Silly statistics on the ephemeral

Regarding the April 5 Jiji Press article “Aomori blossoms ‘best’“: Are you kidding me? Did Weathernews Inc. really take a hanami survey to find out all the important statistical data about the cherry blossom viewing habits of Japan’s hanami-loving devotees?

Isn’t this sort of like taking a survey to find out on average how many Christmas carols American families listen to on Christmas Eve, or how many pumpkins were carved per capita during the Halloween season?

Who cares that the residents of Aomori spent more money and time on cherry blossom viewing than anywhere else in Japan? Though this is very understandable! Aomori winters are cold, dark, snowy and bleak in this remote region of Tohoku.

Residents are snowbound for many months and have much to celebrate with the arrival of warmer weather, sunnier skies and budding cherry blossoms. It’s a sign of renewed life, nature reborn.

The folks in Aomori can truly appreciate the delights of the spring season — the sort of things in life that simply can’t be quantitatively measured in a public opinion poll.

And it doesn’t come as a surprise that Okinawan residents spent the least amount of time viewing cherry blossoms. After all, they enjoy semi-tropical warmth even in the winter months and can enjoy gardening throughout the year.

Here in Otaru (Hokkaido), we are still shoveling snow and must wait nearly two weeks for our first hanami. It will be a very Golden Week indeed!

I doubt if Japan’s greatest haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, took heed of how much he spent on sake while enjoying his annual hanami. Nor did he note the passage of time.

The very spirit of a hanami celebration is ephemeral, right? Why would anyone want to do a monetary/time analysis of such a “fleeting” occasion?

What’s next, researching which region of Japan composes the most haiku during the tsukimi moon-viewing season in September, or how many hours were spent moon viewing on average in each prefecture?

robert mckinney

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.