Asia

AP PHOTOS: The ephemeral beauty of Japan's cherry blossoms

  • FILE - In this Sunday, April 3, 2016, photo, a girl is held as she looks at a cherry blossom in Ueno Park in Tokyo. Japan’s cherry blossoms, or “sakura” in Japanese, never cease to inspire. The gnarled trees bloom before they have leaves, their thin branches spilling over with delicate pink-white blossoms and nothing else. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

    FILE - In this Sunday, April 3, 2016, photo, a girl is held as she looks at a cherry blossom in Ueno Park in Tokyo. Japan’s cherry blossoms, or “sakura” in Japanese, never cease to inspire. The gnarled trees bloom before they have leaves, their thin branches spilling over with delicate pink-white blossoms and nothing else. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In the Saturday, April 2, 2016 photo, a child tries to cross over a river under blooming cherry blossoms in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Cherry blossom viewing, or “hanami,” is an annual ritual that takes many forms, from contemplative walks along rows of cherry trees to boisterous picnics in crowded public parks. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)

    FILE - In the Saturday, April 2, 2016 photo, a child tries to cross over a river under blooming cherry blossoms in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Cherry blossom viewing, or “hanami,” is an annual ritual that takes many forms, from contemplative walks along rows of cherry trees to boisterous picnics in crowded public parks. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, April 4, 2016, file photo, a woman takes a photo on a boat through a sea of cherry blossom petals in the Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo. People all over the country are photographing the blossoms as the country's iconic flower is full bloom. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

    FILE - In this Monday, April 4, 2016, file photo, a woman takes a photo on a boat through a sea of cherry blossom petals in the Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo. People all over the country are photographing the blossoms as the country's iconic flower is full bloom. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)  (The Associated Press)

The blossoms are out, in an explosion of pink, a drab day transformed.

Japan's cherry blossoms, or "sakura" in Japanese, never cease to inspire. The gnarled trees bloom before they have leaves, their thin branches spilling over with delicate pink-white blossoms and nothing else.

For more than a week, they have brightened up a country still trying to shake off the chill of early spring. Cherry blossom viewing, or "hanami," is an annual ritual that takes many forms, from contemplative walks along rows of cherry trees to boisterous picnics in crowded public parks.

And then it's over, an ephemeral beauty filling the trees, before fluttering earthward in the breeze.