Of festivals and fleeting blossoms
MYlittle friend Erika turned seven last year and off she flew from Sydney to Tokyo with mother Saori and father Shane to celebrate her special birthday at the Shichi-go-san (seven-five-three) festival. This auspicious fete is held in Japan every November 15 for three and seven-year-old girls and three and fiveyear-old boys. The children visit shrines wearing formal garb and receive blessings, candy and, naturally, a lot of camera-clicking attention.
Erika wore Saori’s childhood kimono, obi sash, geta sandals and accessories. In a lovely continuum of tradition, Erika’s grandmother had been keeping the items in a tissue-lined box ready for the day when Saori’s daughter would follow in her footsteps — as it turned out, Japanese-Australian Erika wasn’t all that keen at first on the clomping wooden sandals and the trussed-tight obi but loved being at the centre of it all.
It’s time-honoured festivals such as this that make Japan such a delightfully colourful place to visit, and if you are holidaying in spring and summer there’s the added attraction of trees in full blossom (especially in March and April) and gardens at their flowering best.
It’s the fleeting nature of cherry blossoms, in particular, that makes spring so revered. The success of each year’s showing lies in the hands of the weather gods. If in Tokyo, head to Shinjuku Gyo-en, an oasis of parkland famous for a profusion of doubleflowering cherry trees. There have been haiku verses galore written about the seasons in Japan but none more joyous than those celebrating the warm advent of spring. And as I look again at our photo album, I see that the kimono worn by the young Saori and then by little Erika is patterned with branches of blooms and cascades of petals — and both mother and daughter are still blossoming.