When you mention Japan and flowers, more than likely, you think about Japan's cherry blossom season and hanami, but actually, cherry blossoms are but one aspect of only the month of Spring.
Traditionally, the Japanese love to appreciate each aspect of each of the four seasons, from the weather, to the food, to the flowers, to the different festivals and activities that happen at each season, the birds and insects present.
It's as if the whole year were a clock, and the Japanese like to know exactly where they are by paying close attention to their surroundings.
The longer you live in Japan, the more aware you become of all the different subtle cues the Japanese pay attention to during the year.
As I've mentioned in my last post, cherry blossoms mark an important time of the year, because they mark the beginning of the new fiscal and academic year.
However, the cherry blossoms aren't the only flowers that bloom in spring.
Long after the cherry blossoms have bloom and scattered, dogwoods, which line many Japanese streets, take over, and although their glory remains unsung, they are a spectacle to behold.
In Japanese, dogwoods are known as "hanamizuki." (花水木)
As with cherry blossoms, they come in many varieties including large and small blossoms, white, pink and in-between.
Because they bloom after cherry blossom season is over, they can be quietly appreciated by people without being disturbed by the noise and bustle of hanami parties.
Don't get me wrong, I love to appreciate cherry blossoms, but so does everyone else, and to go out and see them during peak season, it's a struggle to get to top viewing spots and finding a place to settle.
Dogwoods are nice to appreciate in Japan, if you want peace and quiet, because hoards of people aren't swarming to see them.
If you're ever in Japan long enough to stick around after cherry blossom season, keep your eyes open for dogwoods.
Here is a small compilation of dogwood pictures I've taken this year.