JAPAN IN SPRING

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By Dr Nusrat Majeed

Gloomy lockdown in beautiful spring makes me nostalgic about my stay in Japan and the and   the lovely springs that I enjoyed in different parts of the  country The first spring  was  experienced during my cardiology  training in Tokushima  university.

what  took  me there is a frequently  asked question .It  dates  back to my studies  in Mc Master’s university in Canada and then   Mayo   clinic  Minnesota in the  US ,where I had gone for my post graduate training  ,after  graduating  from King  Edwards  medical college  in Lahore

At both these prestigious  universities   I was thoroughly  impressed by                                                             Original work and the research by the japanes  cardiologists  ,so I decided to go to japan  to have first  hand  experience.it was not easy but I   was  bent upon visiting japan and  finally  landed at Tokushima  airport  on the  20th  of March  1992

I was greeted  very warmly  by the Dean  and  the    professorial  staff of cardiology  depepartment

It was a new world all together   ,homogeneity of  society  ,very rich  culture and above  all  THE  CHERRY  BLOSOMS  were  out of this world

My university  was in Shikoku [four  countries] prefecture It is famous for its towering   mountains  in the   middle  of island and has  its  share of natural marvels  and attractions  not be  missed.

Like our twin cities of Rawalpindi  and Islamabad ,Tokushima too has a twin city Naruto,a place  famous for  Whirlpools, as a matter of  fact it is among  the world,s top three  whirlpools

In between sky and  the  whirlpools is  Naruto  bridge  ,a beautiful  piece of architecture,  is simply awe  inspiring Shikoku,s history can be traced back all the way  back  to the era ,when Bhuddism   was  first  introduced to Japan   from  China,so this     prefecture   is full  of  ancient,historical temples and shrines and has breath taking   scenery[only in tokushima  there are  86  temples and shrines]

Now coming  back to  Spring —–In japan  it is synonymous  with Sakura[cherry  blossom] and  Hanami ,it literally  translates to  flower [hana] viewing [ mi ]  It  is  much more than just admiring  flowers,though  it is a celebration  of newness but  it is also transience Hanami and sakura are a major cultural phenomenon throughout   the country  and heralds  the arrival of spring .

Boughs  upon Boughs of  cherry  blossoms   decorate the  sky  in pale  pink,their  delicate  silhouette  no larger than a thumb.

Beneath   this   sea  of  flowers  is the huge  sea of  plastic  mats The  delicate cherry  blossom trees  bloom  and from the  very  first pop of  colour  to the  last  fallen patel , the  people   celebrate  Hanami

The  full  bloom of cherry  blossoms happen from late  March   to Early april.It is also a season  of   many   changes  in Japan  including  graduations   and  entrance ceremonies   to school, so there  are  many  reasons  to celebrate.

 Academic  and  fiscal year also  starts   from 1st April This fleeting  beauty   of Japan  is  renowned  all  over  the   world

On the 3rd day  of  my arrival ,my department  planned  a Hanami  trip at  mount  BIZAN ,it is called  so  because     it is  shaped  like an  eye brow. It was an  unforgettable  experience  .

People  from all walks  of  life  including  women ,children and the elderly  come  out in these  beautiful  gardens .

They eat and drink  while basking under  the flowers . Appreciation  of  nature  aside,  HANAMI is where  every one  from salary man   to  tourists  can meet and greet, with   the sole  purpose of having  good time.

It is an experience  so uniquely  Japanese. For  centuries  sakura has been an integral  part  of  culture from  music and  performing  arts  to handicrafts and cuisine

This sense  of  appreciating   nature  —–petals  falling   on the  ground along with change in  people,s  lives  ,the  delightfulness and  gentle  excitement  of  it all –is closely  connected  with the  perishing  of  the  moment .we are startled  into  thoughts  on the  brevity of  life.

This is a deep  philosophy  of the  Japanese culture  which  is  reserved  , humble  and   formal.