Date: 7-day festival held according to the region (March – May)
Description: Sadness is inevitably bound up with the experience of beauty, because nothing lasts. This buddhist-coloured thought about impermanence together with the Shinto communion with nature forms the celebration of fleeting beauty in the form of the pink and white cherry trees.
Huge crowds of Japanese people travel during spring time around the country to catch the blossoming trees, gather and meditate – thus creating a modern type of pilgrimages.
Among the favourite stations are Mount Yoshino on Honshu Island or the capital city of Kyoto. The religious practices other than tree-gazing are usually meditation, placing a paper around blooming bough to avoid ominous predictions or burning green leaves to attract the Kami (Japanese deities of the land and elements). Other less magical and more aesthetic habits include ceremonial dances or the popular gatherings in the parks with picnic lunches.
This last instance got so popular, that it began to spread to other countries in the West as well – for example in Montreal there are gatherings in botanical gardens with Japanese lunch boxes.
Source: ROY, Christian. Traditional festivals: a multicultural encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, .
Link: Japan guide article