The school year wrapped up a few weeks ago, because Japanese school years follow the season. If you've ever watched any anime, you know that it's because of sakura (cherry blossom) season; the flowers symbolize a new beginning. The traditional calendar even started based on when sakura bloomed.
This time of year, there are popular events called "hanami" 花見 「はなみ」. Hana はな(花) means "flower," and mi (prounced like "me") み(見) means "to look" or "to see." So hanami (花見) is "flower viewing."
Most companies also follow the school year, in that they do the majority of the hiring in April, all across the country. In fact, at most companies, people are hired in "cohorts" at this time, train together, and work together. It's rare for a company to hire outside of spring! So, the end of March and the beginning of April is crazy busy here, and hanami is the time to sit down and enjoy nature. Our company is no different - we do the majority of the hiring in spring, and then have a sort of welcome hanami party.
A lot of people have asked me what it's like where I live in Japan, so I thought, as we were driving around before the party, to snap some pictures. These are all out the car windows, so forgive me for their quality. (Also, yes, we bought a car! Woo! More road trips!) This is what more rural Kyushu looks like, outside of the cities. Have I mentioned how much I love "inaka" (rural) Japan?
Here's how just about every day starts out. And behind that white cloud bank in the lower right, there is a mountain. This is an older picture, but it is what I see from the edge of our driveway.
See all those pink puffs on the mountains? Those are all cherry trees blooming!
Power lines are a ubiquitous sight in Japan, so much so that, to me, they are more symbols of the country than anything! lol
We have some neat rock formations near by, too. I couldn't get a good shot of it, but off to the left of that ragged rock is a temple up the mountain, and it's super cool. It's called "Rakan-ji
This is pretty much what small villages in the countryside look like. This is a small one next to the onsen (hot springs) we had our hanami party at.
Also, Oita is the hot spring capital of Japan. LUCKY!
So, those are some snapshots from this past weekend's events, maybe giving you some insight into life here in my little (rural) corner of heaven.
As an aside, I was thinking of trying to do this regularly on different things around here, or just from our random drives we take on occasion. Anyone interested in this becoming a regular thing? Got any questions about living or working in Japan?