Hanami in a Time of Sorrow



Cherry blossom viewing is the singular cultural event in Japan.  As if the Fourth of July were combined with Chinese new year and Mardi Gras and celebrated with a suspension of open-container laws in any convenient urban park.

This is why the mayor of Tokyo, Japan's own Pat Robertson:  Shintaro Ishihara's call for a cancellation of hanami this year to show respect for the lost in March 11th Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami is so wrong-headed.  The Sake brewers of Tokyo, hit hard like all sectors of the national economy, are calling for the Japanese to go ahead with their plans, despite the somber mood in the wake of this immeasurable tragedy.  Signs have been posted in Tokyo parks politely requesting that people not engage in cherry-blossom viewing parties.
The people of PhiladelphiaWashington, DCNew Haven, CTSan FranciscoBrooklynProvidenceVirginia Beach, VAVancouver, BC;  Newark, NJ; and San Diego have cast their lot with the brewers and in many cases, have turned their events into opportunities to raise money for the on-going relief effort.
Why Ishihara and the city of Tokyo couldn't do the same is a  mystery.  
The ceremony itself is a celebration of the end of winter.  It is a call to the community to come out of hibernation and experience the annual rebirth that comes with the changing of the seasons.  No stronger message could be sent to those who are only just trying to put their lives back together.  The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami could, ironically, be a stimulus--a shock to the system--to turn around Japan's now decades-long economic malaise.
The following 10 photos are proof of the deep love for japan that could be found in Fairmount Park this past Sunday.  May they be a source of inspiration for all those touched by the disaster of march 11th.
Kosuplay-zoku are now common in most cities in America:

Two extended familes from indonesia:

A group of young nisei:

The owners and staff of Maido, a local Japanese grocery, located in Narberth, PA, and an annual supporter of Sakura Sunday:

A group of students from Malaysia:

A group of ordinary Americans:

And finally, Joe Hubris himself, along with a group of his friends, some from Philly, some from Iran, and some from points in between:

The message may have not been written by them, but it was no less embraced by each group of people who held up the simple message of hope for the people of Japan."Good luck to all."

May the political leaders of Tokyo heed it well.

Comments to Joe Hubris.