Yes, spring has finally arrived in the Netherlands! Actually, we’re enjoying quite an early spring here in Northern Europe. I can’t fully express how much my mood improves when the flowers start to bloom. Honestly, life feels so much easier when the fresh green leaves return to the trees. Thankfully, the early spring also gave the cherry blossom season in Amsterdam a bit of a jump start. That’s why the cherry blossoms are already in full bloom. Here is a (pink and pastel) visual diary of my spring in Amsterdam so far.
Cherry Blossom Season in Amsterdam: 400 Sakura Trees in Amstelveen
These 400 sakura trees stand in the Kersenbloesempark at the Amsterdamse Bos, ever since they were gifted by the Japan’s Women’s Club (JWC) in 2000. The Kersenbloesempark was initially planted in celebration of 400 years of cultural ties between Japan and the Netherlands.
Hanami Matsuri, right here in Amstelveen
Amstelveen is home to a community of about 1700 Japanese expats, quite large for a small country like the Netherlands. Every year, many of the expats and other locals hold a hanami matsuri (“flower viewing festival”) at the park. During this festival, it is customary to enjoy a picknick under the beautifully blooming trees. Don’t you think it’s wonderful how this tradition can still take place so far away from Japan?
Celebrating the new season, mourning the Tsunami
This memorial stone in the photo above is a reminder of those who lost their lives in 2011. The stone became part of the park in 2012, exactly one year after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. The people of Amstelveen have held yearly ceremonies ever since; the wilted tulips are remnants of last month’s commemoration. We all celebrated the new season on such a beautiful day, but many also took the time to mourn the victims back home.