by Sean, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
I realize that I haven't been using the word "sakura", the Japanese term for "cherry blossoms", at all this season. When a Japanese mentions "sakura", he or she usually refers to the Somei Yoshino cherry trees or their blossoms, because they are by far the majority and many agree that they look best. Some places, for example the Samurai District of Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture, have many Shidarezakura cherry trees. These are weeping cherry trees, and you might have noticed that the "zakura" part of the word is actually "sakura" with the first sound changed to match the words in front.
Kakunodate is one of the Tohoku Region's top three cherry blossom spots, along with Hirosaki and Kitakami. During an average year, by this time around the Golden Week Holidays, the cherry trees at Kakunodate would have been at or close to their peak. This year however, due to relatively severe weather, the trees have delayed opening their flowers; weather agencies have been forecasting that the sakura here would start opening today.
Kakunodate Samurai District
April 29, 2012 - Opening (10-50%) (Shidarezakura)
My grand aunt told me one day when I was a kid that, if you said to a peacock that it's not pretty, it will spread its feathers and show you what's pretty. Obviously I quickly found out that that doesn't work, but for some inexplicable reason, I found myself trying it at some of the Shidarezakura buds earlier today:
"You're not pretty!" I yelled, pointing an accusing finger at some innocent random bunch. What ensued was an embarrassing moment of epic proportions: The 65% or so unopened Shidarezakura blossoms simply ignored me, the 35% or so that were open gleamed in the sunshine as if they were laughing at me, and 100% of the passer-bys within a 50 meter radius stopped to stare curiously as if I were some talking ape. "Kirei desu ne (They are beautiful, aren't they)" I blurted, and quickly walked away to disappear within the crowd of thousands. Awkward.
April 29, 2012 - Opening (10-50%)
A kind old man single-handedly made my day better when he approached and said: "you must be a professional photographer." He then looked at my pictures and went: "kirei desu ne". I suddenly had the feeling that the only reason why he had that impression was because I was holding one camera in each hand. Ok, at least I Look like a professional. Wink.
Both banks of the Hinokinai River are lined with seemingly unending rows of sakura trees. I was feeling perturbed when trying to decide on the state of the blossoms: I walked back and forth the long stretch three times. At first, it seemed that the sakura were only at a just-opening stage. However, the more I walked and observed, the more they seemed to have blossomed. It was almost as if those petty pretty flowers were playing a trick to get back at me for my sudden outrage earlier.
Well, making a more serious conjecture, it could be the warm day which was encouraging the blossoms to bloom even as I walked. With the sakura and shidarezakura set to reach full bloom in a day or two, it would be a beautiful Golden Week here at Kakunodate.