Elegant Journeys

Finding Hope in the Cherry Blossoms of Japan


The national flower of Japan, the cherry blossom...

The national flower of Japan, the cherry blossom, or Sakura, represents a time of renewal and optimism. Given the short blooming season, cherry blossoms also symbolize the transience of life which is a major theme in Buddhism.

Each spring Japanese family, friends, and colleagues gather under the cherry blossom trees every spring to enjoy sake-filled glasses, bento boxes, and sweet mocha—Japanese rice cakes. They consider this as seizing the beauty out of life, as they commemorate the loss of loved ones and reflect on their own lives with a sense of wonder while shedding the past to usher in a brighter, more promising future.

Immerse Yourself in Japanese Culture at Home

Pachinko, Min Jin Lee

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married—she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

Told from a first-person perspective, Memoirs of a Geisha, tells the story of a fictional geisha working in Kyoto, Japan, before, during, and after World War II and ends with her being relocated to New York City.

Hokkaido Highway Blues, William Ferguson

In the 4,000 years of Japanese recorded history, no one had ever followed the Cherry Blossom Front from one end of the country to the other, nor had anyone hitchhiked the length of Japan. But, heady on sakura and sake, Will Ferguson bet he could do both. The resulting travelogue is one of the funniest and most illuminating books ever written about Japan. And, as Ferguson learns, it illustrates that is better to travel than to simply arrive.

Snow Country, Yasunari Kawabata

A classic of Japanese literature, Snow Country is a love affair between a Tokyo dilettante and a provincial geisha in a hot spring (onsen) town of Yuzawa. The hot spring in this region were home to inns, visited by men traveling alone and in groups, where paid female companionship had become a staple of the economy. It was among the three novels the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

A Taste of Japan

“Dassai” Asahi Brewery 

Made famous because Prime Minister Abe gifted this sake to former President Obama.

“Born” Kato Kichibei Shoten, “COWBOY YAMAHAI” - Shiokawa Brewery 

While it sounds American this Sake is from Shiokawa Brewery, a traditional sake brewery that has been around since the Taisho era – early 1900’s.

Miso-Ginger Marinated Salmon Recipe – Just One Cookbook

Marinated in a sweet and savory miso sauce, this Miso Salmon recipe makes a delicious weeknight meal. Enjoy with Japanese ginger rice!

See the Recipe

Meet our Specialists


A global citizen, history buff, and an exploratory traveler.


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