If an appreciation of cherry blossoms is a condition of citizenship I guess I'll never become Japanese... Are they beautiful? Yes. But so are the (brave, first blooming) apricot blossoms, the buzzing-with-bees fluffy clouds of apple blossom and the huge bright pink peach flowers.
What makes me the cherry blossom grinch is the effect they have on the general population.
For one week a year everyone goes cherry blossom mad. I drive past Matsumoto Castle every day on my way to work. For 51 weeks a year this is no problem and honestly I think it's kind of cool. The castle is big and impressive and a great silhouette against the skyline.
For 1 week a year though it's hell. Matsumoto Castle is a Famous Cherry Blossom Viewing Spot. Apparently, compared with looking at common garden variety (ha ha) cherry blossoms, looking at Famous Cherry Blossom Viewing Spot cherry blossoms is a far superior cherry blossom experience. And so busloads of tourists descend on the castle morning, noon and night. Yup, even night. They open the castle grounds for a special evening cherry-blossoms-by-superbright-uplights festival. It's a beautiful sight, if a bit blinding. It's great to see the castle at night. It's free. I myself go to the festival each year. I have no problems with the festival.
The people who come to see the cherry blossoms, though? Agghhhh! It's a narrow road. Please watch the traffic. Please do not drive along looking at the cherry blossoms. There are carparks all along the road. Park and wander to your heart's content. Please do not drive along at 10 km/h trying the driveby cherry blossom viewing experience. It really does nothing to enamour you with your fellow road users. It's a busy road (even without the cherry blossom season induced idiot drivers) so please don't run across the road at random places. There're two crossings within 100m for goodness sake. And you're about to walk around a huge park so saving 30 steps jaywalking really doesn't make sense. And to the family who pushed wheelchair-bound grandpa out in front of them to get the traffic to stop. Really? I hope the old guy leaves you out of his will!
In general it would just be nice if everyone would spare a thought for the commuters and let's make sure the cherry blossoms are the only ones with fleeting lives this Spring!
And how was our cherry blossom viewing experience you ask?
We played hide and seek in the weeping cherry blossom trees.
We ate special cherry blossom dumplings. (Complete rort. Can't see how they're any different from regular ones but still...)
Climbed an ancient wisteria.
And played slides on a park bench in the temporary bike park (really, a lot of people come out for this) again and again and again. M and A are not really all that interested in the cherry blossoms until they start falling and can be chased and scooped up and thrown around. Just about the time the rest of Japan is losing interest in it all and lamenting the season is over we get excited about the blossoms. Makes for very peaceful and divinely un-crowded cherry blossom viewing!