I often enjoy listening to the sounds of Japanese on NHK radio through my computer. I don't understand most of it, but I can decipher the weather report, and sometimes piece together information about the daily news if I've already heard it in English. If it's a cooking show that's a big bonus because as a foreigner in Japan, some of the most early-learned and oft-spoken words concern food. It's delicious.
But I have also noticed on the radio and on TV when I've seen it in hotels recently, that along with the weather report, there is a Sakura report. Where are the blooms the most beautiful, in what places have they reached their peak, and when are they expected to do so. We were warned of potential traffic on the return journey from our tour due to the report that the trees in the area were very beautiful and worthy of many visitors.
People in Japan ask if there is Sakura in America, if I have seen the blossoms before. And the answer is yes. Spring is beautiful anywhere in the world, and there are blossoming trees in the states. But we don't have reports on their beauty. We don't have a ritual of going to view the blossoms merely for the sake of viewing them. The trees bloom and we exhale the breath we have been holding all winter. Perhaps we go individually. Perhaps we decide that one year we are going to go for a walk. But to make it an annual event is something new to me since coming to Japan. Perhaps knowing that it is there makes the winter seem a little different. Don't worry, spring will come as it does every year, and the flowers will return as always.