22 November 2018
Japan’s National flower is the Cherry Blossom, which is also known as the Sakura in Japanese. It welcomes the arrival of Spring each year and is a symbol of renewal and hope. Interesting fact about Cherry Blossoms and Japenese culture is that during cherry blossom season you’ll often see people having picnics underneath the cherry blossom trees. This is called “hanami” or “flower viewing” and it’s a custom that dates back many centuries. Japan is home to over 200 different varieties of cherry blossom, the most popular being the “Somei Yoshino”.
If you ever have to find yourself in Japan, make sure to take some time to visit the beautiful Kinkaku-Ji, or Golden Pavilion, in Kyoto. The temple was founded in 1397 making it a great historic experience!
The symbolic significance of the Cherry Blossom
Because cherry blossoms are beautiful and fleeting—the blooms often last no more than two weeks—they have become symbolic of the impermanence of beauty. Cherry blossoms are often featured in works or art and even tattoos to depict the Japanese concept of mono no aware, the wistful realization that “nothing lasts forever.”
Interesting facts about the Cherry Blossom
The Japanese have a television forecast for cherry blossom season, provided by the country’s Meteorological Agency. The blossom moves north in a “sakura zensen”, or cherry blossom front, and its progress is keenly tracked. The cherry blossom ‘trail’ begins in the south in mid-March, travelling north to reach Kyoto and Tokyo by early April. The blooms last for around one week so good planning is required.
McDonald’s is one of many restaurants and shops to decorate outlets with artificial cherry blossom in spring. They have even introduced cherry blossom burgers, complete with pink bread and “Sakura Cherry” drinks!
The Japanese are so fond of cherry blossom that they even make it into ice cream. You’ll also see it make an appearance in advertising campaigns, in which companies seek to assure you that your enjoyment of hanami will be improved with their products.
The tradition of hanami has been going on for many hundreds of years; according to a text from the 8th century, such festivities have been held since at least the 3rd century.
Surprisingly, the title of “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World” isn’t actually bestowed on a Japanese city. That honor falls to Macon, in Georgia, USA, which is home to an estimated 300,000 sakura trees.
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