There is something about cherry blossoms ("sakura") that resonates deeply with the Japanese soul.
Last year I was in Portland, Oregon and even though there were quite a few admirers of the cherry trees planted by the waterfront, to most of the locals, it was another beautiful spring day, nothing more, nothing less.
This year, I was back in my hometown of Tokyo, Japan during the bloom. The mood in the nation changes. News programs report on the bloom and massive crowds gather to go drinking under the trees. Temples host lantern-lit festivals. There even is a word for the act of going to see the blossoms: hanami. "Hana" means flower, and "mi" is the verb for to see.
(Portland, Oregon) March 2014
(Tokyo, Japan) April 2015