The cherry blossom is considered to be Japan’s unofficial national flower. If you go to Japan in spring, you will be astonished by the breath-taking views of cherry blossoms. The blooming of the cherry trees is so important in Japan that radio and television stations often give daily reports on local trees. While the flowers are beautiful, people also enjoy Hanami – a party under the cherry blossoms – both at night and during the day. They bring mats to sit on and have picnics. Friends and family get together, sing songs, share poetry, and play games.
Cherry blossoms are also a symbol of the changing of the seasons. The seasons are a popular subject for Japanese art, so art with cherry blossoms is very common. One unique form of Japanese art is the byobu. Byobu are folding screens made of several wooden panels covered with paper and joined along the edges, and then decorated. Byobu are not only art pieces—they’re also used as furniture, doors, stage backgrounds, and more. You can see byobu at art museums around the world and in temples in Japan.
In the Japanese House this month, you are invited to talk about spring traditions, learn about the Japanese spring tradition of Hanami (flower-viewing) and Sakura (cherry blossoms) and create your own Byobu paper screen.
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