Under a canopy of Sakura — we capture — we reflect.

March 31st, 2014, 12pm

It was 17°C with few clouds. There was moderate breeze.

Likely a reflection of my advancing age, but never have I been so aware of the passage of time than I have during my life here in Japan. The melting pot of seasonal American traditions get diluted between its coastlines and the temperamental weather, especially in the midwest, leads no season delineated.

In Japan, seasons can change overnight. That change is celebrated and welcomed with a myriad of traditions; from food to song to television programming. You’ll wake up one day and it will be fall, not in the anecdotal “you’ll wake up one day…” but literally. You will immediately be aware of fall colors on your daily commute. Your favorite place to each lunch will change its menu to better utilize fall vegetables. You will longingly look from your office window to reflect on last season’s memories and mourn the loss of, what seems, yet another hour of daylight.

Now, you might be saying, “this all happens where I live too!”. But here, like so many things the Japanese do, it is deliberate and an echoing of nature herself. I can remember so much more as these seasons become markers in my mind, anchors in time. In the case of Japan’s cherry blossom season; back at least 5 years I know exactly where I was, who I was with, which park we settled on to view the sakura, what percentage of sakura bloom could be viewed (Hanami is in full swing by 80-90%, 100% is deemed Max Sakura!), how drunk I got and how drunk my loved ones got.

There was a time during my mid 20’s in Chicago where I could not recall my exact age without needing to glance at my driver’s license. When life was so complicated but full of so much energy that time did not matter — moments mattered — and counting those was much more valuable than counting the years. Cresting 30 over 2 years prior I no longer have the luxury of forgetting my age, but now I find myself, once again, moving from season to season, moment to moment — instead of year to year. Of all the things I love about the Japanese, it is this silent thing I have been taught that I value most. To honor the moment, to make time — timeless.

Becky, Lin, Raphael, Gonçalo and 41 others said thanks.

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Ryan Ruel

Graphic/Web/UX designer, avid gamer, amateur cyclist & budding CrossFitter from Chicago—living in Tokyo. Full time creative director at www.aqworks.com Sometimes a designer for www.hi.co

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