It's about that time, folks:
Not literally. As far as I know, Japan hasn't claimed an entire season. To me, though, early Spring has always been pretty strongly associated with Japan. It's not without reason: cherry blossoms are falling, and the Japanese holiday, Hinamatsuri, is right around the corner. During cherry blossom season in Japan, it feels like the whole nation is at peace. People everywhere are outside enjoying "hanami," a tradition of viewing cherry blossoms. It's basically a very tranquil picnic. On top of that, Hinamatsuri- also known as Girl's Day- is on March 3rd.
In Japan, people put up special "Hina" dolls for their daughters for prosperity, happiness and marriage and then eat good food. I was obsessed with my Hina dolls. My sisters and I all had our own set. Mine is probably the worst for wear because I always wanted to put up my dolls first. The set has an emperor, empress and their furnishings. Some sets even have attendants to the royal family.
Hina dolls are very different from any American counterpart. Everything is made with the utmost detail, down to the silk clothes and wooden fans. As an American wild child with the woods literally in my backyard, I kept my amazing mother busy protecting my Hina dolls from me.
To a mixed Japanese kid, Japan season was really, truly awesome. One of the main reasons was because my grandfather's seasonal trips came during Japan season. As a kid, my grandfather was Japan. He's was a man of a new generation, who rebuilt Japan after the horror of WWII: strong, disciplined, kind and clever. If anyone was ever a credit to their country, it was him.
A lot of people think of being biracial and bicultural as a split, and try to gauge how evenly split you are- 50-50? 20-80? 90-10? It can be pretty hard not to get caught up in it. It wasn't an easy road to rise above the cultural he-said-she-said, but I had a pretty strong team at my back. A team that my grandfather was always on. As I get a little bit older, I'm starting to see traces of my grandfathers thinking in my own- a mix of flowers and steel. Although I can't fully explain the nuances of what Japan season means to me, I'd urge you to go out and experience it yourself. Get a couple of friends together and have a Hanami; have a drink in the name of international friendship.