Monday, March 20, 2006

Don't Drink Under the Cherry Blossoms

The Washington Post reports on an interesting problem:

It is often the tradition in Japan to celebrate the pale-pink arrival of the cherry blossoms by sitting beneath the canopy of a blooming tree with family and friends and pouring some sake. And some beer. And then singing and dancing -- after several more rounds of sake and then more beer, late into the evening.

This is not necessarily how Washingtonians celebrate the blossoms. And in fact, the sake and beer part is very much against National Park Service regulations.

So as more and more Japanese tourists flock to the nation's capital to appreciate the fleeting splendor of cherry trees grown in U.S. soil, organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival are desperate to find ways to communicate the sometimes inelegant clash of American rules and Japanese customs.

They are trawling universities, businesses, embassies, government agencies and even Buddhist temples to find Japanese speakers who can greet the influx of tourists and offer directions and translation, particularly concerning such matters as the District's open-container law.


The National Park Service has about 20 Japanese speakers signed up to help, but it needs dozens more.

Apparently this is a very popular event for Japanese tourists:
Seeing the blossoms, American-style, during the March 25-April 9 festival is becoming a popular way for the Japanese to visit the United States. Flights from Tokyo are packed this time of year, tour groups promote U.S. blossom tours and one Japanese university near Tokyo even postponed the start of its semester this year because of the Washington festival.
The main article concludes with contact information for for English- and Japanese-language volunteers.

Technorati Tags: , ,

No comments: