Battle of the Songs: When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom

Happy mid-March! I am sorry for being absent for half the week. It is almost the end of the school year here in Japan, and I am busy with ending classes, writing reports, and having the students practice for graduation. Even though my students aren’t the ones graduating, they are going to participate in the school ceremony as it very important.

It has gotten really warm recently here in Nagoya. Next Wednesday, it is suppose to be 67°F/19°C! And in about two weeks, we get to see our first cherry blossoms bloom here! I am so excited! I love walking home under the beautiful cherry blossoms and even see them bloom next to my apartment.

So, to celebrate the coming of these magnificent blossoms, I presented you with the new Battle of the Songs: When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom!

The Meaning Behind the Blossom

If you have been in Japan in the past week or two, you have perhaps seen a flurry of cherry blossoms, especially around schools. Although most are fake and made out of plastic, they are in demand: decorations, pinned onto uniforms and shirts, at Starbucks in a seasonal frappuccino, made as tea, hair accessories, and their essence captured into traditional Japanese sweets.

Sakura, as well as spring, is the symbol of (re)birth, the start of something new, renewal, and a new year. Graduations from school — whether it is preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, junior school, high school, and college — happens in March, right before the start of spring. This is the time to remember your years in school, celebrate what you have accomplished, and look forward to the future. Come April 1, which is the traditional start of the new school and business year in Japan, many will begin a new journey with or without those attachments from the past.

The Start of Something New

Since Sakura symbolizes renewal, what part of your life do you want to renew? What have you been struggling with and are ready to change?

THIS is the season for it!

For me, I am going to commit myself to two things: 1) I WILL get this blog onto a self-host platform. Now, I probably won’t do until Golden Week at the beginning of May as I have 10 days off. I know I should do it now as I should be proactive in my goals. But, as I said earlier, I been busy with work and the play I am performing in will have it’s one weekend run at the end of this month. So, I have been spending every Sunday practicing. I instead dedicate some time for the move than haphazardly move altogether. (Plus, I am still up in arms about which is the best hosting site for me.)

I have been reading the book Get Rich, Lucky Bitch lately and one of the methods of the first chapter is to de-clutter. One of the things I want to de-clutter is my schedule. This year, I have been working way too much, much more than I wanted, because my work is trying to force more teaching hours in my schedule. And also, I cluttered my schedule with lots of activities, and thus not making time for this blog. I want to change that. I have signed for a new contract at my job that gives me less teaching hours, and I am going to step down in two activities as I want to focus on creating a profitable blog. I am debating about a third activity because I need it in my life, but I feel like I need to take a break from it till May.

I told you my spring goals, how about you? What do you want to do? It is never true late to start new goals, you don’t need New Years Resolutions for that. You can make one now. What part of your life you want change and make renew? Tell me in the comments below!

Since March 8 was International Woman’s Day and March is Women’s History Month, I thought I could blend the theme of Sakura with woman/girl singers in this battle. These two songs are from artists that have been very popular and prominent in 21st-century Japanese pop culture. One song is by a super popular and super big idol group, and one song is by an international recognized singer.

PLEASE listen and vote for your favorite in the comments below!

I remember when “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” The Bouquets of Sakura first came out in the winter of 2006. AKB48, at the time, was still brand-new and the group still figured out their own identity. “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” was their first indies single and was very popular, becoming on the best-selling debut singles by a girl group since Morning Musume’s “Ai nio Tane” in 1998.

Of course, AKB48 has gotten some negative comments about their video, image, and rules. In 2010, many in the Western world raised a suspicious eyebrow when the music video for the song “Heavy Rotation” was released with girls only in lingerie, kissing each other, and other actions. And then in 2013, news of Minami Minegishi’s scandal and outcome shocked the world. Minegishi was caught in a dating scandal in the local Japanese scandal. To apology for her “sinful” actions, she shaved her hair (which is a Japanese tradition) and apology to fans on Youtube.

Despite AKB48’s questionable actions, the group has released great music. My personal favorite is “RIVER,” but “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” is a nice tune too. I can admit, I didn’t really like this song that much when I came out; only cared for the b-side “Dear my teacher.” But over time, “Sakura no Hanabira-tachi” grew on me as a sweet, mid-tempo song about graduation. It’s not in my top 5, but I can listen to this song whenever I am working on work. But don’t show me the music video because I could watch it forever, trying to find baby Tomomi Itano (my favorite member).