Friday, April 3, 2009

Cherry Blossoms on the Brain

It's another gloomy Spring day here in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan area. As you can see from the National Park Service's Cherry Blossom web cam, the skies are rainy and overcast.

And I am working on my Bead Journal Project for March. I wanted to show you a progress picture this morning, but the weather is not cooperating for good I'll just put you in the mindset of what I'm doing.

Image courtesy of Blue Lotus

I'm stitching a few cherry blossoms and I'm stitching them according to the method I learned in Japanese embroidery. It's my first time taking a Japanese motif that I have typically stitched on silk fabric, on a stretched frame with silk thread and translated it into something that is more mixed media. But the cherry blossom, or sakura, is by far one of my favorite Japanese embroidery motifs. The silk thread really represents the delicacy of the cherry blossom well.

These examples are taken from an antique embroidery fragment given to me by my Japanese embroidery teacher.

Cherry blossom viewing has its own word in the Japanese language, hanami (literally to "view flowers"). And hanami is a huge deal in Japan when hundreds of thousands of Japanese people will flock to parks to walk, play and eat under the flowered canopies of the cherry blossoms. One of my favorite memories is hanami bento or special lunch boxes that were prepared to eat while cherry blossom viewing. They were always so beautifully presented that it seemed to taste better because it looked so good.

Image courtesy of Blue Lotus

I just discovered Amy of Blue Lotus who moved to Japan in 1996 and married a Japanese man. She chronicles her love of Japan, especially Japanese cooking on her very beautiful and informative blog.

We're lucky to have our own celebration here in Washington, D.C., the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is held for two weeks every Spring to coincide with the peak blooming of the cherry trees that surround the tidal basin and Potomac Park in downtown Washington, D.C. The festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, honoring the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and representing the hope for continued closeness between the two cultures.

Photo courtesy of Mireille on Flickr

And, I'm happy to report at the writing of this post, that the peak blossom time is NOW! In the rain. But that's OK, I'm hoping to go over on Sunday at sunrise to sneak a peek at the spring spectacle...

Maybe by then, I will have better weather to take some pics and have more to share.

And, one last thing, I just happen to love the artwork for this year Festival poster...isnt' it great?


TattingChic said...

The flowery photos are gorgeous as is your stitiching!
That box of goodies does look beautifully presented. What a lovely tradition.

Judy S. said...

That IS a lovely poster, and I'm sure your bead journal will be, too. Our poor little cherry trees here are under another dusting of snow this morning. Yikes, I thought it was April?

Tammy said...

Your work is beautiful, I've been to DC a few times to see the cherry blossoms, it was a work trip, but the blossoms made it seem better. I love the poster, I wasn't aware they made a poster to celebrate the event or that they had a celebration with the cherry blossoms - thanks for sharing the history behind it all.

Allison Ann Aller said...

Ravishing....and it's the bento box I'm talking about!
I love the concept of hanami...only in Japan....thanks for the lovely post.

Vicki W said...

Hi Susan, I just wanted to leave you a note to tell you that I really appreciate your visits to my blog and your comments. Several times I have tried to respond but your emails are always returned undeliverable.

Lisa said...

Can't wait to see your March bead journal project after reading and viewing this lovely post! In the past few years, I've fallen in love with Sakura and the idea of Hamani and have been collecting sakura items from postcards, various ephemera and the dishes I use everyday! Hope you get to have a blossom filled Sunday morning with beautiful light!

Wanda said...

What an honor to be there during this time! Years ago we'd go to Washington to see the cherry blossoms. It was wonderful...the smell, the happiness. The springtime feeling. I would love to one day visit DC with my husband. He's never been there. I'd especially like to be there with him over Memorial Day...there's so much going on. So many motorcyclists displaying their badges of pride and love of country. I am so fortunate to be an American...maybe I feel it so much because I haven't lived in my own country for over 20 years. But I am a proud American and always will be! Thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories.

Chris said...

I didn't know that story about the cherry trees in Washington. For years I have heard the new reports that the trees are blossoming but nothing about their noble origins.

Marty52 said...

Oh, my... eye candy in all shapes, sizes and materials... what a beautiful post, Susan! Love that poster!

Nellie's Needles said...

Wonderful! full of wonder ... all of it.

The silk in your stitched flowers looks lovingly stroked into place. Wonderful!

Balwearie said...

Sigh... One of these days I'm going to get up there for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I've caught the tail end of it a couple of times. I can't wait to see your new work -- I love the Japanese embroidery!

black bear cabin said...

i love being in DC while the cherry blossoms are in bloom...its absolutely lovely!!! I have some old pictures from my trip there...analog, so id have to dig out the albums :) But with all the snow we have here, it would be inspiring to look thru! thanks for reminding me!

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