(Written by Morioka City, translated by Amanda Wayama)

Spring is the season in Japan for both goodbyes, and hellos. The dividing line between March and April (the start of Japan’s fiscal year) is where many greetings and farewells can be found.

In April, children graduate to the next school year. Children who cried at their pre-school graduation in March enter April proud of their shiny brand-new backpacks, walking on their own to their new elementary school. Elementary school students graduate to middle school; middle schools graduate to high school; high schools graduate to become university students or new workers. This is the season for change. Many people will say goodbye to the environment where they were raised, to go on to a new field of growth and development.

Even adults still see spring as a time for hellos and goodbyes. In many companies, personnel transfers happen in April, and some might even be transferred to another office in another town.

There is a bridge that crosses over the Kitakami River near Morioka Station called Kaiunbashi Bridge. Day and night, many commuters and students cross this bridge. Kaiunbashi means “Bridge to Open Up Your Destiny” in Japanese, but it’s sometimes called another name: “The Bridge of Two Cries.” They say it comes from families who have had to move up here from Tokyo due to a work transfer. When they first visit Morioka, they cry, “I’m in a place so far away!” But in their time here, they’ll have been so moved by the kind people, the beautiful nature, and the delicious food that when they leave Morioka, it drives them to tears again.

When you look upstream from the bridge, you’ll see the majestic Mount Iwate in the distance – this is a classic view that truly represents Morioka.

In Japan, the flowers of the cherry blossom tree represent spring and its various comings and goings. You’ll think these flowers bloom so gorgeously, almost like they’re celebrating the season of graduations and new beginnings, and right before your eyes, they’ll flutter from the tree to the ground.

However, in Morioka, the cherry blossoms don’t actually bloom in March. Cherry blossoms line the Japanese archipelago from north to south, and the cherry blossoms in Morioka bloom from April to May – almost as if they’re trying to give courage to people working hard to overcome the challenges in their new life.

In Morioka Castle Park, rock walls remain from the feudal samurai period. Those walls are surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom, and the park fills up with the merriment of people who have waited so long for spring.