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Itaru I.
Group Organizer
Ypsilanti, MI
Minasan, haru ga machidooshii koko Michigan desu ga, okawari arimasenka?

Arrival of spring is very late in Michigan compared to major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. The day of equinox is the fist day of spring in the U.S., whereas the next day of “setsubun” (see February’s monthly news letter) is the first day in Japanese calendar. Plum trees start blooming around that time in Japan, but most of Japanese feel spring with “sakura”(cherry blossoms). I believe that all Japanese have some kind of feeling and thoughts toward “sakura”. I read an article about the oldest cherry tree in Japan. Can you guess how old it is?

Starting mid March, “Sakura Zensen”(Cherry Blossom Front – the line linking the initial days of bloom of cherry trees in the various different regions) appears on weather news. Every year Japanese people is looking forward the arrival of the front, and some start planning to have “Hanami”(Flower-viewing – picnic-like parties held under a cherry tree to view the flowers. It varies from just watching and socializes, to drink alcohol and have karaoke which lasts till late at night. If you have lived in Japan long enough, you must have seen such a scene or two.

We have two new members this month. Annie san, Sato sensei, welcome!! Sato sensei is a teacher of U of M Residential Collage. I saw him at the training session of Japan Bowl, which is quiz-type competition match for school kids, sponsored by the Japanese Teachers’ Associatoin of Michigan and U-M’s Center for Japanese Studies. I’ve lived in A2-Ypsi area for more than 15 years, but I’ve never heard about this event utill now. Anne san, who is also one of members of Japanese meetup asked me to be a volunteer. Unfortunately I couldn’t help them this year, but I’m thinking of joining them next year. The training session itself was fun. I met one of the volunteers of this event yesterday and he said that he enjoyed the day very much. Anne san, sasotte kurete arigato!

Do you know there is a place where has a lots of “Sakura” in Greater Detroit? It’s Belle Isle Park. When Mr. Archer was still the mayor of Detroit, Nagoya city donated them to Detroit as friendship. “Sakura zensen” will arrive at Belle Isle probably in early to mid May. Why don’t you go see them? Please remember though, cherry blossom doesn’t last long. Oh, and the oldest cherry tree in Japan – it’s about 2000 years old!

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