Love Blossoms…

Well, spring is in the air and against all the odds (somehow surviving The Cold War), I have fallen in love. Yes, that’s right…love. But before you get too excited, the revelations of The L Word still ring true…I’ve not fallen in love with a man, but rather with the beauty of the Japanese sakura (cherry blossoms).

Last week was that one glorious week in the year when the sakura come out to play and bestow their beauty on us all. I was intoxicated…drunk on the perfection of their pale pink petals and caught up in a whirlwind love affair. It was all so heady…but now with every petal being torn from their branches, I feel my heart being ripped apart too. I have been chewed up and spat out by these lovely creatures…now left to nurse my bruised heart.

I’m not the only one to become a casualty of these fair maidens either.  Facebook tells me with pictures and status updates that others have been seduced by the sakura’s cunning ways too. All of us were swept up in the magic of the sakura…only to find ourselves now left broken pining for them. They are cruel mistresses, so what is it about the sakura that has us all under their spell? Why are we powerless to resist their charm? Why is it that when the sakura are in bloom, Love Blossoms?

Playing hard to get…

Clearly devout followers of The Rules, the sakura know how to play hard to get and they play the game well. In fact, they are so skilled at it, that for 51 weeks in every year they allude us, hiding away, teasing us into a frenzy while we wait impatiently for their arrival.

We are tortured, left hanging with unmirrored affection, sifting through mixed signals…wondering when they will grace us with their presence. Then when they finally arrive, they allow us a mere glimpse of their beauty before disappearing again, leaving us only with the memories…

But despite the sakura playing hard to get, we fall prey to their games anyway. So why do we allow these beauties to taunt us and meddle with our hearts? With all this playing hard to get, are we hooked on the thrill of the chase?

Catch me if you can…

Certainly, Japanese people are known for their appreciation of the rare…would you like some borderline endangered sea giant for lunch? Sure, sounds good. Oh, would you mind picking me up one of those $100 square watermelons when you pop to the grocery store later? Yeah, no problem. Want to try some fish that if filleted incorrectly might kill you or leave you paralyzed for life? Hell yes!

With this kind of cultural psyche, it’s no surprise that the sakura enjoy so much attention from the Japanese population, year in, year out. As the sakura blooms sweep their way across the country from south west to north east between late March and mid May, the entire country becomes captivated with the chase. Have you seen the sakura yet? When is the sakura blooming here? Are you going to see the sakura?

Enjoying the kind of fame Johnny Depp does, the sakura are the talk of Japan, their name on everyone’s lips as they tour the country. Spring brings with it the chase, as we search for them in every town, hoping to catch a sighting of these ladies in full bloom. When the sakura finally do make a public appearance and the chase stops momentarily, we are truly defenseless against them. When they arrive, we succumb to their beauty and become enslaved during their brief time with us.

The dating game…

When the sakura come to bloom, all their sins are forgotten and the pain and heartache everyone suffered over the last 51 weeks of absence quickly disappears. Life is paused and everyone prioritises seeing these visions at the height of their loveliness. The dating game begins…

Knowing that time is precious and we only have a short while to enjoy the company of the sakura, one’s calendar is suddenly full with a frenzy of events and meetings with these fair maidens. After all that chasing, when they are within in grasp, one has to make the most of it. Life becomes a string of long romantic walks, picnics in the park and night time rendezvous under lantern light.

But don’t be fooled…these devilish minxes get around…never seeing anyone exclusively and never committing to anyone in particular. The sakura will always have you guessing…wondering if today is the last time you might see them for another year…

Love hurts…

Just as everyone is enjoying the wondrous attention of the sakura, these charming goddesses leave us. Every year we know it will happen, every year hoping it will last a little longer…wanting to delay the inevitable.

We try to hold on to the memory of the sakura, long after they’ve been whisked away with the wind…and Japan provides ample substitutions all year round. You can try and fill the void of the absent sakura with all kinds of pseudo replacements…sakura motif yukatas, prints and ceramics, or cute sakura print stationery and stickers…all in the name of trying to retain some semblance of the real thing.

But these doppelgangers can never truly replace the original experience of dating the sakura for that one special week in spring each year. It is an experience that just cannot be replicated with fake impostors. So after all the hype, the chase and finally capturing our prize…the pain when they leave is unbearable, but inevitable. But as much as love hurts, it could be worse…

Comfort eating after the loss of the sakura might seem like a good idea. You could indulge sakura flavoured icecream or KitKat delights to try and console yourself with the loss of the real sakura for the 51 weeks of the year they aren’t in your life. But be cautious…these cruel maidens will have the last laugh…the blossoms and leaves of the sakura actually contain poison…and anything made from them (and eaten in large quantities) can be lethal.

So remember, love may blossom…but it hurts too…

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