I always enjoy this time of year. The weather finally starts to warm up and there’s much to look forward to.
Recently I saw on NHK news (via cable TV) that plum blossoms, or ume (梅), have started blooming in places such as Mito and other places in eastern Japan:
Plum blossoms bloom a month or so before cherry blossoms, or sakura (桜), and plum blossom viewing isn’t quite as festive as cherry blossom viewing, but they are still popular in Japan because they are the first sign of spring. They’re also closely associated with famous Confucian poet-turned god of learning, Tenjin (a.k.a. Sugawara no Michizane). Indeed, you can see them post-bloom here when I visited Yushima Tenmangu in 2010:
But another reason why I am excited for Spring is because Hinamatsuri (ひな祭り), or Girls’ Day, is coming in 6 days (March 3rd). This is one of my favorite holidays in Japan because it’s fun for my daughter as much as it is for me. Every year, about 2-3 weeks before, we put our little doll set:
Our doll set only has 1 level, not 7, because we used to live in a very small home. More details about the doll set here. Anyway, every year on Girls’ Day, we spoil our little girl a bit, invite friends over and my wife makes an excellent chirashi dish of rice, egg, ikura fish eggs, etc.
Per tradition, I should put away the doll set as soon as possible, as it reflects how soon my daughter will get married in life. Putting the doll set away too late means that she might get married late in life.
Also, this month, on my other blog I’m devoting to the female poets in the Hyakunin Isshu anthology, including women such as Lady Murasaki, Lady Izumi (and her daughter), and Sei Shonagon.
Anyhow, with the plum blossoms and Girls’ Day, there’s much to look forward to in March!
P.S. To learn more about Hinamatsuri read Cocomino’s excellent blog post.