Blossoms take student to homeland

By Ao Hsing-Yi - Staff Reporter

Highline's campus is bursting into bloom and for at least one international student, it brings fond memories of her homeland Japan.

The Hanami or flower-viewing season usually refers to the custom of enjoying cherry blossoms or plum flowers and usually happens in April. For Ayaka Tateishi, a Japanese international student, the awakening of trees and shrubs weeks later on the Highline campus is reminding her once again of the tradition. 

But she says that although both old and young people appreciate the beauty of the flowers, Hanami is celebrated much differently between newer and older generations these days. Rather than quiet contemplation, today's celebrations have more energy. 

 "My friends and I have Hanami every year, but unlike elders, we just enjoy eating, drinking and having fun under cherry blossoms instead of [simply] watching flowers blossoming," Tateishi said. "Older generations are not as crazy as us."

Some companies and foreign communities hold Hanami events every year as well. The annual Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival was celebrated late last month at the Seattle Center. Another popular Seattle blossom-viewing place is the main University of Washington campus.

Tateishi said that when companies celebrate Hanami, it is "a good way to build good relationships with your co-workers."

Hanami may be a Japanese tradition, but it seems that people from around the world enjoy it.

According to Japan's National Tourism Organization, a record 19.73 million foreign tourists went to Japan in 2015 for cherry blossom season.

Among the places where Hanami is celebrated in the United States are New York City or Washington D.C., where enjoying the season it is a lot cheaper for those who can't afford to visit Japan.

 "Whatever you do or whatever you eat while participating in Hanami, just enjoy it!" was Tateishi's advice.

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