Culture Article #22: For the Joy of Sharing

An Introduction to Japan – Episode 3

By C.I. Sivasubramanian
Aged 96, Retired Director, Ministry of Commerce, New Delhi


Introduction by Venkat
After

An Introduction to Japan – Episode 3

Our Visit in 1998

We Indians, generally, look towards the West, notably America, and want to imbibe their customs and manners. Little do we give credence to the east where the culture and tradition is more or less akin to ours. Till a few years back Japan was a ‘closed’ country, they shunned foreigners. They have opened up in recent years and there have been much traffic from India and other counties towards Japan. The IT industry has done the trick. We got an opportunity to visit Japan in 1998, though we were not IT professionals!

It so happened that our son- in- law was posted as the Maintenance Manager, Air India, Tokyo, in 1996. Our daughter and their two little kids along with their grandpa went immediately after him. They had been asking us to visit Tokyo for some time as they were particularly enamored by the Cherry blossom season there. We happily accepted their invitation and visited Japan in the spring of l998 during the Cherry blossom season. The season was almost getting over and our daughter hurried us to visit as soon as possible. My wife and I (in future I shall be referring to her as Amma, a generic name), accompanied by my eldest daughter and family, proceeded to Tokyo in March 1998. Before I dwell on Tokyo, let me give you an idea of cherry blossoms and how the Japanese cherish it.



As I said before, my daughter hurried us to go over to Japan during the cherry blossom season which lasts but just two weeks, from end March to beginning of April. Fortunately, we were able to see the blossoms in the first one or two days of our visit. There were a number of cherry trees close to the Imperial Palace gardens, close to our home, in full bloom. We happened to view them in the night. Local people take pleasure in viewing each bloom, sitting at leisure below the trees. Many had camped under the trees for a picnic. We enjoyed seeing the flowers in bright pink color and also the Japanese viewing them with so much interest and awe. They call it Sakura Hanami, sakura meaning flowers, and hanami, viewing. It was almost like Christmas season, a festive occasion.

The beauty of Tokyo is that wherever you turn, you see greenery and flowers. They have a knack for arranging flowers (Japanese women are famous for their Ikebana flower arrangement). Even the towers of different sizes and shapes show the Japanese architectural skill and art. They are built with care to absorb earthquake shocks which occur routinely in Japan.

I had lot of time at my disposal. My daughter gave me some literature on Japan. I studied them well. So, as an introduction I shall explain the origin of the country, their customs and social behaviour, how far they have advanced as compared to other developed countries, etc.

To be continued…


By C.I. Sivasubramanian
Aged 96, Retired Director, Ministry of Commerce, New Delhi

Mr. Sivasubramanian hails from Coimbatore. He has been living in Delhi throughout life. He was employed with the Government of India, Ministry of Commerce and retired as Director in 1986.


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