San Francisco and Northern California in general are beautiful places. Adjective-defying views of the ocean, of mountains, of the oceans and mountains practically sitting in each other’s laps, of a veritable orgy of Nature when you toss in the redwoods – it’s enough to make any nature-lover blush.
Or at least pull out a camera.
Yet as stunning and overwhelming as they are, there aren’t many cherry blossoms in San Francisco.
Blossoms here in Japan are a yen a dozen when the season is right, but for the moment, sitting on the precipice of the annual sakura, cherry blossom, explosion, I find myself able to enjoy my first cherry blossom experience without having to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of eastern Japan.
It’s easy to see why the Japanese go ga-ga for the little white flowers. Without exaggeration, they are beautiful. Perhaps their luster would be diminished if Tokyo wasn’t so often perceived as being devoid of natural pigmentation, perhaps not.
Or maybe if the summer wasn’t so intensely humid, as I’ve been told, then the hanami, cherry blossom viewing, season would be less important as a time when you can actually enjoy being outside.
Regardless, the suckers are nice to look at. Part of the problem with living in an area that has seasons is that winter is usually dark, dreary, boring and cold, unless you’ve got 15 feet of snow, in which case it’s white and cold. The sakura and their pinker, seasonally earlier cousins, the plum blossoms, really are good markers of the end of winter. (This is your cue to check out the plum blossom additions to the Hiroo gallery.)
It’s kind of like the difference between a kimono and a Brazilian bikini: sure, the kimono is beautiful, and no, the Brazilian bikini just isn’t subtle or elegant no matter how you want to look at it, but after months of kimonos, bikinis are quite a change for the better.