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Yuka: A Letter about Spring Time in Japan

Hello, Analog Friends! 

My name is Yuka, and I recently started working as a Shop Assistant at Cafe Analog! Some of you may have met me through Cafe Analog. It was fun to talk with many of you at the last Stationery Cafe when I gave my mini drawing workshop! 🙂

I moved to the Netherlands from Japan a year ago. I used to sell stationery under the Yuka Butter brand in Japan, and when I was looking for a place to sell my stationery in the Netherlands, I found Cafe Analog.

Hanny and Daniele welcomed me very warmly, and since then, I have been selling my products, creating collaboration items with them, and participating in the Stationery Cafe. Now, I am working as a Shop Assistant, picking your orders, processing your Rental Box, and brewing some creative collaborations with Hanny and Daniele. I enjoy spending my days listening to their humorous conversations.

Through Cafe Analog, I met wonderful shop owners and made friends with many people at the Stationery Cafe. Cafe Analog has become a very important place for me today.

When I work at Cafe Analog, I’m surrounded by Japanese products, so I’m often reminded of Japan. It’s a bit strange for me to see all these products being sold in the Japanese packaging I’m familiar with! I’m very happy to see that the products I often see in Japan are loved by so many people here, too.

Some of you may become interested in Japan through Japanese stationery. Today, I want to share some information about Japanese culture and my spring memories in Japan.

When I think of spring in Japan, I feel like “a new year is starting”. This is because school graduation and entrance ceremonies are held in Spring, and the new business year also begins in April. Many people start their ‘new’ lives in a new place or workplace. Of course, it’s also the season to say goodbye to people moving away.

Therefore, for many Japanese people, spring is a season when they feel a little fresh—but also sad and happy, thinking that “a new life is about to begin.”

Of course, what makes me realize that “spring is in the air” is when I see sakura (cherry blossoms) blooming. The period when sakura blooms is very short, lasting only about a week from late March to early April. Although it is very short, people are looking forward to this week. The culture of enjoying food and drinks together under sakura trees is called “Hanami’ . Only during this season, for some reason, even the strict office workers enjoy a drink under sakura trees during their lunch break and forget about work.

This is a photo I took on the streets of Tokyo. Businessmen look a little happy under the sakura tree.

This is a photo taken in my hometown of Osaka. Japan has many sunny days from winter to spring, so you can see beautiful sakura.

It’s delicious to eat Bento box under sakura trees!

Sakura petals that have fallen to the ground are also very beautiful.

Another thing I’m looking forward to about spring in Japan is there will be a lot of sakura-flavored sweets and drinks for sale. Even chain stores like Starbucks have limited edition sakura-flavored drinks. The sakura flavor may be a bit strange for first-timers, but I personally like it because it has a slightly bitter taste in its sweetness.  If you go to Japan in the spring, I recommend you try sakura-flavored products!

This is the sakura dango (a traditional Japanese sweet made from mochi ) I ate in Kyoto. It was delicious!

Starbucks’ Sakura Latte. During the season, the cup will also change to a sakura design.

Spring is also the season when many stationery products are released as school starts.

It’s a bit of a strange culture, but it’s the start of a new year, so many people switch to a new schedule book in April.

In Japan, there are huge stationery chain stores such as LOFT and HANDS, and tons of products go on sale in the spring. I also tend to buy stationery during this season.

I loved a stationery store called Tegamisha in Tokyo.

Letter sets with sakura motifs like this one will also be on sale in spring.

After buying new stationery, the children head off to school. They are excited to meet new teachers and friends in a new classroom. In Japan, when you go to school, you carry a bag called a Randoseru on your back, and the back view of a first-grade elementary school student wearing a new Randoseru is so tiny and cute.

Older students and working adults also feel a little nervous when going to a new school or workplace this season. You might spot some people who are a little anxious on the train.

Writing this blog post makes me want to spend spring in Japan again.

I often tell my friends that spring or fall is the best time to travel to Japan. It’s not too hot yet, and you can see beautiful sakura.

I would be happy if reading this article made you feel like you were traveling to Japan, even just a little bit. I plan to continue writing articles about Japanese culture and life moving forward! Thank you for reading!

Hugs,

Yuka

Illustration of the day: This is an illustration of Sakura mochi (さくらもち), a traditional Japanese sweet made of pink mochi wrapped in salted sakura leaves. 

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