In Japan, April is really the beginning of the year. Most importantly, it is the beginning of the new school year and also when work starts for new graduates. Cherry blossoms are in bloom in many locales and there is a feeling of both renewal and poignancy.
Or at least that is what it is supposed to be about. It’s also a season of nerves over new beginnings and even disappointment when cherry blossoms are too early, too late—or are blown from the trees by a violent storm and trod upon as everyone runs for cover.
Traditionally, you should eat some sakura mochi, which is unexpectedly salty. Yes, salty.
Less traditionally, you could walk into a conbini such as 7-11 or Fujimart and choose from a wide array of chocolate or other products celebrating the cherry blossom. I advise that you skip this, but I’m just a grouchy granny stuck in post-war Showa, which I think was a glorious time in Japan.
- Conbini – コンビニ convenience store such as 7-11
- Mochi – おもち sorry, but what planet are you living on if you don’t know what this is?! Google it. (But if you can read Japanese, notice I put the honorific “o” on it when I typed the Japanese because I couldn’t help myself.)
- Sakura – さくら cherry blossom or tree
- Sakura mochi – さくらもち a Japanese sweet which is pink, contains red bean paste wrapped in sweet glutinous rice and then further wrapped in a salted sakura leaf.
- Showa – 昭和 the period of Japan that waxes oh so nostalgic for those of us who lived it. It represents the reign of Emperor Hirohito and goes from 1926-1989. Of course most people are nostalgic about the last forty years of it, though those war years are not to be forgotten.