Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's sakura!!

The pink has descended on Japan.
As the country prepares for sakura, or the infamous spring cherry blossoms, a pink commercial explosion introduces…



school uniforms:

I never thought I’d embrace a color most girls in America are pigeonholed into accepting. “It’s a girl” is code for, “Now I can buy that adorable pink pajama set.”

I used to run from pink like it was the devil.

“Oh, I don’t want it. It’s pink.”
“Do you by any chance have this in another color?”
“It’s too pink for my liking.”
“I’d take purple over pink any day.”
“It looks like a flamingo threw up in here!”

But in Japan, pink is a gender-neutral color.

It’s the color of spring.
The color that marks the end of snowy days and frigid nights.
The color that cracks a smile on everyone’s winter mask.

Most kids know how to say pink before they can say hello. It’s a friendly color that can warm timid children to a scary looking English teacher putting on her silly face in a desperate attempt to win their affection.

“Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes...”
“A, B, C, D, E, F, G…”
“One little, two little, three little elephants…four little five little six little elephants…”

Blank stares.
A tighter grip on Mommy’s leg.
Wrinkled faces.
The quiver of a tear.

Oh no, this isn’t going so well…

…time for pink…

And I whip out the old color flashcards. Like a magnet, the kids hurl forward toward pink. They start to smile. They start to high-five me back and detach from their parents. I look into their eyes, and I know I’ve won them over.

*            *            *

The sun sets a little later these days. 

Today I went for a walk without a jacket. I walked along my favorite river path thinking about my past seven months in Japan.

Thinking about the victims of the recent earthquake and all the kindness and generosity the world is showing toward them.

Suddenly, I hear a voice.
“SUGOI !!!!!!!”
You only need to spend one day in Japan to know what this means…
I look up. A family of three is pointing at what looks like an ordinary tree. I wait for them to leave before I take a closer look.

There before my very eyes are the first rosy buds of a sakura tree.

Stretching toward the sun.
Lengthening against the last winds of winter.
My heart leaps at their lovely color pink.

The sakura are coming!! The sakura are coming!! I’m five again.

And I skip into spring.

To learn more about the cultural significance of the cherry blossom in Japan, visit the link below to begin your research, or just read any book about sakura. Happy discovering!


  1. We could use some pink in Ithaca right now! Sugo!, Brenna san.

  2. Yes! After 14years of American life, still my favorite flower is Sakura. As a matter of fact, I have cherry blossom tree in my front yard in Syracuse. It reminds me of my family and friends, and hard time they are going through right now.

  3. Great post. Informative and I enjoy how your narrative unfolds.

  4. What amazing photos! And an awesome use of pink in the classroom! How lucky to walk in Japan as blossoms begin to emerge. Can't wait to see more!

  5. Thanks for commenting! I'm sending you all lots of cherry blossom pink!! xo

  6. Brenna this was fantastic. Thanks!