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Japan - Taikoh-hanamigyoretsu
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Daigoji Temple, Kyoto 京都 醍醐寺
About 150 people dressed in costumes of the Momoyama period take part in the Taikoh Hanami Procession at Daigoji temple to re-enact cherry blossom parties held by the warlord and unifier of Japan Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598). In 1598 some nine hundred participants together with his first lady Nene, beloved concubine Yodo, son Hideyori, and several daimyos celebrated a gorgeous cherry-blossom viewing party. It was the last splendour in power, for Hideyoshi died at the same year. The revel showed Hideyoshi’s impressive personality and has been used as a synonym for luxury, extravagancy, and richness.
Hanami parties date back to the Heian court aristocrats. Gradually the custom spread to the warrior class and took on a more opulent aspect. Today the Japanese enjoy hanami as an occasion of private get-together picnicking under cherry trees and admiring them in bud. This lovely floral-fall is a spring rite. Sakura is the national flower of Japan and from the countless varieties the three most common ones are somei-yoshino in parks and along riverbanks, yama-zakura in mountains, and shidare-zakura in temples hanging down like willows. Literally hanami means flower viewing but in reality cherry-blossom viewing.
Yodo was loved by Hideyoshi and when he died, their son Hideyori was six years old. Yodo struggled for maintaining the power but Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had been waiting his time for long years, did not allow her to do so. The battle of Sekigahara (1600) determined the tide in favour of Ieyasu. The Osaka winter assault (1614) was followed by Osaka summer assault (1615), in which Yodo and Hideyori killed themselves in Osaka castle. It was a turbulent age with full of revenges, betrayals, treacheries, double crosses, spies, stratagems, plots and tricks. There are numerous dramas, novels and plays based on these historical episodes.