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Tea Leaves

Is climate change killing the haiku?

Loss of distinct seasons threatens traditional Japanese culture

Even amid relentless modernization and urbanization, Japan offers many daily moments that remind us of the seasons. Pop songs celebrate love and, with the advent of spring, sakura (cherry blossoms); restaurants advertise seasonal delicacies, and formal letters open with references to the golden beauty of trees under the autumn sun or snow flurrying in the winter air.

While these moments give me solace as an admirer of the Japanese sense of the seasons, they also remind me of the painful reality I have come to know as a reporter covering the impact of climate change -- that such colorful touches in Japanese traditions are fading due to global warming.

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