During a two-week period in early spring, corporate productivity grinds to a sudden halt as the masses take to the local parks to partake of the annual tradition of hanami. The English translation of ‘flower viewing’ is a loose one indeed, as very few people actually take the time to look away from their cups of booze to gaze at the flowers.
Here in Osaka, the parks become jam-packed with huge crowds of people, each with their own plastic tarp to spread out under the floral canopy. For some reason, Japanese people seem to have an aversion to actually sitting directly on the ground, even if it is a fresh patch of green grass.
The men on the lower rung of the corporate ladder are send hours ahead to scope out and protect the best spots in the park.
Most of the livelier festivities happen long after sundown, and during the day, you’ll probably find some people that have forgotten why they came to the park in the first place.
Funnily enough, this custom of flower viewing is by and large restricted to the more congested urban areas. Trips out to the suburbs are more subdued, with small, sober crowds actually taking the time to appreciate the beauty of the fresh petals……
…….rather than peddling their 2-part harmonies at apathetic passersby.
The further you go from civilization, however, the smaller the throngs, until they disappear completely, leaving only the sound of the wind sifting through the trees. In the rural areas, the locals are too preoccupied with preparing their fields for the upcoming planting to spare a moment to sit under the trees. This makes for ample opportunities to enjoy nature the way it was intended.