School graduations and farewell parties are over. April is the time to celebrate new beginnings. At CEH, we are happy to start our second year. In Japan, "Hanami" or cherry blossom viewing is one highlight of April. This tradition started sometime in the 7th century. Cherry blossoms are such a part of the Japanese mind/culture now. Although we have cherry blossoms in my native country (USA), people don't get so excited about them. Is it because we can't appreciate the beauty of nature as much as the Japanese do? Maybe we need to adopt the custom of "hanami party" where families, friends, colleagues both young and old sit under the cherry blossoms and drink, eat, sing and drink some more into the night. I have enjoyed this custom here but wonder if it would ever pick up back home. Some Japanese will even follow the cherry blossoms all over Japan in quest of the perfect blossom. My favorite place in Odawara for cherry blossoms is the Odawara Castle. This year the peak was around April 1st. I went one week later after returning from California. It was still nice even then. Next spring, let's have our own "hanami party" at the castle!