This post is long overdue but as Spring winds down and we transition into Summer, I can’t help but reflect on its beauty from the east to the west. Many holidays have passed by, at home and in the countries I once visited, that showcase how great spring can be when we’re expressing our honor for each other. Easter, Holi, The Cherry Blossom Festival, Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, Buddha’s Birthday and, last but not least, Memorial Day, all have unique activities that relate to the season and how we interact with our landscape. When observing Easter, to represent new life, the symbol of an egg is commonly used and the practice of painting them gives color to the holiday as little pops of pastels peak out from under the greenery. I witnessed Holi through an Indian group in Korea, who held the celebration on Busan Beach overlooking the East Sea. It definitely was a spectacular sight when they counted down to “Holi Hai” and threw powdered paint up in the air with the backdrop of the sea glistening behind them.
The first tree I always notice coming back to life after a harsh winter are the Cherry Blossoms, so it’s no surprise to me that they would have festivals for them on both sides of the world. Hundreds of people crowded the parks in Korea and in Washington, DC just to catch a glimpse and sit under their pink shade. It’s the only time when I see pink and white as a powerful palette. I can appreciate the minimalism of color on Hakata dolls or the repetition of cherry blossom patterns on kimonos and scrolls. I brought some home from Japan, which happen to stand out the most from all my treasures.
May was probably the most eventful because there are a lot of days dedicated to honoring the people we love, the people in our bubble. I was able to observe Parent’s Day, Children’s Day and Buddha’s Birthday in Korea and how people shower each other with gifts like lush flower arrangements and fancy hanboks. Buddha’s Birthday was the most extravagant holiday because all of the temples came to life with lantern lights strung around the block and mile long parades.
Last year around this time, I was in Tokyo which made me think of Spring in a whole new light. The most memorable moments were the fashion, from traditional clothes to funky street styles or the mix of both. The fashions of Tokyo reminded me of characters out of a fairy tale or animation, even the simple fashions which may have been muted in color but dramatic in fit. The simple white, red and gold garments of traditional wedding dress around the temples contrasted greatly with the bold, vibrant hues of Harajuku attire occasionally topped off with a bright wig and graphic accessories. I checked out a few shops and quickly realized how important accessorizing with little trinkets (or decora) are in everyday life, especially with the theme of baby animals. I finally understood the attraction people have with Hello Kitty. I was drawn to the bags, pins, clips, toys and stationary glittered around each store because they were so cute and miniature. “Cute and miniature” are definitely key words of my experience, so I couldn’t resist buying an expensive, handmade pin, made out of a little pencil from a shop called Sis Art and Craft.
Now that Memorial Day has passed and people are starting to cook out in their shorts, it symbolizes to me that the Spring bubble has popped and Summer is here…almost. I’m excited for the outdoor street festivals, craft markets and new fashions to come.