The ornamental cherry blossom is so much a part of Japan when I see the cherry and plum trees blooming all over the valley now it brings the same emotional reminders of that place and the meaning the symbol holds for the Japanese (and for Americans too). The metaphor represents the ephemeral nature of all life and you’ll see it in many movies where the point is to remind you that life is short, the bloom on the tree is temporary, beautiful and fragile. The tree is called sakura and the public watch for the sakura zensen, or cherry blossoms like we wait for the leaves to change to their fall colors in the Northeast. Full bloom typically hits Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April when the ground gets seriously slippery with the pink petals. Parks, shrines and temples attract groups of “flower viewing parties” known as hanami and this custom dates back to the 3rd century. Around here the ornamental cherry and plum trees are already in full bloom. The petal showers will start soon, like an Akira Kurasawa movie. Stop and inhale. Appreciate the moment, it is fleeting.