SPRING BREAK, HERE WE COME

A WORLD WITHOUT SEASONS IS AS UNNATURAL AS A PERSON WITHOUT MOODS

WHEN SPRING COMES TO THE CITIES OF JAPAN, salarymen dutifully assemble under cherry blossoms, and drunkenly bawl songs in what is really only a quainter version of St. Patrick's Day. In the fall, supermarkets hang paper leaves from their cash registers, and cigarette makers issue packages featuring autumn colors. To a jaded foreigner such an observation can seem as formulaic and debased as the Muzaked versions of Jingle Bells that torment every department store from Bangor to Bangkok.

And yet the very qualities we admire in Japan--its safety and solidarity and sense of long-term planning--are in some ways the result of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!