The Season of the Sakura has come to Japan, and all throughout the country cherry trees are exploding like beautiful fireworks. One of the best things about Japan is doing hanami or flower viewing, which usually involves spreading a tarp under the cherry trees and having a party with your friends, drinking lots of beer and sake while the petals fall all around you. Flower viewing has been popular in Japan since the beginning of written history, with the first hanami recorded in the Nara period (710-784), although the word initially applied to viewing of ume or plum flowers, which are also pretty. It’s common for companies to seize on the coming of spring to sell new products, and if you turn on the TV you’ll be bombarded by images of special beer brewed just for spring or the newest video camera perfect for recording your child’s first day of school. The Maruchan noodle company has gotten into the spirit, too, hiring black enka singer Jero (iTunes Japan link) to advertise special spring-themed versions of their ramen noodles, with sakura-ebi or tiny freeze-dried little shrimp inside (yech).
Enka singer Jero, in a new campaign promoting ramen noodles for spring. Doesn’t look that good though.