Do you know that the cherry blossom flower is a special flower for the Japanese people? In Japan, we have a spring celebration called “Hanami.” Hanami is the Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers–“flower” almost always meaning cherry blossoms, or “sakura”. In modern-day Japan, Hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura, either during the day or at night with family and friends. Also, cherry blossom season is very short; therefore it was used by Samurai to symbolize their philosophy of the short life of nationalism.
For me, and probably most other Japanese students here in the U.S., the arrival of cherry blossoms evokes a strong sense of nostalgia for Japan. It is not directly connected to my hometown, family, or friends, but rather suggests the idea of Japan and the inner connection between myself and Japanese culture.
I expected to see cherry blossoms when I went to Japan for spring break. I haven’t gone back to Japan in the last three years. Unfortunately, last week was not blooming time for cherries in Tokyo, so I came back to Portland full of disappointment.
However, there is a place for cherry blossom viewing here in Portland: “Japan Plaza” at the Water Front Park. They have many Asian cherry trees, and last year I enjoyed Hanami there. During the last three years of living in a foreign country, I have learned alternative ways to find Japan in the U.S. I think this is a survival technique as I make my own ethnicity between two cultures. I feel that cherry blossom viewing at Water Front Park connects my past and present life.