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Japan's cherry blossom viewing parties – the history of chasing the fleeting beauty of sakura

By Nozomi Uematsu, Lecturer in Japanese Studies (Japanese and Comparative Literature), University of Sheffield
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As a lecturer in Japanese studies, the first questions I ask my students is: “What sort of images come to mind when you think of Japan?” The answers usually include advanced technologies, red shrine gates, anime and great food – such as sushi, ramen and so on. They also often say a landscape awash in a gentle pink with sakura cherry blossom.

Each spring, cherry blossoms grace Japan with colour for a brief and beautiful moment. Such is the fleeting nature of this eagerly anticipated yearly phenomenon that most Japanese news channels cover the flowering. The Japan Meteorological Agency…

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