Nature is very much a part of the daily lives of people in Japan, captured in their cooking and in their textiles, reflected in the architecture, in literature etc. and celebrated through festivals marked in the Japanese calendar.
These annual celebrations serve as reminder for the deeper appreciation of both the beauty and brevity of the seasons, bringing a heightened awareness to the impermanence of nature and of life. In preparation for the return of spring, we will be turning our attention to the rituals surrounding the cherry blossom tree; sakura (桜).
Japan has over 200 varieties of cherry trees, both wild and cultivated, with the five-petaled pink blossom Yoshino, being the most familiar. Sakura is highly cherished in Japanese culture for its short, but wonderful, season at the start of spring- once the cherry tree blossoms, the delicate flowers will start to fall within two weeks.
The ancient Japanese ritual of hanami, whilst simply meaning ‘flower viewing’, is revered for its association to the blossoming of sakura. Once in bloom, friends and family will gather together under the cherry trees, often for a whole day, so to allow for time to fully appreciate this first sign of spring.
As a sign of our appreciation for this time honoured celebration, we have commissioned a small collection of block printed furoshiki by artist Georgia Dorey.
A perfect example of the Japanese ability to create beauty from the simplest of things, and whilst it literally translates to ‘bath spread’, furoshiki was first used in the Nara period as a way to protect valuable goods. Whilst still used as an elegant and practical way of wrapping an array of objects, the furoshiki made by Georgia are inspired by the elaborate picnics people prepare to enjoy under the cherry blossom. Designed for you to wrap a picnic hamper in or gift to a love one for them to enjoy their own hanami, the full collection is on view and available to purchase in the shop until the end of March.
We also have a small amount of salted sakura blossom in the shop this month, and whilst the traditional drink for hanami is sake, you may drink tea. Our favourite recommendation is to grind the blossom to then brew with our new Organic Uji black tea.Grown in the Kyoto Prefecture at 300m altitude, the leaves of the Uji black tea are then fermented for 12 hours, lending a brew that is light but full of dried Ume- perfect with the salty but sweet almond notes of the sakura blossom.
Whilst you wait for your tea to brew, we encourage you to read this extract from Georgia’s writing, inspired by her research on hanami;
‘Cherry blossom blooms for a fleeting moment, announcing the arrival of spring in Japan.
It’s flowering is brief. As these weightless blooms arrive, a gust of wind can knock them from the branches, sending petals fluttering to the ground.
No attempt is made to save the blossom; its beauty is discovered in its fragility, both in its presence and its promise of parting.
Blossom cannot be stopped from falling; you can only be there to embrace the fleetingness of clouds of pink. Nature’s reminder to live in this moment and to be aware of the ephemeral seasons happening around you.
In this moment, a space is held in everyone’s hearts and imaginations. It is a space that is kept to enjoy blossom-watching outings, picnics and tea under the flowering trees.
I welcome you to notice the warm tea in your cup and the colours underfoot as the petals fall about you. Soon the pink clouds will be replaced by green.
This is the delicate beauty of the Japanese cherry blossom.’
Find out more about Georgia and her work here.