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Cherry Blossom Front
Cherry Blossom Front
The cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan. In a band of warmer weather moving south to north and beginning in late February in Okinawa, the cherry blossom front usually reaches Hokkaido in June whilst centering the nation's interest during this season on the approach of their own cherry blossom season. While the cherry tree and buds are indeed initially modest in appearance, when in full bloom the blossoms are truly splendid and as gorgeous as gorgeous can be. Their zenith lasts for but a few days however, and the resulting shedding of the petals can look like a pink tinged snowstorm. Associated very closely with human mortality, the Japanese have long identified the ephemeral life of the flowers with the tragically short lifespan of so many famous and not so famous Japanese and by extension one finds in Japan the graceful acceptance of falling while in one's prime. Dedicated viewers of the cherry blossom front travel south to north with the front, at times boasting to others how many times and to where they have gone on cherry blossom tours that particular year.
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Yoshinoyama Mountainous Area / A Panoramic scroll of beautiful cherry blossoms
This is without doubt the most famous cherry blossom viewing site in Japan. 30,000 cherry trees cover Mt. Yoshinoyama, its shrines, temples and the ancient castle town in a thick layer of fragrant blooms although there is a time lag between the opening of the tree's buds depending on the altitude they are located at on the mountainside. However, this effect allows visitors a month to enjoy the sight.
Mount Fuji and Cherry Blossoms
Cherry trees can be found everywhere in Japan but especially so around castle ruins, the banks of rivers and lakes and in parks and school yards. Try and find your own, favorite cherry blossom viewing spot.
Cherry Viewing at Ueno Park
During the cherry blossom season, the 620,000 sq. meters of Ueno Park are crammed daily by around a million people enjoying their stroll beneath the pink canopy of cherry blossoms. The sight of countless office workers, families and groups of friends savoring the spring evening's ambience under the blossoms is quite a spectacle.
Kakunodate and Cherry Blossoms
Old warlord mansions line both sides of Kakunodate street for a distance of some 500 meters and cherry blossoms can be spotted from just outside the surrounding walls of these mansions, giving off an image that the flowers are attempting to recount the lives of the once resident samurai during the now long past Edo period.
Hirosaki Castle and its Cherry Blossoms
Hirosaki Castle has a history stretching back 400 years and is considered one of the nation's best places for cherry blossom viewing with its 5000 cherry trees surrounding the remains of the castle. A Cherry Blossom Festival is held from the end of April to the beginning of May each year.
Yoshinoyama Mountainous Area / A Panoramic scroll of beautiful cherry blossoms
Mount Fuji and Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Viewing at Ueno Park
Kakunodate and Cherry Blossoms
Hirosaki Castle and its Cherry Blossoms
Dolls Festival
Koinobori Koinobori: Around May 5, households with boys in their midst hoist koi-nobori, or carp streamers made of cloth, on tall poles erected in the yard or on their balconies. The streamers flap boldly in the May wind and parents pray that their sons will grow up healthy and strong.
Koinobori in Tsuetate Hot Springs: Countless thousands of carp streamers swimmingagainst the wind over the Tsuetate Spa resort has become a sight famous in its own right at this time of year.
HinamatsuriDolls Festival: Households with young daughters set up tiered platforms to display traditional hina dolls in mid February in order to pray for the sound growth of their daughters. The dolls, dressed in Heian era costumes are put away at the end of March 3rd, the day of the festival.
Koinobori in Tsuetate Hot Springs
KabukiKabuki originated as an all-female dance troupe during the 17th century and was first performed by those who danced and acted out skits at shrines as a tribute to the deities. The government at the time, however, feared that female performers may endanger public order and took the step of banning female performers in 1629, thereby allowing only males to dance. To this day, Kabuki is performed exclusively by men.
SumoVisiting the Sumo Stable: Sumo wrestlers must belong to one of over 50 "stables," and train under the watchful eye of their sumo masters and the stable's more senior wrestlers. Morning training is often open to public viewing but should be confirmed in advance by telephone.
Kokugikan: The Ryogoku Kokugikan, or the Arena of the National Sport, is a modern, multi-purpose hall with a capacity of 11,098. Thrice annually it serves as the site of sumo tournaments and is also used for other sports and functions year round.
The Rules of the Game: The object is to force the opponent out of the dohyo or 'ring' or to make any part of his body except the soles of his feet touch the surface of the inside of the dohyo. At present over 80 methods of winning are recognised with push outs and certain throws among the most common.
The history of Sumo: The origin of sumo dates back to the times when men wrestled to please the deities. To this day the dohyo, or the sumo ring, is covered with a roof that is similar to the roof of a shrine. Other customs carried over from ancient times include the sprinkling of salt to purify the ring before a match and the carrying of a short dagger by the referee to symbolize his dedication to performing without erring with the result of an error being his willingness to commit suicide should he make the wrong call - a tradition no longer carried out.
The Six Annual Hon-basho (tournaments): There are three sumo tournaments (hon-basho) held annually in Tokyo (January, May, September), one in Osaka (March), one in Nagoya (July) and one in Fukuoka (November). Each basho lasts for 15 days and in recent years sumo has become more and more international with many non-Japanese wrestlers now climbing the sumo ladder to success in their bid to reach the sport's highest rank of Yokozuna or Grand Champion.
Sumo Sumo
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