Sakura II: Products, Pets and Predictions
Springtime heralds not only the arrival of the pink wave of advertising but also a whole hive of other pink cherry blossom activity.
The retail industry goes mad with a slew of sakura-related and themed products.
The scientific community has a role in the seasonal madness too, publishing sakura predictions weeks in advance.
When will it arrive?
From very early in the year, experts are attempting to predict the exact days that sakura trees will bloom in different locations. Daily reports are published and the public avidly tune in to enable accurate planning of hanami celebrations.
Particularly for those organising company gatherings this is of utmost importance. Given that the hanami event is one of the biggest celebrations of the year, it would be not only disappointing but embarrassing to hold a group event under the cherry blossom trees only to find that come the day the flowers hadn’t yet arrived. Or had already been and gone.
Popular websites such as the sakura weathermap publish detailed breakdowns of the sakura status across the nation.
Daily updates report probability distribution bell-curves for sakura appearance and predicted variance from the historical average dates. There is also a rather lovely pink nationwide “sakura map” along with predicted dates for locations all over Japan. See the image below or visit the site.
There’s even a page detailing previous seasons.
It seems an extraordinary example of overkill until one realizes just how significant the event is in Japan’s social culture and history. Such detailed analysis as this is just evidence of that fact.
Where can I see sakura?
There’s an app for everything. Sakura is no exception.
Yahoo Japan has released a free app for iPhone and Android which truly is a sakura-lovers perfect product.
Hanami-navi (short for “hanami navigation”) allows you to find nearby sakura, check the progress of sakura in any location and share your sakura photos. You can search by location to view and comment on others’ photos too.
The app is also packed with information on top viewing spots, a checklist of essential hanami party items, hanami recipes and more. Get it here.
Sakura dog idols!
Things get really strange now.
The Idol Dog site features rankings of dogs from all over Japan, most of which seem to fit the description of “small, dressed in silly clothes and overpampered”.
Each dog has its own “blog” report page where it visits some sakura and tells a story with photos. Other dogs can then comment on the story.
Here for example is Momo-chan, a toy poodle from Yamanashi:
The site has a whole load of other cute doggy-related stuff, check it out here.
Sakura products – food, drink and more
Seasonal product campaigns are numerous.
Here we have a sakura-flavoured MacBook Air promotion.
And one from phone network Docomo featuring the Dokomodake mushroom characters.
But the main product of the season is beer.
With seemingly the entire Japanese population heading off to hanami gatherings and celebrations, this is the season of drinking, and so we see all the major brands relabelling and repackaging their products for pink springtime imbibing fun.
Finally, although there are far too many sakura foodstuffs to cover here, I do think it important to show this one: Sakura Panda mochi (soft glutinous ricecakes).
Despite being animal themed, the product isn’t aimed at children. It’s just a typical example of clever marketing, this time hitting the double-barrelled selling points of seasonality and kawaii.