When the Sakura leaves, the Sakura leaves.
In other words, as the Sakura (that is, the cherry flower) leaves the tree and falls off, the Sakura (that is, the cherry tree) begins sprouting its leaves also. With some exceptions, this may be said of the millions of cherry trees that annually overshadow the Japanese landscape with their pink-white blooms, and to which the term hanami (literally, flower viewing) is often attributed to.
That spring in Japan is just about the Sakura is not quite true, though. Spring here is an orchestra of colors performed by almost every plant life that emerges from its winter slumber. So, whether you overestimated your Sakura hanami visit or are intentionally staying longer, there’s plenty more blooms to enjoy to satiate the anthophile in all of us.
And, yes, in Japan, Sakura loosely refers to the cherry tree as well as its beloved flower.
Following the falling Sakura
Some Japanese would even say that the best Sakura experience is when the blooms begin their exit. An event they specifically call hanafubuki, people savor the “cherry-blossom snow” by passing time under these trees which are spread out all over the country.
As the focus shifts from the now-greening cherry trees to the fragile petals fluttering towards the ground, the earth welcomes the departing pale-pink flakes with vibrant colors from the now-flourishing grassland. Sprouts of white, yellow, peach, orange, blue, purple, red (as I have yet to learn the names of many of them) are in abundance, with some even daring to venture out on cemented pathways, as if demanding the traveler to stop and pay homage.
Iva’s favorite is the dandelion, which she would carefully hunt in the backyard everyday. She enjoys sending a full seed ball flying in one massive blow, and then she chases after them and recapture as many flying seeds as possible.
Aside from the small and low-lying vegetation, there also so many notable shrubs and trees joining the flower festival.
Among the more notable are the azaleas, which are usually used as hedges that border homes and line the streets and boulevards. Commonly seen in green most of the year, they become fences and balls of pink, red, and white in spring, depending on their trimming.
Peonies are also big in Japan, literally, as these flowers can grow as big as one’s head. Gardens that cultivate peonies often hold festivals to showcase these gigantic flowers.
When in Japan during the springtime, watch out also for trellises on homes, gardens and parks. Most likely, they are not vines of grapes but wisterias. A flowering wisteria is like purple to pink rain and is hard to miss because its sweet distinctive scent will seek you out when you fail to see its sobering vines.
More tree spectacles
While the pink-white Yoshino Sakura is the primary feature of cherry blossom festivals, it’s good to know that there are still so many cherry varieties that bloom after them, effectively extending further the cherry blossom experience. Around this time other eye-catching flowering trees also join in, such as other stone fruit varieties such as peaches and nectarines, apples, and dogwoods that usually come in white, pink, or peach hues.
Visiting the local florists and gardeners
Spring is also the time when people resume their gardening. And as Japanese houses generally have low to no fences, the flowers and plants they nurture are quite an eyeful as well. A visit to the local flower shop or gardening section of the local superstore is likewise an enriching experience, especially for those who are looking into gardening as a hobby, are merely wandering about plant names, or are simply wanting to be wowed or bewildered by the abundance of plant varieties.