Ohanami (お花見)

Photo taken by Tomomi Endo (April 2012)
Thanks for your never-ending support sensei!

I haven’t experienced “four seasons” (since The Philippines has only rainy and sunny days) and lately, since I’ve been surrounded by a lot of Japanese friends, co-workers and even Taku, I’ve seen the appreciation of the Japanese in the change of seasons that I find very admirable. I’ve received some emails from friends sending me photos of how beautiful the changes are and even when Taku went to a business trip in Japan last week, he sent me an email saying that he had seen “cherry blossoms.”

But my admiration to the Japanese traits and values was supported by the little fact that I’ve learned lately, that they even have the traditional celebration/party for flower viewing which is called Ohanami or less formally, Hanami (comes from the kanji for flower, hana and the kanji for “looking” or “to see,” mi which means exactly what it sounds like: looking at flowers). According to my friends, it takes place on no specific day which can be practiced any time during spring where they simply observe and appreciate the sophistication of spring – particularly sakura ume and momo blossoms (cherry, plum and peach, respectively). Japanese people do their good old parties under the picturesque cherry blossom trees with bento lunches and mats. They party with different groups- family and friends, and it usually involves a lot of sake.  I was amazed with the story that it is a job of the lowliest grunt in the office to go out early in the morning to the place where his bosses want to party later on that evening with a mat and stake out of a choice spot under the trees where he’ll sit all-day. How families try to teach the kids to appreciate spring is adorable also especially since cherry blossom don’t last that long.

Here’s the brief history of Ohanami by EastAsia Travel@Suite101:

Ohanami actually started as umemi, or plum blossom-viewing. That’s because back in the Nara period (710-784) – when flower-viewing is said to have first become a tradition – plum blossoms were gaining favor as symbols of culture and nobility. Ume trees had been introduced to Japan by envoys returning from China, who’d been enamoured with the Chinese spectacle of blossom observation and sought to impress Japanese nobles. By the Heian period (794-1185) ohanami had become a regular practice among the higher classes and was observed by eating and drinking outside. We also know from Lady Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji, a classic novel from the period that by then cherry blossoms had overtaken plum blossoms in terms popularity and become the primary flower associated with the ohanami tradition.
By the Edo period (1603-1867), the practice of finding a spot in the blossoming fields to enjoy sake and special bento had become a pastime for the common people.
Many plum blossom-themed poems appear in the Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest poetry anthology, and the fleeting beauty of both ume and sakura are recurring themes in classic Japanese literature. Along with singing, reading such poetry has become common practice in today’s ohanami celebrations.

                I like how Justhungry.com talked about the cherry blossoms and its leaves as food.

                I appreciate how Japanese people (especially my Japanese friends and colleague) appreciate little things and every natural process in our environment. I guess it talks a lot about how sophisticated and humble people they are.

It’s officially on my list of “30 Things Before 30” now; Cherry Blossoms are way too beautiful.

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Traveling to next level?

 

Have you ever heard of the song “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson? I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. My imagination flew to the future, did U-Turn, then, flashbacks. 
 
It’s my song (now in my possession. Haha). 
I grew up in a small town and when the rain would fall down, I just stare at the window. Dreaming of a could be and if I end up happy, I would pray. I’ll do what it takes til I touch the sky, make a wish, take a chance, make a change, and BREAKAWAY.
 
Since I was a child, I know I would like to travel the world and discover its wonders. But I think, before beginning the sally to world’s discovery, I must master my own little archipelago. So, for the past 24 years of my life, I’ve tried exploring it as much as I can. I didn’t care how should I get there, when it comes to travelling, I try to be spontaneous and open-minded. I believe that we will only see the best of the world if we don’t hinder or limit ourselves from what the world could lay at our feet.  I think I’m prepared to take this self-imposed benchmark of world discovery to its new heights because I’ve already climbed, droved, trekked and cleaned up mountains; cooked with stones and drank with bamboos; ridden the waves and glided with the fishes and became amazed with the beautiful corals; drunk and danced til I dropped…

…met wonderful creatures…


…met wonderful people… 
Lapu-Lapu, Jose Rizal, Enchanted (what’s his name?) and kissed the hand of Josefa Llanes Escoda.
 
