The park of Shinjuku, in central Tokyo, Satoe Noguchi stalking the petal white like other amateur photographers the great fawn or a rare bird: at the telephoto. A Olympus on a tripod, one shoulder strap, this elegant restated change of angle around the cherry not of velvet, as if she was looking for the secret key of a temple full of mysteries. But his biggest concern is obviously the tourists, mainly chinese, that lap, thrilled, under the trees in bloom and that it strives to banish them from his field: which costume in empress manchu, who in a kimono operetta, which in star of chinese rock…

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The Japanese have invented aikido, the car remote-controlled and the walkman ; but humanity must, above all, to have discovered the cherry tree in bloom, or sakura . They have put this tree at the centre of their culture and their concerns, probably since the Heian era (794-1185). It is at this time, in fact, that the imperial family takes the habit of a picnic under the roof of petals that forms each spring around its branches, before this custom come down, century after century, until the common of the Japanese – and, more recently, tourists.

A public Hamami will also be celebrated in the evening, as here, in a park of Tokyo. Hitoshi Yamada/NurPhoto/AFP

The popularity of sakura became a public matter. Each year, the meteorological agency national predicts and describes their ascent from south to north, from Okinawa to Hokkaido, to shots of releases similar to those welcoming a State visit. Habemus sakura ! Why such a craze? The cherry trees evoke several traits of the national character: the impermanence of all things, the cyclical nature of time, the first warmth of spring…

“At this time of the year, we live, in addition to the cherry blossoms, the end of the fiscal year, graduation, first employment… The cherry blossoms remind us of these key moments of our lives,” explains Kyoko, an office worker. “They have accompanied me all my life. As a child, I admired those that line the Sumida river, near my home,” recalls Satoe Noguchi. She lives today in the vicinity of the Sky Tree , a gigantic television antenna steel that has a tree ( tree ) as the name. “At least the sakura to bloom again each year. I do not miss for anything in the world,” she says.

A craze universal

“To fully understand the cherry trees, it is necessary to observe from the beginning of flowering until the time when flowers begin to fall off,” advises Nobuyuki Asada, secretary-general of the japan association for the cherry blossoms. In the park of Shinjuku, the visitor can observe that the craze became universal, hundreds of tourists rushed to the foot of each cherry tree bloomed. It overflows even trees to cover the Japanese, who, as Satoe Noguchi, find themselves photographed in the photographing. “There is too much world, I want the sakura with no one in front”, maugrée a couple of students of japanese who no longer recognize their park comes to globalization.

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