Spring is in the air in Japan, marking an important time of the year…cherry blossom time! This is a very short lived period (around two weeks) that signifies the end of winter and dawning of new life, as represented by the symbolic blossoming of the Sukura or cherry tree. Since the start of this school term, I have taken to walking the scenic route through Kita Senri Park especially to observe the ever increasing budding of white and pink blossoms and the action they have generated amongst the locals. Each day blue tarpaulin sheets have been placed on the ground to reserve the choice spots underneath the blossom, in preparation for a picnic that would occur at some time during the day. The position is important because many believe that sitting under the blossom will bring them good luck. It is a time for family, friends and even work colleagues to come together to enjoy each other’s company and to view the blossom in the warming sun of a mild spring day. The atmosphere is often further enhanced by the consumption of food from the picnic basket or tasty offerings from the occasional barbeque. This is often washed down with significant quantities of Saki, which on the peak blooming weekend can make for a marathon drinking session. However, it should be much more tame this year with the government asking for restraint as a mark of respect to the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in the north. In contradiction, retail groups are calling for not too much restraint, as the season provides a much-needed annual boost for the Japanese economy through significant consumer spending. So it seems that despite the recent disaster the traditions of the cherry blossom season are set to continue. So as I jogged through the park at 8.00am on a Sunday morning, picnic groups were already staking claim to their little patch of blossom, as they would be doing throughout Japan. Hopefully their participation will bring collective luck to the country, which has suffered greatly over the past month and allow the Japanese to continue to celebrate their on going fascination with the changing seasons.