I still have a lot of places to discover in the Philippines and it awes me everyday. I’ll visit Mindanao soon!
 

Based in my LIFE GOALS which I’ve written when I was in gradeschool, I should have traveled most of the places in the Philippines and experience being out of the country at the age of 25. Oh my! I’m included in the long list of “EDSA babies” so I’m turning 25 this year! I panicked when the year started and booked a flight to somewhere out of the country right away! Haha. Well, time indeed flies so fast, I’ll be leaving on Friday for Jakarta and looking forward to the fun and exciting new experience. 


The food, language, people and culture— I’m delighted!

GOAL for Filipino Travelers

Because  Airline companies have several “seat sales” nowadays, Filipinos in my generation are more exposed now to traveling and experiencing other cultures and places. 


There will never be shortcut to learning. I believe that to remain fresh and happy, we should always learn from our every encounter with people, places, things and situations everyday, and traveling can be a fast track  to discover more about ourselves and the world we’re living in.

And because it’s always fun to discover more about your own culture that basically reflects who you really are and show you the attributes that you should always be proud of, I decided to post this article from Philippine Daily Inquirer. I think it should be a goal for every Filipino to experience this checklist (As a Filipino, I still have to experience 20 things. Haha. I crossed out my experiences, I hope you’ll do yours too.):

Philippines has several breathtaking beaches.
Photo taken in Nasugbu, Batangas (2010)



25 THINGS TO DO IN THE PHILIPPINES…

By Jill Lejano, Philippine Daily Inquirer


… before fantasizing about exploring other countries
1. Go white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro.
2. Visit Batanes.
3. See Mt. Mayon up close.
4. Swim with the whale sharks in Donsol.
5. Climb Mt. Pulag and be awed by its sea of clouds.
6. Dive, swim and explore Palawan’s underground river. (Just Coron!)
7. Hike and let the view of Mt. Pinatubo crater take your breath away.
8. Party in your bikini in Boracay.
9. Surf’s up! Choose your wave—La Union, Zambales or Real, Quezon.
10. Missed out on the pristine beauty of Boracay 15 years ago? Visit Malapascua, Cebu.
11. Dive and see the rich marine life of Anilao, Batangas.
12. Travel back in time—go to Vigan.
13. Let Bohol wow you with its many offerings—the Chocolate Hills, the tarsier, the Loboc River Cruise, old churches and the beach.
14. Go high! Drive to the Mountain Province of Sagada. Check out the caves, the hanging coffins and enjoy the laidback lifestyle.
15. Grab a Viaje del Sol map, visit Ugu Binyan’s pottery studio, eat at Kusina Salud and unwind at Casa San Pablo.
16. Spend an entire week up north. Take a road trip from Manila to Vigan, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Aparri and Isabela!
17. Try wakeboarding in Camsur.
18. Check out Malate, Old Manila and all their secret spots.
19. There are many reasons to love Davao. Kublai’s artworks, its proximity to the beach, the tasty pastil and juicy suha. And did I mention that it’s a smoke-free city?
20. Spend a weekend roughing it in Anawangin and Capones in Zambales.
21. Check out our colorful fiestas and document them with your camera. Ati-atihan, Dinagyang, Masskara, Sinulog, Higantes, Panagbenga, Pahiyas and more.
22. Pick your own strawberries at the Strawberry Fields in La Trinidad, Benguet.
23. Go to Pampanga for sisig.
24. If it’s too hot in Manila, grab a few friends and take a quick trip to Tagaytay.
25. Enjoy a food trip in Iloilo. You’ll never go hungry in this city.