s Cherry Blossoms Set to Lift National Spirits

The nation was too stunned last year to partake in the national ritual of “hanami” cherry blossom viewing after the March 11 disasters left more than 18,000 dead or missing, but now people are in the mood.

The first cherry tree, or “sakura,” blossomed in Kochi Prefecture last week and the light pink glitter will soon spread across the archipelago, giving the nation a much-needed uplift.

Last year, cherry blossoms were a poignant sight, highlighting the evanescent nature of the pink florets. There was a strong feeling throughout Japan of walking in lockstep with the disaster victims and a collective self-restraint set in, with many people forgoing their usual pleasant pursuits, including hanami.

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