Have you ever seen it with your own eyes ? The blossom season of the Sakura in April is a unique phenomenon, symbolizing a fresh start. It is around the same time that schools begin traditionally in Japan, as opposed to September in western countries.
Now, let me bring you on a small trip to Japan in spring …
The sun rises as early as 4.00 or 5.00 am during spring and summer. But that’s still too early. All you can see in the streets are elderly people doing their morning routine or some night workers who just finished their shift. The streets are silent, most businesses aren’t open yet. You are still in your apartment, sleeping soundly.
As your alarm rings at 7.00, you finally wake up to your small apartment where everything feels narrow and small, like a small cabin on a tree. It is the first day of a new semester, so you carefully prepare your pack for the day. Once all the preparations are ready, you notice something special, something that wasn’t there last night. Near your balcony, there it is, your little bonsai tree of a Sakura. It has begun to blossom.
But something more grandiose is waiting for you, just outside the building. One step outside makes it very clear. What were just ordinary trees that you passed by for months without ever paying attention to, have now become Sakura trees in full bloom. The leafy green of tree-tops has exploded into a storm of light pink. You find yourself filled with a surprising amount of enthusiasm, so it is time to take some pictures!
One petal, two petals, three petals. They are impossible to count. Falling like rain drops, the petals of Sakura trees fill the neighborhood, like the setting of a fantasy film. This sea of pink has inspired the rest of Japan as well. From the symbols on your VISA, to the mascots of the Tokyo Olympics, cherry blossoms are everywhere, and you think that this a moment you’ve been waiting for for a long time. The air feels fresh, the cool breeze comfortable on your skin. The ambient temperature is not higher than 18 degrees celsius, perfect for a walk in a park. But first, you must go to university. Your classmates await!
Walking to the train station, it doesn’t take much longer than 10 minutes for the next one to arrive. Having checked that it is the right one, you step inside and notice something different on the train as well.
Until now, trains were always filled with advertisements. Sometimes drawn in a manga style, sometimes with funny looking actors on them. But today, every single panel has been changed to pictures of Sakura blossoms, creating a brand new atmosphere in the train.
Sakura blossom is not only the start of the spring season, but more than that, it feels like a month long holiday. As you look outside from the windows of the trains, more than half of the houses you pass by have a Sakura tree in their yard. After a few dozen minutes, you’ve reached your destination, and it is time for one last small walk.
It is now almost 8.00 am, class starts in half an hour, so you’ve got some time left for a coffee. What better place to grab one than your university’s local coffee shop? On your way, you notice some changes in the local convenience stores too: brand new Sakura-themed products are now available. Cookies, chips, soft drinks and coffee of all kinds, all with Sakura flavor and themed packaging. Everything seems to have its Sakura version variant, including coffee. But what does Sakura taste like? Curiosity drives you to try something new today.
So here you have it, Sakura flavored coffee. Sweet, smooth and tasting quite like vanilla, but with a hint of something different. The Sakura flower shaped candies on top of it are absolutely delicious, while the coffee itself tastes like a cross between cappuccino and strawberry milk. Perhaps that’s how it’s made? Yet, it is something absolutely new, like so many other products you came across in the shops on your way to school. In the school yard flooding with Sakura petals, you see some new faces and some familiar ones.
Finally, it is time for you to go to class, to greet your new classmates and teachers and start your first day in this brand new season. Today, you’ve only tried the new coffee, but the Sakura season is only starting. What will you try tomorrow?