Arrr, Those Bloomin’ Cherry Blossoms!

Last year, my husband and I trekked to Washington, DC for one purpose – enjoy the sight, smell, and touch of cherry blossoms. It was not as big a deal for him as he grew up there but for me, a Chicago native, it has been an annual bucket list desire for years. I have seen many photos of the trees lining the Tidal Basin and now it was my turn to see them in person. The timing seemed perfect since it was the Centennial celebration of the surviving trees, a gift from the Japanese government. Good karma was on our side.

The timing of cherry blossoms blooming in the springtime is always a function of weather. These white/pink flowers are in bloom only about seven days, then disappear until their return the following spring. Colder winters delay their blooming while warmer winters bring premature blossoms. We thought we had it timed pretty well but when we got to DC, learned we missed them by a couple days. Mild winter weather brought them out early. It was a nice trip otherwise, though I was sad to have missed the blossoms.

We decided to try again this year. However, this time it was a pilgrimage to the home of cherry blossoms, Japan. The custom of picnicking under blooming cherry blossom trees dates back 1400 years, with hanami festivals celebrating their blooming beginning 400 years before that! We were excited at the prospect of seeing them in places like Kyoto, Yokohama, and Tokyo. Always at the mercy of the weather, we monitored forecasts daily to see if our timing was better.

Experiencing a déjà vu all over again, this year’s winter in Japan was nearly identical to last year – somewhat mild, meaning we might be too late. We finally got to Japan and….

Arrr! Missed them again. Sure enough, the tepid winter brought out the blossoms early. Here are the scant remains of the blossoms:

close-up of a pink flower on a tree branch

a rock in a stream

We might have had a chance to see them in later-blooming cities like Aomori or Sapporo but did not have the time to get up there. Batting zero for cherry blossom sightings, I am fighting that Groundhog Day movie feeling but never the quitter, I will resume my quest next year to see those beautiful cherry blossoms.

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