2nd Place / People / Culture

Moonlit Hanami

  • Photographer
    Lieh Sugai
  • Date of Photograph
    2015-2016

Hanami is a celebration of the short and beautiful life of sakura (cherry tree). The blossoms bloom in early spring and only last a week or two. During this brief period, Japanese people celebrate sakura with outdoor parties underneath the trees, all day and night. This tradition goes back thousands of years and is rooted in the idea of humans interacting organically with the natural world. The custom shows people’s appreciation for the fleeting nature of the experience of beauty and the acceptance of the transience of all life. I have been documenting this aspect of Japanese culture for the last several years, focusing on Yozakura (Hanami at night). Moonlight and the nocturnal atmosphere emphasize the beauty of sakura blossoms. This series of photographs was taken in the city of Fukuoka on Kyushu Island, where I was born and raised.

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