17 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Sakura

You've seen at least one magnificent picture of cherry blossoms...but what exactly is it? Why is it always associated with Japan? Here are 17 facts to enlighten you on the cherry blossom, aka sakura!


Japan In-Depth

1. Sakura belongs to the rose family, Rosaceae.


Sakura (桜) is a general name for plants that belong to the subfamily of the Rosaceae. The English name for sakura is cherry blossom. Sakura can be written in Chinese characters/kanji (桜), in hiragana (さくら), or in katakana (サクラ).

2. The most planted species in Japan is Someiyoshino (ソメイヨシノ).


Someiyoshino, or in their scientific name, Cerasus x yedoensis (Matsum.) A.V.Vassil. 'Somei-yoshino' is a cultivar made in Japan. Someiyoshino are planted all over in Japan ever since the Meiji period. When the news announces the sakura has started blooming, they use Someiyoshino as a standard.

3. Someiyoshino flower's life span is about a week.

Taichiro Ueki/Flickr

Sakura bloom and die fast. The flower petals fall down constantly, making the ground of the sakura tree area filled with white or pale pink petals. This feature is often admired and said to be the appeal of sakura. 

4. There is a name for the state when the sakura petals have all fallen down and the leaves are budding.

Omni Sight/Flickr

This state is called hazakura (葉桜). This seems strange at first, because there are no sakura flowers, yet 'sakura' is in the name. This may reflect the fact how much the Japanese people love every state of sakura.

5. There are more than 600 species of sakura in Japan.

shuzo serikawa/Flickr

This number includes endemic and hybrid species in Japan. Sakura is known for a plant frequent mutation, which shows in the change of petals, the size of the flower, change in color, the decrease or increase in fruit, and so on.  From this reason, many hybrid species were made. 

6. Sakura can easily rot.


Sakura rots from cuts in their bark or roots. Once it starts rotting, it could easily spread to the whole tree, and die. This is why you need to pay attention where you put your sheets or blankets during hanami. You may easily be shortening the tree's life. Image above is the treatment made to the Sakura in order to prevent rotting.

7. The oldest sakura tree is 2000 years old.


This sakura is called the Jindai Zakura (神代桜). The root circumference is 13.5 m. You can see it at the Jissou Temple (実相寺) in Yamanashi Prefecture. Official site in Japanese here.

8. The names of the flowers differ in the number of petals.


Flowers that have up to 5 petals are called hitoe (一重). Flowers that have 5 to 10 petals are called hanyae (半八重). Flowers that have more than 10 petals are called yae (八重). The image above is the flowers of yae.

9. People sit down under sakura and feast. This event is called hanami and is widely popular in Japan.

Dick Thomas Johnson/Flickr

Hanami (花見) means to look at the flowers, which is what you partly do during hanami. You mostly eat and drink during hanami. Hanami is also a great social event to get to know your co-workers or your classmates better, since the new academic or business year starts in April, which is the same timing as when the sakura blooms. 

10. You can eat the petals and leaves of sakura.


After the petals and leaves undergo a process called shiozuke (塩漬け), which is soaking the subject into salt, you get sakurazuke (桜漬け). Sakurazuke has a distinctive smell. It is used to put on bread, or sakura mochi (桜餅), which is shown in the image above. Sakura mochi is a Japanese treat, which is red bean curd either completely or partly wrapped by pink-stained mochi. A sakurazuke leaf is wrapped around this pink product. Sakura mochi is often eaten during the sakura season. 

11. You can also drink sakura.


Put 2 or 3 of the sakurazuke of the flower, which is mentioned above, into a cup of hot water. This is called sakurayu (桜湯). Since the flower blooms inside the cup and looks beautiful, sakurayu is often drunk at formal gatherings, such as weddings.

12. Sakura is often recognized as a symbol for fragility, grace, and short-lived beauty.


The language of flowers of sakura follows as so: spiritual beauty and a good education. The language of flowers for Someiyoshino is purity and a graceful beautiful person. The language of flowers for Yaezakura (八重桜), which are called Double Cherry Blossoms in English, is an  enriched education, a good education, and grace. Overall, the language of flowers and the impression of sakura is a positive one.

13. In Japan, sakura is also a symbol for beginnings and spring.

PROcyberwonk Follow/Flickr

This could be because the start of academic and business years start in April, when the sakura is mostly at full bloom. Also, many schools plant sakura on their grounds. 

14. Sakura is engraved into the 100 yen coin.

Ken OHYAMA/Flickr

This symbolizes how the existence of sakura is deeply rooted in the Japanese culture. Other flowers engraved into coins are Chrysanthemum in the 5o yen coin, and Tachibana in the 500 yen coin.

15. The Self-Defence Forces of Japan have logos of sakura.


The JMSDF (Japan Military Self-Defence Forces) have logos of Sakura in their badge of ranks and flags. However, sakura is not the national flower of Japan. Japan does not have an official national flower.

16. A female child can be named after sakura.


Name possiblities will be Sakura, or Sakurako (桜子). 'Ko' means child, and is often at the end of the name of a female name. Sakura is often associated with femininity, so there are not many boys named Sakura out there.

17. 3/27 is the day of the Sakura.


This day was decided by the incorporated foundation of the Nihon Sakura no Kai (日本さくらの会), or Japan Sakura Association, in 1992. It does not hold any legal power; it is not an actual national holiday.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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