JAPAN CHERRY BLOSSOM
Japan Cherry Blossom - Japan is famous for its cherry blossom. Japan has many fantastic places to view cherry blossom including castles, temples, shrines and formal gardens.
The cherry blossom (Sakura) is a well-known and ubiquitous symbol of Japan and
are frequently depicted on traditional Japanese goods and art. The cherry blossom is particularly important in Japanese culture as it represents the end of the winter and the being of new life and growing season of spring.
Sakura (桜 or 櫻) is the Japanese name for ornamental cherry trees, Prunus serrulata, and their cherry blossoms. Cherry fruit (known as sakuranbo) come from a different species of tree.
The most popular cherry blossom in Japan is the Somei Yoshino, which has nearly pure white petals, with a hint of pink close to
the stem. This variety of cherry blossom takes
its name from the village of Somei (now part of Toshima in
Tokyo). It was developed in the mid- to late-19th
century at the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period.
The Somei Yoshino is so widely associated with cherry blossoms that
jidaigeki and other works of fiction often depict the variety in the Edo
period or earlier; such depictions are anachronismsEach flower has a short life which may last a week, but that short life can be cut short by strong winds or rain which can cause the petals to fall or scatter in the wind. It is this short dramatic and potentially fickle life of the cherry blossom that also influences their role in traditional Japanese culture.
The cherry blossom appear on the trees before the green of the leaves, this makes their sight even more dramatic as the trees in full bloom look almost white from top to bottom. .
Other categories of cherry blossom include yamazakura, yaezakura, and shidarezakura. The yaezakura have large flowers, thick with rich pink petals. The shidarezakura, or weeping cherry, has branches that fall like those of a weeping willow, bearing cascades of pink flowers.
CHERRY BLOSSOM FRONT
Annually, the Japanese track the sakura
zensen, or Cherry-Blossom Front. Nightly forecasts follow the weather
segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in
Okinawa in February, and typically
reaches Kyoto and
Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. Then it proceeds
north, arriving in Hokkaido a few weeks
later. Japanese pay close attention to these cherry blossom forecasts. They
will go to parks, shrines and temples with family and friends and hold a
"flower viewing party" known as hanami (花見). Hanami festivals celebrate the
beauty of sakura, and for many, it is a chance to relax and enjoy the
Most Japanese schools and public buildings have cherry blossom (sakura) trees outside of them. Since the fiscal and school year both begin in April, in many parts of Honshu, the first day of work or school will coincide with the cherry blossom season.
Japan gave 3,000 sakura as a gift to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the nations' then-growing friendship. These trees have since lined the shore of the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC (see West Potomac Park), and the gift was renewed with another 3,800 trees in 1956. The sakura trees continue to be a popular tourist attraction (and the subject of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival) when they reach full bloom in early spring.