The Beauty Of Cherry Blossom Festivals

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Introduction
Only in springtime will it grow. For less than a month, it stands in utter adoration atop a pedestal of growth and beauty. When its time reaches the end, it graciously falls back to the earth in a light flurry of rosy snowfall. The short-lived life of the Japanese cherry blossom, or sakura, has become a symbol of fleeting beauty to the Japanese, and its blossoming is an occurrence widely celebrated throughout the country of Japan. Hanami, or flower viewing, is a tradition of the Japanese culture created in the Nara Period (710-793 AD) where many convene together to celebrate the beauty of the flowers during cherry blossom festivals (Anonymous 24). This traditional custom in admiration of beauty still takes place to this day where young and old alike can gather in praise of the pure, perfected beauty unique to Japan.
When walking through a cherry blossom festival today, one would stand in astonishment when observing the younger generation. The prim, modest Japanese woman has been exchanged for a bold, energetic machine charging at maximum speed into the 21st century. Twenty years ago, Sumiko Iwao took note of a wide-spread stereotype in her book The Japanese Woman boldly claiming, “The Kimono-clad, bamboo parasol-toting, bowing female walking three paces behind her husband remains the image many Westerners hold” (Iwao 1). Today, this image no longer holds true. Japanese women are becoming increasingly more like the women of the West burying their kimonos and their shamisens deep within the vaults of their memories. In a Japanese hair dye advertisement by Palty, a young woman has dyed her hair blonde and wears blue colored contact lenses. Her appearance resembles that of an American starlet fully enveloped in a gla...

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... becoming characterless and bland. The rising female generation refuses to explore their personal individuality and instead caves to the pressure of society. Because of this overabundance of the West, there have been negative side effects among their mental and physical health. Like the geisha, the trend of crooked teeth, and the Lolita fashion, Japanese women must find their own originality. It is tolerable to look elsewhere for guidance into the future. However, Japan must recall their celebrated history as a protection and remembrance of their cultural history. Though the Japanese culture will never be what it was in ancient times, it is still grappling with old versus new. The influx of ideas of the West will continue to drown out the praised ideas of the East. Japan will escape from this battle as a country forever changed, forever marked, forever transformed.

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