Foreign Policy Blogs

Tokyo governor discouraged cherry blossom viewing

Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, a constant source of material for this blog, has asked citizens to avoid holding cherry blossom viewing parties, known as hanami, such as the one I mentioned in Sunday’s post.

Amidst the rolling blackouts in Tokyo caused by power shortages resulting from the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, Ishihara said last Tuesday, “People should voluntarily refrain from watching cherry blossoms at least during the night under the lights.” The next day he said, “This is not a time when anyone should be having parties viewing cherry blossoms, even during the daytime.”

At Ueno park, home to some 1200 cherry trees that attract 1.5 million visitors each season, the Tokyo government posted 30 signs reading, “We ask for voluntary restraint on parties within the park in the wake of the earthquake.” Similar signs were also posted at Inokashira Park.

As I concluded Sunday, I think hanami parties are one of the activities that foster a sense of community among the Japanese, which gives them the will to endure disasters such as the Mar. 11 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Ishihara, who I don’t believe understands the distinction between democracy and fascism, sees these parties as easy targets to reduce energy consumption. There are plenty of other ways to conserve energy, as I’ve mentioned before the excessive amounts of energy the Japanese waste on a daily basis, and perhaps halting the making of dozens of signs asking people to refrain from viewing cherry blossoms is a good place to start. I don’t think doing away with a distinctly Japanese pastime is a productive way of saving energy.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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