A Little Secret about Cherry Blossoms

Dear Readers,


This is your former IMS intern, Reina.


Ever since last weekend, Tokyo has dove into Spring at full force and the weather has been nothing short of perfect; it’s almost unthinkable that it snowed last week.  Everyone is out for Hanami, and after almost 18 years of living in Japan I found out for the first time that the sakura trees, or cherry blossom trees, are not originally from Japan.  It was brought over from China or Korea and thus apparently there aren’t any cherry blossom trees in the Imperial Palace. That being said, I also learnt that instead plum trees “ume” are THE tree from Japan.  As many may do, I’ve associated cherry blossom trees with Japan for the life of me and I was a bit shocked when I discovered this fact. Nonetheless, cherry blossoms still make springtime in Japan iconic.


While Tokyo soars in temperatures, last weekend I went to go climb the snow-covered Mt. Karamatsu (2,694m) in the Northern Alps of Japan.  The trail starts at the very top of the Hakuba Happo-One ski resort, and it takes about 6 hours. As much as I enjoy going mountain climbing often, this was my first time doing alpine trekking in the snow using crampons, which are snow-spikes to prevent slipping.  As we were going up the mountain, many professional looking climbers looked at us with judgemental eyes and some commented “Are you planning to go all the way to the top? If so, you should reconsider because those gears of yours aren’t exactly ideal”. Regardless we kept going and made it to the top without too much of a burden.  The youthful naivety will forever win. It was a beautiful almost-cloudless day, and one genuine mistake we made was to not apply sunscreen; both my friend and I’s faces were horrendously burnt from both the sun and the reflection of the snow. For days after the hike, my face was bright red and painful to which I had to carry around a face moisturizer to apply to my face every 15 minutes.  Although at the end of the day, the climb was absolutely beautiful and I would highly recommend the mountain for those who are interested. Below are some pictures from the day:



It’s been a very productive and eventful past two weeks, a great refreshment to head into finals over the course of the next month.


Have a great week,

Reina T.