The Life Changing Experience of Hanami in Japan

The signs of spring are everywhere in the greater Tokyo area, including the vibrant blooms of flowers.  While all flowers are coveted, nurtured, and meticulously cared for in Japan, none are more important to Japanese culture than the cherry blossom.  Known as sakura, the blooms paint the country in shades of white and pink throughout the spring.  Sakura’s significance in Japan can’t be overstated.  There are websites and news updates on the anticipated bloom dates.  Popular viewing spots are packed with crowds.  The start of school and corporate fiscal years are set to align with it.  Foods, fabrics, artwork and poetry are saturated with sakura.  There are parties and festivals dedicated to viewing the short-lived sakura.  The blossoms are gorgeous, particularly in number, yet fall quickly.  To the Japanese, sakura represents the impermanence of life – we must savor the beauty and live life to the fullest before the wind blows and the petals fall.

Last year, I experienced my first hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, in Japan.  While there are plenty of places where cherry trees grow in the US including my home state, I don’t think I’d ever seen a cherry blossom before.  We went out early in the season to some of the popular hanami spots, and while we saw a few pretty trees it was only a glimpse of the impressive display that was to come.  Once in full bloom, areas densely populated with the cherry trees were nothing short of spectacular.  For less than two weeks, neighborhoods, parks, and canals were transformed into something magical.

Sakura has made a lasting impression on me.  As I watch the petals from this season’s blooms fall, I reflect on what I’ve learned from Japanese sakura.

Life is short.  We must enjoy every day and take advantage of the opportunities presented to us.  Too often we rush through life from one obligation to the next, never really noticing what is passing us by.

There is beauty hiding in plain sight.  Sometimes you won’t see it unless you put in the effort to find it.

Everyone has time to stop and look.  We are plagued by the idea that we must always be busy, but we own our own time.  In sakura season, it isn’t uncommon to see a businessman hurrying through his morning commute stop to enjoy a beautifully blooming tree.

Some things are simple or unremarkable on their own, but in quantity the significance increases exponentially.  Small everyday steps can result in significant change over time.

It’s with these thoughts in mind that I launch my website.  I meet so many amazing people who are waiting to pursue their dream of starting a business.  Life is short, and the opportunity is now.

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