If you're lucky enough to visit Tokyo during cherry blossom season, you don't want to waste a moment of precious time. Why? Because you never know when a spring storm will sweep in and blow those perfect pink blossoms away. It happens nearly every year.
I took these photos one year ago in Hiroshima, Japan, during a long after-school bike ride. It was almost always a bit grey on the streets of Hiroshima, but the gloominess fit the architecture of the city in a peaceful sort of way.
This is the time of year you can consume alcohol in public at your picnic as long as you don't walk around with an open container. So pick up some beer or wine or just a bottle of cold Japanese green tea if you prefer.
In Japan this spring, the color of money is pink. Thanks to the weak yen, Japan is suddenly affordable. Visitors from Asia and elsewhere are coming in record numbers to experience that most iconic of Japanese events, cherry blossom season.
After the message sinks in we are left with the subject matter - hauntingly beautiful images that dance across the picture plane from one side to the middle and beyond like a newly, and quickly forming fissure in the earth.
You can hear the drums from a mile away. The pulse of the Surdo, heavy beats, the heart of the samba band; the Dobra, carrying the melody; the Repique adding snappy sounds alongside the Snare. The beats draw people in and keep crowds entranced.
If you venture across the National Mall, you will find precious few memorials to women. At one end, Abraham Lincoln's stoic face scans the two-mile-long lawn. In the middle is the monument to George Washington.
Japan's most iconic season is almost here. Cherry blossom time. Clouds of pink petals cover the nation as the flower front moves slowly north. Every village, town and city lets business-as-usual slide to indulge in days of hanami, flower viewing parties.
It cannot be overstated that in Japan, the sakura is serious business. But why are the blossoms so significant? Here's hoping you get out and enjoy them this spring -- perhaps, even, with a little more history than before.