People in Japan take the passing of the seasons seriously. In fact, there's a public holiday coming up on Thursday in observance of the vernal equinox, which essentially marks the transition to spring.
One of the things that people traditionally observe and celebrate to mark the coming of spring is the blossoming of flowers, signifying the renewal of life after the long, cold winter. Though clearly there are many types of plants and flowers that re-awaken during this time of year, there are a few specific blossoms that everyone watches and cherishes.
First among these are Ume (梅), or plum blossoms, usually starting in late February to early March, followed by Momo (桃), or peach blossoms, then finally by the most famous of all, Sakura (桜), or cherry blossoms. Celebrations and festivals are held throughout Japan to mark the arrival of these flowers, with the Sakura season being the most well known overseas.
I took Pasta to a nearby Momo Matsuri (peach blossom festival) earlier today. She's been to this festival a number of times, more for the food and attention she gets than for looking at flowers per se. This year's festivities seem to have attracted more people than I recall from past gatherings, perhaps due in part to the nearly perfect weather - 20ºC, slight breeze, low humidity and lots of sunshine.
We didn't stay too long, as it was a bit too crowded, but Pasta managed to bring smiles to quite a few little faces.