The cherry blossom being in full bloom in April is one of the two national flowers, the other being chrysanthemum. People go to see the cherry blossoms and some of them hold a flower-viewing party under the cherry blossom trees and get drunk. The practice of viewing cherry blossoms is described in the ancient chronicles of Japan and it is supposed to begin in early 8th century. Then, the practice gradually spreaded from aristcrat to ordinary people throughout Japan. Cherry blossoms are short-lived and the way its petals fall while still at the height of their beauty seems to impress Japanese.
Obon is a Buddhist festival held from August 13 to 16, to welcome the ancestral spirits back to this world. The souls are believed to return to their families during this period. Obon is also an occasion for people to visit their ancestors' graves to pray and make offerings of food and flowers. Many people take days off during this Obon Festival period.
Daruma is a roly-poly paper-mache doll modeled after the Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidarma who founded Zen Buddhism. It is said that Bodhidarma sat meditating on a rock, facing a stone wall, for nine years. He sat for such a long time that his arms and legs became paralyzed when he reached enlightenment.Therefore, the daruma doll has no arms or legs. People who have a dream, buy daruma dolls hoping they will improve their endurance and, like the roly-poly man who may fall seven times, be able to rise again eight times. The eyes of daruma dolls have no pupils so people paint one in after buying them. They then make a wish, and paint the other pupil in when it comes true.