Monday, April 11, 2011

Only in Japan: Cherry Blossoms and Ceremonies

Amidst the chaos, the seasons turn and the cherry blossoms bloom reminding the people that life continues on. It is the season of change in Japan. Many people move to new areas for their work in this time. Many children are entering school for the first time. Many students and adults are starting off a new season with a new job or a new year at school.

Japanese are a people of ceremonies. They have ceremonies all across life from the preschooler starting preschool (Nyuu-en-shiki) up till the end of life (Soshi-ki). Sometimes it is difficult to understand all the reasons for the rituals and ceremonies in Japan. Sometimes Japanese themselves don`t even know the reason why, they just know it has to be done.

In the beauty of the falling petals of Sakura(cherry-blossoms), people enter into a new stage. Perhaps the ceremonies are there as a reminder of each stage and to cherish every part of life, or to make a lot of money for retailers.

The atmosphere at this time is distinctly Japan, and it leaves an interesting impression on me. It makes me think of how different a world is the place I come from. But it also reminds meof the universal things I share in common with these people. Having lived here almost six years, I can say I share many things in common with them, especially as I watch my children grow and "enter the ceremony" and begin a new stage of life.

So I embrace a new time with my family this season, in hope for better days to come.

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