Kon’nichiwa! This Sunday, we will visit Japan as part of our Munchkins United – Kids Cultural Ventures Around the Globe. We will explore Japanese culture, create Japanese arts & crafts, make some tasty Japanese snacks, and learn all about Japanese Sakura festivities. In much of Japan, the flowering cherry trees (which the Japanese call sakura) come into full bloom around the beginning of April. April is the month when the new school year starts for Japanese children; it’s also the month when companies start their new business years and when many new graduates start to work. So the cherry blossoms make people think of new beginnings. When they are in bloom, people make special visits to parks and other spots with many cherry trees; often they have picnics under the branches with family and friends. Japan has more types of cherry trees than any other country, over 200 in all. The blossoms are pickled and used to make a hot drink served on special occasions, and the leaves are pickled and used as the wrapping for sweets. The sakura start blooming in the south at the end of March and work their way north to Hokkaido in May. This helps people plan their flower-viewing outings. Festivals are also held every year to mark the cherry blossom season in many famous viewing spot.