In another of what seems to be a series of unbelievable bits of good timing we have encountered in our travels, we hit Japan right at the peak of the cherry blossoms blooming.
At our first stop, Nagasaki, we were enthralled by the flowering trees all around The Atomic Bomb Museum.
They helped add a quiet touch to the somber site advocating peace near the epicenter of the atomic bomb blast that devastated the city in 1945.
The buds also thrive in the nearby park that marks ground zero.
The trees are a real tribute to recovery since scientists predicted that radioactive fallout wouldn’t allow plants to grow for seventy-five years.
We encountered an unexpected edible flower in the park, when a lady selling rose water ice formed a perfect bloom atop a cone for us.
She performed this artistic task in a matter of seconds.
WATCH: A work of art in seconds!
Known as sakura, the blooming trees have deep roots in Japanese culture.
They do not produce fruit, which when we thought about it is most likely a good thing because if each of the blooms became a cherry… well that’s a lot of cherries!
Instead, the trees have been cultivated for their flowers and are said to symbolize clouds or, because of the fact that the blooms only last about a week, mortality.
This brevity has associated the blossoms with the concept of mono no aware, literally translated as “the pathos of things,” a Japanese term for the awareness of the transience of life.
On a lighter note, the Japanese people have embraced Hanami, the ancient tradition of picnicking under a blooming sakura tree.
The custom began over a thousand years ago with royalty, but has been adopted by everyone.
Over the centuries the cherry blossoms have become so iconic to the Japanese that they even used to plant the trees on conquered territories to show their authority over the new land.
On our arrival in Osaka, good fortune struck again when we discovered that our hotel was right across from The Expo Park. Built for the Japan World Exhibition of 1970, the park just happens to be listed as one of the top 100 places for viewing cherry blossoms in Japan.
The focal point of the park is the Tower of the Sun, by famous Japanese sculptor Okamoto Taro.
The crazy looking bird statue looms over two hundred feet above the park and has three faces.
Shockingly, the top face is not called “Satellite Dish Bird Face” as we were calling it. It is actually meant to represent the Sun of the Future, with the other face on the front representing the Sun of the Present, and on the back of the tower is the Sun of the Past.
But as famous as the tower is, it was definitely playing second fiddle to the flowers.
At least for this week while the sakura were at their peak.
Thousands of folks were flooding into the park and we didn’t see a single one of them take a photo of old satellite dish face.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
Check out all of our adventures in Japan!
YOUR TURN: Aren’t the cherry blossoms stunning? Were you as blown away by their history as we were?