In most of Asia, Buddha’s birthday is a moveable feast, following a number of different lunar calendars – but the organised Japanese, who use the standard Western calendar, have set 8 April as the date for his birthday, year-in, year-out.
At Hana-Matsuri, or Flower Festival, the Japanese decorate shrines with flowers to commemorate the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who would later become the Buddha, in an orchard of blossoming trees more than two thousand years ago. Baby Buddhas are placed in the shrines and, to symbolise the nectar with which the original Buddha was sprinkled, worshippers sprinkle the baby with sweet tea.
The Green Tea Martini, a subtle, lightly floral gin martini, features both green tea and green tea liqueur. An excellent accompaniment to Japanese desserts at any time of year, it's easily good enough to celebrate Buddha today.