Hanami 2013, a set on Flickr.
Quite possibly the quintessential Japanese point of time is the early spring bloom of cherry blossoms. Signaling the end of winter, the sakura blooms have become emblematic of Japan, and remain part and parcel with Japanese culture. It's not by mistake that newspapers and TV shows make note of when the blossoms are expected to bloom throughout the country, and discuss ways and places to celebrate with a traditional hanami-kai, or flower viewing party.
These photos are from a park nearby in my town, and from a famous place around here to view sakura, Omura Park. Last Saturday was a hanami-kai for myself and my friends, and the weather was almost perfect -- clear, sunny, and warm enough to enjoy the sites, sounds and smells of early spring.