Reuters reports that from October 18th to October 29th 2010 nearly 200 UN envoys are meeting in Nagoya, Japan to set new goals to preserve nature. The goals include targets to “fight rising animal and plant extinction”. The article reports that the talks are being clouded by some countries refusing to sign agreements. These goals can make significant impact on preservation; I hope to see some progress as a result. (Check out the article: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69L1JH20101022) It’s interesting that these meetings are taking place in Japan, a country renown for its scenic beauty and its incorporation of nature in its culture and religions. An aspect of Japan that I’m longing to see one day is the famous blooming of the cherry blossoms.
Cherry blossoms, or Sekura, have deep roots in Japanese history and culture. Cherry blossoms are delicate and extremely beautiful pink and white flowers. They bloom each spring with a burst of color but the blossoms only last for a few days. Those few days of beauty are celebrated with parties and festivals all over Japan.
Historically, the blossoms forecasted how the crops would fare for the upcoming year. Nowadays, the modern Japanese throw viewing parties during the few days of bloom. These viewing parties, or Hanami, consist of gatherings of friends and picnics under the trees to enjoy the beautiful view and the springtime. Hanami preparations include a careful watch on the weather since the blossoms disappear so quickly. From January to June, Japanese media often includes weather updates on the blossoms so everyone can expect their arrival.
Besides small gatherings of friends, there are also large festivals to attend throughout the country. One of the biggest blossom festivals takes place annually in Okinawa, Japan. Besides gazing at the trees, this festival includes tradition Japanese music, food, dance, kimono shows, parades, and more. Visitors can walk down a path of over 700 stone steps through a sea of cherry blossoms. This celebration, with all its serenity and eye catching colors, is distinct to Japanese culture. Japan is uniquely dedicated to nature and I hope that it being the host of these UN meetings will sway countries to promote the preservation of plants and animals, a necessity, in my view, for this changing world.
Check out these links on Sekura festivals: