For just a few weeks every spring, Japan celebrates an annual ritual known as hanami. In theory it's a simple pleasure, stopping to appreciate the beautiful spring blossoms most commonly cherry trees. In reality, it's a symbolic source of national pride, a chance to recognize and reflect on the beauty of nature while welcoming the new season. People often gather and sit under the trees, bringing food, drinks and occasionally music with them. When the Japan Weather Association's annual sakura forecast is broadcast live, it brings with it a flurry of domestic and international bookings as travelers rush to make the most of the country's stunning landscapes and scenery. In early March they're already in bloom way down in Okinawa, but for the rest of the country, viewing times vary from later the same month until the second week of May.