The most joyful word in Japan at this time of year is:
'Sakura' - cherry blossom!
Japanese weather forecasts begin tracking the 'sakura zensen' cherry blossom front from the end of January as it moves northwards up the Japanese islands, bringing a wave of pink and white. With it come flocks of Japanese out into public parks, gardens, and the countryside to picnic under the trees in 'hanami' (flower viewing) parties.
What has that got to do with Berlin?, you might be asking yourself. About 10,000 cherry trees-worth, actually!
Back in 1990, a program on the Japanese television network TV Asahi encouraged donations from its viewers towards sending gifts of cherry trees to the citizens of the newly re-unified Berlin, thereby sharing the hope and joy of the 'sakura'. About €1 million was raised, and as a result Berlin in Spring is a froth of cherry blossom, mostly along the former death-strip (Totestreifen) of the Berlin Wall.
My S-Bahn commute into work takes me beside the former border at Bornholmer Straße, where there is an avenue of these donated cherry trees; I look forward each year to see them start to bloom, and am uplifted that Spring is coming.
The cherry blossom is everywhere in Berlin because of this lovely gesture from the Japanese, but one of the best places to celebrate it is on the Berlin-Lichterfelde/Brandenburg border by Teltow-Sigridshorst. They have been holding a 'hanami' / Kirschenblütenfest / cherry blossom celebration there on the last Sunday in April since 2002; the avenue of cherry trees there is the longest in Berlin, and in 2012 was officially named TV-Asahi-Kirschblütenallee.
Here are a few more of my photos of 桜 taken over these past few weeks:
Finally, here is a traditional Japanese song to sing on your 'hanami' picnic under the cherry blossoms, 'sakura sakura':
|さくら さくら||sakura sakura||Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms||Sakura, sakura,|
|弥生の空は||Ya-yo-I-no so-ra-wa||The Spring sky||der Frühlingshimmel|
|見渡すかぎり||Mi-wa-ta-su ka-gi-ri||As far as you can see.||So weit das Auge reicht.|
|霞か雲か||Ka-su-mi-ka ku-mo-ka||Is it a mist? Is it a cloud?||Wie Nebel, wie Wolken.|
|匂いぞ出ずる||Ni-o-i-zo i-zu-ru||The fragrence comes out!||Der Duft und die Farben,|
|いざや いざや||I-za-ya , I-za-ya||Come now, come now||gehen wir, gehen wir|
|見にゆかん||Mi--ni-- Yu-ka-n||Let's go and see!||Uns am Anblick erfreuen|