From inside my hood I hear muted rain on canopy leaves and watch reverentially, the wild white cherry blossom whirl into black mud.

I’m tuned into cherry blossom after living in Japan where blossom icons appear on weather forecasts and sat-navs. I was invited on arrival in Joetsu to join a group of professors in the park for hanami – blossom viewing, and anticipated a sacred experience. Among hundreds of other parties we spread a blue tarpaulin and a picnic under the trees and – got well and truly hammered. I glanced at the flowers now and again, glowing white and moony in the dark, I’m not sure anyone else did.

Cherry blossomA year later I sat beneath a cherry tree in Fukuoka radiant in new blossom, waiting for a boat to South Korea and beyond. I travelled home by ship and train and all the way across Europe, cherry trees were just coming into flower.

Here the first tree to flower is opposite the Co-op. It is ice-cream pink and blowsy, the petals race the pavement dust and it’s over before the rest have begun. Rob and I found one by the practice goal-posts, soft white and drifting. We ate bread and cheese underneath it and drank a bottle of cheap pink wine.