Hanami (花見) is a traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. Every year when comes April or May, the craze in Japan is to monitor the stages of how , where and when Sakura cherry blossoms bloomed all over Japan.
It is almost like watching life at various stages of growth and the climax occurs when families and friends meet under the cherry blossom trees all over Japan to enjoy the beauty of the Sakura which lasted only a week or two.
In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. Hanami at night is called Yozakura (夜桜) literally means Night Sakura).
Cherry Blossoms are illustrated in many art forms in the traditional art of lacquerworks — maki-e. One of the most interesting works is a pen made by Namiki in Spring 2003 called “The Dancing Beauty”
The unusual green lacquer colour itself is already extraordinary because close to 80% of global lacquer pens or items are usually either black or red lacquer. For good reasons, pens that are made in green, blue and yellow lacquer are extremely rare and hard to find.
In the following pictures, you can find unusual traces of abalone shells within the green lacquer itself. Hence, it is not just pure green lacquer but a very high grade of green urushi mixed with blue abalone shells in it!
A closer look at the maki-e works marvels anyone as you can see the intricacies of how the sakuras are inlaid with abalone shells (see in picture with blue iridescence). This technique is called raden. As you rotate the pen, blue light shimmers and reflects light as if it is trying to please you and make you happy.
The gold coloured Sakuras are inlaid with gold flakes by a technique called Hyomon.
There is another feature in The Dancing Beauty (also called Hagoromo) that makes it extraordinary. Very few Japanese pens are made with human figurines on it. Many Japanese themes are mountains, sceneries, birds and flowers—seldom human figurines.
A courtesan was shown dressed beautifully in kimono with tiny sakura motifs on it. When we think of Hanami (花見), it is as if we are brought back in time with the courtesan dancing under the cherry blossom tree once again.
Fortunately, the sakura can last more than 2 weeks on this pen.
It just takes a keen eye to recognise that this pen holds more in value than what meets the eye.
Like the Sakura, it blooms but never bear fruits. It uses all its energy when it is blooming, even if it is just only that 2 weeks, to show the full beauty of nature and to gain our attention as we sees it through the eyes of the floating world …..