Every spring the Japanese celebrate the blossoming of their cherry trees. People flock to parks, gardens, temples, and shrines. They spread blankets and tarpaulins under the flowering branches and eat and drink and sing. Special tours go to places known for their expansive cherry tree orchards or for extremely old or grand specimens. What a wonderful thing to celebrate. Click on the image for a larger view.
Most shines in Japan are marked by a gate called a torii. As the worshipper passes through the gate, it symbolized the transition from the mundane world into a sacred space. This gate is at Meiji Shrine, the largest shrine in Tokyo. The structure just beyond the gate is the ablution pavilion, or temizuya, where worshippers will rise their mouth and wash their hands as a purification rite.