Spring. 「春(はる)」 haru

I am going to write about seasons in Japan from today.  Most areas in Japan have distinctive four seasons.  Personally, I believe that there are five, though.

The four seasons are spring, summer, fall, and winter.  Like other regions in the world, northern parts in Japan tend to have cooler summer and colder winter while southern parts have hotter summer and milder winter.  That is because Japan is long from north to south. 
Japan has enjoyed the four seasons for over 1000 years; we can know that from many writings and poems talking about the seasons.
Today I focus on spring because I think the season is special to Japanese people.
In winter time, people wait for spring. The Japanese has made many poems about longing for beauty of spring.  In spring, many flowers started to bloom.  Especially, people are waiting for pink color of Sakura (=cherry blossoms). 

Sakura is a symbol of the beginning of spring and has a magic that makes Japanese people crazy for it. It blooms only for a week, so the beauty doesn’t last long.  But, since the length of Japan, sakura trees started to have flowers in southern parts first, then, move up to north gradually and smoothly.
In other words, sakura paints the color of scenery from south to north, and people feel full of joy with a new painting around them.
Cherry trees change their appearance through the year; after falling flowers, dark green leaves starts to grow and thrive with sunshine in summer time.  In fall, those leaves change their color to red and yellow, and at the beginning of winter (December), they fall, and trees become naked.
In some northern areas, sakura trees are covered with a thin layer of snow.  They look like they will not come back to life. 
However, a new life cycle starts in trees even in winter.  While people are waiting for spring, they are prepared for the season silently. 
Sometime in March, we can see their little green balls as the size of little blueberries.  Yes, they are flower buds.
In March, winter is nearing an end, and people’s feelings for spring is becoming bigger and bigger. With the expectation, buds are also waiting for a moment to open.
In April, some trees in southern parts finally show their pink color a little bit.  Then, other trees follow.  On one day in spring, those trees enjoy showing their cheerful colors to people, and the wave of the pink goes toward north.
That is a re-born cycle of sakura trees along with changing seasons, and people enjoy that.  They love scenery in all seasons, but spring is special to Japanese people.
That is because April is a beginning of a year in Japan. 
All school starts at the beginning of April, and 6-year-old boys and girls have to walk to school with their senior students by themselves.  That is usually their first trip without their parents.
With the joyous feelings of spring, many people step into new things.  I still can remember all my school entrance ceremonies were always with cherry flowers in full bloom.  Thus, sakura has been always combined with my excitement.
Many freshmen leave their parents’ houses for college, and new graduates join companies on April 1.  In April, we can see many people’s faces with mixed feelings of expectation and anxiety. But they are ready for new challenges. 
In Japan, it is spring that many people change their lifestyles as well as a new flower cycle.  The beautiful season brings us anticipation for future.  Sakura and people’s expectation are intertwined under the sunshine in spring.
Whenever I see sakura in spring, I always feel that I am so lucky to be born in this country.
Do you feel how much people in Japan are waiting for spring and sakura blossom?
Today, you will learn the word: [春:はる] “ha-ru”.  It is spring in Japanese.  To pronounce Japanese “r” sound, your tongue has to touch the ceiling but not teeth.  Once you do that, release it quickly.  It is like a sound in the middle of English “r” and “l” pronunciation.
Thanks for reading!

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