Travel & Culture

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Japanese culture and lifestyles through the eyes of NHK WORLD personalities

April 7, 2016

HANAMI

Thane Camus / Entertainer

Thane Camus was born in America, raised in Japan, and has spent time in places as diverse as the Bahamas, Lebanon, and Singapore. The entertainer's career has been broad-based, with performances in many settings. He also has devoted attention to environmental issues and nutritional education. On NHK WORLD, he hosts the new program J-Trip Plan.

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Japan is a country blessed with four seasons. And the Japanese have always had an affinity for celebrating the seasons in many different ways. The Japanese symbiosis with nature is very evident in their celebrations.

A very symbolic and beautiful time of year and season is spring. Especially beautiful and symbolic is the cherry blossom. Obviously cherry blossom season is the celebration of the coming of spring. The end of a cold long winter and the new beginning. This is also the time when the new school season starts and a time for celebration. It is not difficult to see that the Japanese are very adept at coming up with all sorts of excuses and reasons to have a good time and party.

Hanami is one such occasion. A tradition that dates back over 1,000 years ago. To admire and celebrate the coming of a new season and the sheer beauty of nature. Hanami consists of gathering with family and friends under the cherry blossom tree and sharing the food and drink that people bring to this occasion and to basically have a good time enjoying each other's company under the beautiful canopy of the Cherryblossoms.

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I have many good memories of Hanamis past, all of which are consistent in the fact that they have been shared with close people, and sometimes people that come together for this occasion that we haven't seen for long times in between. There are one or two, or three Hanamis that have escape the memory unfortunately from over indulging in a good time…

What might seem very interesting to foreigners, especially to Americans is the fact that in Japan people are allowed to drink in public and have a good time. And when it's associated with a special occasion such as this, there's even more of a leniency and understanding. It wouldn't be too far off to say that Hanami is a national celebration. At this time of year, where there is a cherry blossom tree, there will be a party, and it's not unusual for people to stumble accidentally over to a different party and make new friends as well.

This would definitely be an ideal time to come to Japan and experience that wonderful culture and food and drink and the hospitality, all rolled into one. And there are so many places where one can go to enjoy this time of year. Some of my favorite Hanami spots in the Tokyo area are Kinuta park in Setagaya, Yoyogi park in Shibuya, all along the Meguro river and in the Asakusa area along the Sumida river!

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These are exactly the type of things that we introduce in our new program J-Trip Plan! The program that gets into the real local area that you otherwise would not hear or find out about in any travel book. If you want the nitty-gritty on the local culture, this is definitely the program to check out. Things that even other people in Japan would not know about unless they were reported on by the local reporters. Even as the host of the show I am always excited to see what might be hiding around the corner.
I hope you can share in the excitement and knowledge of the program and put it to the test and have a great time when you eventually come to Japan!

Happy Hanami!!

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Thane Camus / Entertainer

Thane Camus was born in America. He traveled far and wide to places such as the Bahamas, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, and Singapore due to his father’s work, and was raised in Japan. At the age of six, he entered a Japanese primary school. He later attended an international school in Japan, from which he graduated. After spending some time studying at a university in the U.S., he returned to work in Japan. The entertainer's career has been broad-based, with appearances in movies, television and radio programs, and commercials. He also has devoted attention to environmental issues and nutritional education. On NHK WORLD, he hosts the new program J-Trip Plan.

QuestionHow long have you been in Japan?
35+
QuestionWhat was your original reason for coming to Japan?
Father's work
Question What's your favorite scenic spot in Japan?
My favorite scenic view of Japan has always been Mount Fuji and the sunrise
Question What's the one thing that's essential to your life in Japan?
Patience
Question What is your favorite Japanese word? Please briefly describe what it means in English.
"Ichigo Ichie" 一期一会
To treasure the first encounter as if it were the last

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